Two killed, 120 wounded in Abu Dhabi gas explosion, police say

Debris covers the street after an explosion in the Khalidiya district of Abu Dhabi, UAE, Monday, May 23, 2022. (Abu Dhabi Police/AP)
Debris covers the street after an explosion in the Khalidiya district of Abu Dhabi, UAE, Monday, May 23, 2022. (Abu Dhabi Police/AP)
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Updated 26 May 2022

Two killed, 120 wounded in Abu Dhabi gas explosion, police say

Two killed, 120 wounded in Abu Dhabi gas explosion, police say
  • Civil defense firefighters managed to contain the fire, which damaged several shops and the facades of six buildings

ABU DHABI/DUBAI: Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, police said.
Initial reports “showed that 64 people sustained minor injuries, 56 others were moderately wounded, and two people died,” police tweeted.
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores before being brought under control, they added.
The explosion struck a restaurant just after 1 p.m. in Abu Dhabi’s Khalidiya neighborhood, just a few blocks from the capital’s beachfront corniche.
Four of the damaged buildings were “safely” evacuated, with efforts underway to find their residents temporary housing “until the buildings are completely secured,” the police said.
“The injured were transferred to the hospital to receive necessary health care, with material damage to shops and facades of six buildings,” the police said. They described an investigation into the blast as ongoing.
Pictures released by Abu Dhabi police showed first responders tending to a person on a gurney, and debris and broken glass strewn across the pavement.
A witness told The National newspaper that he heard two explosions around lunchtime.
“The first sound was small and people started calling the fire and police,” said the man, who was not identified.
“Then soon, there was a big blast. It was a really big sound. The windows shook and in some offices, the windows shattered.”
The authorities gave no indication of foul play.
However, the UAE has been on heightened alert since a Yemen militant drone and missile attack killed three oil workers in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17.
Authorities have since thwarted three similar attacks, including one claimed by a little-known militant group believed to have ties with pro-Iran armed factions in Iraq.
The UAE is part of a coalition that has been fighting in Yemen since 2015 to support the government against Iran-backed Houthi militia, who control the capital Sanaa.
The UAE, a federation of seven desert sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, does face seasonal fires brought on by the intense heat that bakes this nation each summer. Temperatures hit 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday.
(With AFP and AP)


Al Jazeera reporter likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, US says

Al Jazeera reporter likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, US says
Updated 56 min 15 sec ago

Al Jazeera reporter likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, US says

Al Jazeera reporter likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, US says
  • Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was killed on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank
  • The US Security Coordinator concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for her death

WASHINGTON: Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, but independent investigators could not reach a definitive conclusion about the origin of the bullet that struck her, the US State Department said on Monday.
Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was killed on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
The US Security Coordinator (USSC), after summarizing investigations by both the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority, concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, the State Department said.
“The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the State Department said in a statement.
In forensic analysis by third-party examiners overseen by the USSC, however, ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged which prevented a clear conclusion as to its origin, the State Department said.
Palestinians have said the Israeli military deliberately killed Abu Akleh. Israel has denied this, saying she may have been hit by errant army fire or by a bullet from one of the Palestinian gunmen who were clashing with its forces at the scene.
The death of Abu Akleh, and feuding between the sides over the circumstances, have overshadowed a visit by US President Joe Biden due this month.


Lebanese PM criticizes Hezbollah over drone provocation

Lebanese PM criticizes Hezbollah over drone provocation
Updated 04 July 2022

Lebanese PM criticizes Hezbollah over drone provocation

Lebanese PM criticizes Hezbollah over drone provocation
  • The Israeli military said on Saturday said that it has shot down the three drones
  • Hezbollah issued a statement saying they were unarmed and were sent on a reconnaissance mission

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister on Monday criticized the militant group Hezbollah for sending three unmanned aircraft over an Israeli gas installation last week, saying it was an unnecessarily risky action.
Najib Mikati’s comment came two days after Hezbollah launched three drones over the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Israeli military said on Saturday that it has shot down the three drones, before Hezbollah issued a statement saying they were unarmed and were sent on a reconnaissance mission. “The mission was accomplished and the message was received,” Hezbollah said.
Lebanon claims the Karish gas field is disputed territory under ongoing maritime border negotiations, whereas Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.
“Lebanon believes that any actions outside the state’s framework and diplomatic context while negotiations are taking place is unacceptable and exposes it to unnecessary risks,” Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib said, citing Mikati’s statement.
Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies that fought a monthlong war in the summer of 2006. Israel considers the group its most serious immediate threat, estimating it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.
The incident in the Karish gas field took place soon after US mediator Amos Hochstein recently visited Lebanese and Israeli officials, as talks were advancing.
Mikati on Saturday told reporters that Lebanon had received “encouraging information” regarding the border dispute, but refused to comment until after he receives a “written official response to the suggestions by the Lebanese side.”
Negotiations between Lebanon and Israel to determine their maritime borders commenced in October 2020, when the two sides held indirect US-mediated talks in southern Lebanon. Since taking over the mediation from late 2021, Hochstein has resorted to shuttle diplomacy with visits to both Beirut and Jerusalem.
The two countries, which have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948, both claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to exploit offshore gas reserves as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in its modern history.


