UK terror probe after mass stabbing at shopping mall

Police officers guard outside the Arndale shopping center on Friday after several people were stabbed in Manchester, Britain. (Reuters)
Updated 12 October 2019

UK terror probe after mass stabbing at shopping mall

  • Man in his 40s arrested on suspicion of serious assault at Arndale Center

MANCHESTER: Counterterror police were on Friday probing a mass stabbing at a shopping center in northwest England that left several people injured and needing hospital treatment. The attack happened at the Arndale shopping center in the heart of Manchester, where a extremist suicide bomber killed 22 after an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.
A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of serious assault.
Footage posted online appeared to show one police officer restraining the suspect on the floor as another stands over him pointing a Taser.
A shop worker who gave his name only as Jordan, 23, told Britain’s domestic Press Association news agency that “a man was running around with a knife lunging at multiple people, one of which came into my store visibly shaken with a small graze.”
Greater Manchester Police and North West Ambulance Service said four people were injured during the incident, revising downwards an initial toll of five.
Two women — one of them aged 19 — were taken to hospital with stab wounds and were said to be in a stable condition following the attack, which happened shortly after 11:00 a.m. (1000 GMT).

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he ‘is shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected.’

A man in his 50s was also being treated while the fourth victim, a woman in her 40s, did not require treatment, police said.
Earlier, the force said: “Given the location of the incident and its nature, officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West are leading the investigation as we determine the circumstances.” Officers were “keeping an open mind about the motivation,” the force said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected.”
The Arndale Center had already been the scene of a terror attack in 1996 when the largest peacetime bomb ever detonated in Britain injured 212. The 1,500-kg truck bomb, planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, caused an estimated £770 million ($970 million) damage.
Two people were also seriously injured last New Year’s Eve when a 25-year-old man went on a stabbing rampage near the city’s Victoria railway station.
He was later detained under mental health legislation.
The Arndale Center is near the Manchester Arena, where the Ariana Grande concert attack happened, and the railway station.


Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

Updated 14 November 2019

Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

  • At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks
  • More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Ahmed Sabrie woke up to find his house half-submerged in fast-rising flood waters.

Frightened and confused, he herded his sleepy family members onto the roof of their home in central Somalia as scores of thousands of people in the town, Beledweyne, scrambled for their lives. Clinging to an electric power pylon by the edge of their roof, the family watched as their possessions were washed away.

“I could hear people, perhaps my neighbors, screaming for help but I could only fight for the survival of my family,” the 38-year-old Sabrie, the father of four, recalled.

As one of his children, unfed, wailed the family waited for more than 10 hours before a passing rescue boat spotted them.

Authorities have not yet said how many people died in the Somalia flooding last month, the country’s worst in recent history and the latest reminder that the Horn of Africa nation must prepare for the extremes expected to come with a changing climate.

At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks. Local officials have said at least 22 people in all are presumed dead and that toll could rise.

“This is a catastrophic situation,” Mayor Safiyo Sheikh Ali said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who visited the town and waded through submerged areas, called the devastation “beyond our capacity” and pleaded for more help from aid groups.

With no proper emergency response plan for natural disasters, local rescuers used rickety wooden dhows to reach trapped people while helicopters provided by the United Nations plucked people from rooftops. African Union and Somali forces have joined the rescue operations and the Somali government airlifted food.

“Many people are still trapped in their submerged houses and we have no capacity and enough equipment to cover all areas,” said Abdirashakur Ahmed, a local official helping to coordinate rescue operations. Hundreds are thought to still be stuck.

With more heavy rains and flash flooding expected, officials warned thousands of displaced people against returning too quickly to their homes.

More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Beledweyne town was the worst affected. Several thousand people were sheltering under trees or in tents.

“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Beledweyne and submerged many surrounding villages,” said Victor Moses, the NRC’s country director.

Aid groups said farms, infrastructure and roads in some areas were destroyed. The destruction of farmland near rivers is expected to contribute to a hunger crisis.

The possibility of further damage from heavy rains in the coming days remains a concern, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Parts of the Lower Juba, Gedo and Bay regions, where IOM has supported displaced populations for years, have been affected. Many displaced people were stranded without food, latrines or shelter.

“In Baidoa, people have moved to high ground where they are in immediate need of support,” said Nasir Arush, the minister for humanitarian and disaster management for South West State.

Survivors like Sabrie now must struggle to rebuild their lives.

“We’re alive, which I am thankful to Allah for, but this flood disaster wreaked havoc on both our livelihoods and households so I see a tough road ahead of us,” he said from a makeshift shelter built on higher ground outside town.