A number of people killed in shooting incident in Plymouth, England

Air Ambulances from Devon and Cornwall were called to the site of an incident believed to be a shooting in Plymouth, England. (Screenshot/Twitter)
Air Ambulances from Devon and Cornwall were called to the site of an incident believed to be a shooting in Plymouth, England. (Screenshot/Twitter)
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Updated 13 August 2021

A number of people killed in shooting incident in Plymouth, England

Air Ambulances from Devon and Cornwall were called to the site of an incident believed to be a shooting in Plymouth, England. (Screenshot/Twitter)
  • Media reports said five or six people had been killed in the incident and a gunman reportedly shot dead by police

PLYMOUTH: A number of people have been killed in a serious firearms incident in Plymouth, southwest England, on Thursday evening, police said, adding that they believed the situation was contained.

Media reports said five or six people had been killed in the incident and a gunman reportedly shot dead by police. Police did not confirm the number of fatalities.

Devon & Cornwall Police said they were called to the Keyham area of the city at 6.10 p.m. on Thursday.

“There have been a number of fatalities at the scene and several other casualties are receiving treatment,” they said.

Local lawmaker Johnny Mercer said on Twitter: “The incident is not terror related, and neither is the suspect on the run in Plymouth.”

“I am aware of a serious and tragic incident unfolding in Plymouth. Please obey all instructions from the police,” Mercer, a member of parliament for the Conservative Party, posted on Twitter.

South Western Ambulance Service earlier said it had responded to the incident with a significant number of resources, including Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART), multiple ambulances, air ambulances, multiple doctors and senior paramedics.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel called the incident “shocking” and that her thoughts were “with those affected” but did not reveal further details of what occurred.

“I have spoken to the Chief Constable and offered my full support," she tweeted. “I urge everyone to remain calm, follow police advice and allow our emergency services to get on with their jobs."

British media said witnesses had reported hearing loud bangs and gunshots before police swamped the area.


UK monarch won’t visit UN climate conference in person

UK monarch won’t visit UN climate conference in person
Updated 56 min 59 sec ago

UK monarch won’t visit UN climate conference in person

UK monarch won’t visit UN climate conference in person
  • The 95-year-old monarch has “regretfully’’ decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the reception on Nov. 1
  • “Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message,’’ the palace said

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II has canceled her planned engagement at the UN climate conference, accepting doctors’ advice to rest, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday.
The 95-year-old monarch has “regretfully’’ decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the reception on Nov. 1 — a move that will dash the hopes of Britain’s Conservative government, which is hosting the event. The climate conference runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.
“Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message,’’ the palace said.
The news came after the sovereign held virtual audiences Tuesday at Windsor Castle — the first work obligations since revelations that her doctors ordered her to rest last week.
The 95-year-old sovereign greeted the ambassador of the Republic of Korea during her first technology-aided appearance since she was driven to London’s King Edward VII’s Hospital on Oct. 20 for “preliminary investigations.” She returned to her Windsor Castle home at lunchtime the next day.
The queen underwent the medical tests after she canceled a scheduled trip to mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland, and the palace said she had “reluctantly” accepted advice to rest for a few days. The matter was not related to COVID-19.
The period of rest followed a hectic few days for the monarch in which she held audiences with diplomats, had a reception at Windsor Castle for global business leaders and attended the horse races at Ascot.
Her hospital visit last week came amid general disquiet about Elizabeth’s health. Days earlier, she was seen using a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service marking the centenary of the Royal British Legion, an armed forces charity. Though she had used a cane in 2003, it was after she underwent knee surgery.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip, died in April 2021 at age 99. Though Elizabeth has enjoyed robust health throughout her life, she is Britain’s longest-lived and longest-reigning monarch. She is due to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee — 70 years on the throne — next year.


Up to 3 migrants feared dead off English coast

Up to 3 migrants feared dead off English coast
Updated 26 October 2021

Up to 3 migrants feared dead off English coast

Up to 3 migrants feared dead off English coast
  • Search teams continue to look for the people, believed to be Somalis
  • MP: ‘The potential loss of life is extremely distressing’

LONDON: British Border Force officers and rescue teams are searching the English Channel amid fears that three migrants have died trying to cross from France to England in a small boat.

Two more people have been pulled from the water by rescuers, who continue to search the area using a helicopter and plane.

After being alerted to the distressed boat on Monday, officers continued to search for any more survivors well into Tuesday.

It is understood that they are looking for Somali passengers who may have left France as early as the weekend, the Daily Mail reported.