Egypt, Austria discuss security cooperation

Egypt, Austria discuss security cooperation
Updated 04 July 2022

Egypt, Austria discuss security cooperation

Egypt, Austria discuss security cooperation

CAIRO: Egypt’s Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfiq met with his Austrian counterpart Gerhard Karner to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between their countries, and the latest developments in security issues of common interest.

Karner, heading a delegation of Austrian officials, said his visit to Egypt comes within the framework of close relations and continuous consultation between officials from the two countries.

He affirmed Austria’s interest in exchanging experiences with Egyptian security services, and his aspiration to strengthen channels of communication between the two sides in light of regional and international political and security challenges.

Tawfiq stressed his ministry’s keenness to build bridges of communication with Austrian security services in light of the friendly relations between the two countries, indicating his interest in strengthening cooperation mechanisms and exchanging experiences. 

He stressed the concerted efforts to combat terrorism, as well as cyber and organized crime, in all their forms.


Egyptian envoy, Fatah official hold talks

Egyptian envoy, Fatah official hold talks
Updated 04 July 2022

Egyptian envoy, Fatah official hold talks

Egyptian envoy, Fatah official hold talks
  • The issues discussed included Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, incursions into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, and settler violence

CAIRO: Tarek Tayel, head of Egypt’s mission in Ramallah, met with Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s central committee, and discussed the latest political developments regarding Palestine.

The issues discussed included Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, incursions into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, and settler violence.

After the meeting, Tayel affirmed the continuation of Egyptian support for the Palestinian people at all levels, including peace efforts that guarantee the restoration of their rights, intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip.

He praised the efforts of Rajoub’s team to pay attention to youth activities and events, in light of his presidency of the Palestinian Olympic Committee.


UN rights mission finds ‘probable’ mass graves in Libya

UN rights mission finds ‘probable’ mass graves in Libya
Updated 04 July 2022

UN rights mission finds ‘probable’ mass graves in Libya

UN rights mission finds ‘probable’ mass graves in Libya
  • Militia run by seven brothers executed and imprisoned hundreds of people between 2016-2020
  • Surviving leaders of the Kaniyat are mostly believed to have fled to areas of eastern Libya

GENEVA: A UN-appointed mission to Libya said on Monday there are “probable mass graves” yet to be investigated, possibly as many as 100, in a town where hundreds of bodies have already been found and it urged Tripoli to continue searching.
The report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council this week details how a militia run by seven brothers executed and imprisoned hundreds of people between 2016-2020, sometimes keeping them in tiny oven-like structures called “the boxes” which were set alight during interrogations.
The evidence of kidnappings, murder and torture in Tarhouna by the independent Fact-Finding Mission represents one of the most egregious examples of human rights abuses in the turbulent period since long-ruling Muammar Qaddafi’s ousting in 2011.
Among the victims were the disabled as well as women and children, the 51-page report said.
Based on the testimonies of residents and two site visits, the mission found “reasonable grounds” that the Kaniyat militia committed crimes against humanity. It identified four commanders who participated directly in them.
Already, Libyan authorities have recovered 247 bodies in mass and individual grave sites in the Tarhouna area in Western Libya. Many were still handcuffed and blindfolded.
The mission used satellite imagery showing signs of soil disturbances among other evidence to identify three new likely sites. But there could be many more, it said, citing an existing grave known as ‘The Landfill’ where just a tiny fraction of the site has been investigated.
“According to insider knowledge, there might still be up to 100 as of yet undiscovered mass graves,” the report said.
It is not immediately clear how the findings will reflect on Libyan authorities. Libya’s diplomatic mission in Geneva did not respond for a request for comment.
At one stage, the Kaniyat was aligned with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord but later with the eastern Libyan National Army led by commander Khalifa Haftar that tried, unsuccessfully, to overthrow the National Accord administration. The militia no longer holds authority in Tarhouna. The surviving leaders of the Kaniyat are mostly believed to have fled to areas of eastern Libya under Haftar’s control.
In its conclusions, the FFM calls on Libyan authorities to continue searching for the graves. It also urges them to establish a special tribunal to prosecute international crimes.
However, the report refers to difficulties with cooperation in the past. Diplomats and UN sources told Reuters that Libya had in the past expressed reservations about continuing the mission, which expires this month.
A resolution is currently before the Geneva-based council to keep investigations going for another nine months, which is less than some had hoped for. A decision is expected this week.