Days of treacherous weather and winds have further exacerbated fears for the safety of the other passengers.

Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said: “Obviously the potential loss of life is extremely distressing. We should be extremely grateful to Border Force, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and search and rescue teams for all their efforts.”

He added: “We must redouble our efforts to deal with the criminal gangs who are trafficking migrants, taking money from them and putting them in great peril.”

If the three missing individuals are confirmed dead, this incident will have been one of the deadliest ever off the coast of England.

The UK has experienced record numbers of arrivals of refugees and migrants crossing in small boats from France.

The short but treacherous journey has been made by an estimated 2,500 people in October alone.

Figures so far this year have tripled those from the whole of 2020, with some 19,500 making crossings compared with 8,410.

A Coastguard spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “HM Coastguard will continue to safeguard life around the seas and coastal areas of the UK, working with search and rescue resources in the area.

“If a vessel needs search and rescue assistance, HM Coastguard will continue to respond and rescue those in danger.”

Despite controversy from anti-immigration elements of British society and media, the RNLI — a life-saving service at sea that relies almost entirely on public donations — has reiterated its firm commitment to protecting the lives of anyone caught in distress off Britain’s coast.

“Those we rescue are vulnerable people in danger & distress,” it tweeted earlier this year. “Each of them is someone’s father, mother, son or daughter — every life is precious. This is why we launch.”


Daesh in Afghanistan could be able to attack US in 6 months-Pentagon official

Daesh in Afghanistan could be able to attack US in 6 months-Pentagon official
Updated 26 October 2021

Daesh in Afghanistan could be able to attack US in 6 months-Pentagon official

Daesh in Afghanistan could be able to attack US in 6 months-Pentagon official
  • Afghanistan could still pose serious national security concerns for the US even after it ended its two-decade-old war in defeat in August
  • Undersecretary of defense for policy said it was still unclear whether the Taliban has the ability to fight Daesh effectively following the US withdrawal

WASHINGTON: The US intelligence community has assessed that Daesh in Afghanistan could have the capability to attack the US in as little as six months, and has the intention to do so, a senior Pentagon official told Congress on Tuesday.
The remarks by Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, are the latest reminder that Afghanistan could still pose serious national security concerns for the United States even after it ended its two-decade-old war in defeat in August.
The Taliban, which won the war, are enemies of Daesh and have seen its attempts to impose law and order after the US pullout thwarted by suicide bombings and other attacks claimed by Daesh.
They include bombings targeting the minority Shiite sect and even a Daesh beheading of a member of a Taliban militia force in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kahl said it was still unclear whether the Taliban has the ability to fight Daesh effectively following the US withdrawal in August. The United States fought the Taliban as well as striking groups like Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
“It is our assessment that the Taliban and Daesh-K are mortal enemies. So the Taliban is highly motivated to go after Daesh-K. Their ability to do so, I think, is to be determined,” Kahl said, using an acronym for Daesh in Afghanistan.
Kahl estimated Daesh had a “cadre of a few thousand” fighters.
Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the new Taliban government has said the threat from Daesh militants will be addressed. He also said Afghanistan would not become a base for attacks on other countries.
Kahl suggested Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan posed a more complex problem, given its ties to the Taliban. It was those ties that triggered the US military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 following Al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The Taliban had harbored Al-Qaeda leaders.
Kahl said it could take Al-Qaeda “a year or two” to regenerate the capability to carry out attacks outside of Afghanistan against the United States.
Democratic President Joe Biden, whose supervision of the chaotic end to the war last summer has damaged his approval ratings, has said the United States will continue to be vigilant against threats emanating from Afghanistan by carrying out intelligence-gathering operations in the country that would identify threats from groups like Al-Qaeda and Daesh.
Kahl said the goal was to disrupt those groups so that Daesh and Al-Qaeda don’t become capable of striking the United States.
“We need to be vigilant in disrupting that,” he said.
Still, US officials privately warn that identifying and disrupting groups like Al-Qaeda and Daesh is extremely difficult without any troops in the country. Drones capable of striking Daesh and Al-Qaeda targets are being flown in from the Gulf.
Kahl said the United States did not yet have any agreement with countries neighboring Afghanistan to host troops for counterterrorism efforts.


British police allegedly tried to remove protesting husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

British police allegedly tried to remove protesting husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Updated 26 October 2021

British police allegedly tried to remove protesting husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

British police allegedly tried to remove protesting husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
  • Richard Ratcliffe was protesting outside UK Foreign Office over London’s alleged inaction regarding his wife’s detention in Iran
  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained by Tehran for over five years for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government

LONDON: Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has claimed that British police tried to remove him from his protest outside the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and has pledged to stay until the government responds to his demands.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran for over five years on national security charges that she strenuously denies. Her husband has argued repeatedly that the UK is not doing enough to secure her release.

Ratcliffe began a hunger strike over the weekend to pressure the government to do more to bring his wife home, and he alleges that police tried to remove him from his picket outside the FCDO at 3.45 a.m. on Monday morning.

He said that despite the attempted removal, he intends to stay until Whitehall takes action, according to the Evening Standard newspaper.

Ratcliffe was joined by his daughter Gabriella on Monday.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in Iran since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government. She has spent four years in the notorious Evin prison and one under house arrest in her family’s home in Tehran.

Her family said Iranian authorities revealed she was being held as a bargaining chip over a historic debt between the UK and pre-revolutionary Iranian government worth £400 million ($552.168 million).

Ratcliffe told the Standard: “I’m staying until the government responds. I’m hoping that response is to engage with the demands and not to tell the police to move me on.”

He has demanded that Whitehall “acknowledge Nazanin and the others as hostages, punish the perpetrators, keep the promise to settle the debt and commit to end state hostage taking in Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiations.”

The JCPOA, often referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, is currently being renegotiated by world powers including the US and European nations with Iran. Critics have said that the narrow deal focuses too heavily on Iran’s nuclear activity without addressing other malignant behavior, such as support for regional proxies and the use of kidnapping as a tool of diplomacy.

Ratcliffe has lamented the harm that the ordeal is doing to his daughter, who herself was previously not allowed to leave Iran. He has also criticized the British government for its treatment of his family.

“Two years ago we were allowed to camp in front of the Iranian Embassy for 15 days, much to their considerable anger. But it got Gabriella home. We are now giving the UK government the same treatment.

“In truth, I never expected to have to do a hunger strike twice. It is not a normal act,” he said. “It seems extraordinary, the need to adopt the same tactics to persuade the government here, to cut through the accountability gap.

“Of course Iran still remains the primary abuser in Nazanin’s case. But our family is caught in a dispute between two states.”

He added: “The UK is also letting us down.”

Sacha Deshmukh, interim CEO of Amnesty International UK, said: “It’s so incredibly upsetting that it’s come to this.

“Like Richard, we’ve grown tired of hearing ministers saying they’re ‘doing all they can’ for Nazanin and other arbitrarily-detained Britons in Iran — it doesn’t look like that to us, and it certainly hasn’t produced results.”

A spokesperson for the FCDO said: “Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through.

“Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison, Iran must release her permanently so she can return home.

“We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and we will continue to press Iran on this point.”


30 Brits in video plea for help escaping Afghanistan

30 Brits in video plea for help escaping Afghanistan
Updated 26 October 2021

30 Brits in video plea for help escaping Afghanistan

30 Brits in video plea for help escaping Afghanistan
  • UK govt appears to have ‘completely forgotten and abandoned us’
  • The 30 are part of group of 100 stranded Brits

LONDON: A group of 30 Britons stranded in Afghanistan has released a video pleading for help in getting them and their families out of the country, accusing London of abandoning them to the Taliban.

Sixteen men, many of them clasping their British passports, appeared in the video, begging the British government to evacuate them and their families.

A spokesperson for the group said there are 100 of them in the country, all part of a WhatsApp group, and 30 had managed to make it to Kabul in secret to record the message earlier this month.

“We demand that the government doesn’t walk away from its responsibilities towards its citizens and their families,” he said. “We need to get back to our lives in the UK.”

The Taliban seized Afghanistan from the former government in July and August this year, in an offensive that was so swift that it caught the US, the UK and other countries off guard.

The British group’s spokesperson said their numbers include healthcare workers, plumbers, taxi drivers, engineers and more, and requested that visa requirements be waived for their family members in order to speed up their removal from Afghanistan.

“We can’t forget the enormous sacrifices men and women in uniform made to help and evacuate thousands to safety during Operation Pitting — we stand with them and we thank them. But the mission isn’t accomplished yet,” he said. “We’re still stranded and need to get back to our lives in the UK.”

In their video message, the Britons highlighted how American evacuations from Kabul airport — which is now fully functional — have continued, while it appears that London has “completely forgotten and abandoned us.”

The spokesperson said: “We demand the UK government to act now and arrange for chartered flights immediately for all the British citizens and their immediate family members.”