Morocco arrests 25 suspected of planning exit to Spain

Morocco arrests 25 suspected of planning exit to Spain
Migrants run on Spanish soil after crossing the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in Melilla, Spain, on June 24, 2022. (AP/File)
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Updated 09 July 2022

Morocco arrests 25 suspected of planning exit to Spain

Morocco arrests 25 suspected of planning exit to Spain
  • "36 homemade metal objects" were seized in a Tangiers shop that could be used for climbing
  • Last month, at least 23 migrants died while trying to enter Melilla over border fences

RABAT: Moroccan police on Saturday said they arrested more than 20 Africans suspected of planning an illegal crossing into Spain, after a deadly attempt last month.
Police from the northern port city of Tangiers disrupted “an illegal immigration attempt and questioned 25 people originally from sub-Saharan Africa,” the DGNS security service said.
It said in a separate statement that “36 homemade metal objects” were seized in a Tangiers shop that could be used for climbing, but did not specify which of two Spanish enclaves was targeted.
Spain’s Ceuta and Melilla enclaves have the EU’s only land borders with Africa.
Last month, at least 23 migrants died while trying to enter Melilla over border fences. They were among around 2,000 migrants, many from Sudan, who tried to break through the border fence, according to Moroccan authorities.
The DGNS said the suspects, living illegally in Morocco, were arrested at a checkpoint at the entrance to Tangiers immediately after they arrived on a public bus.
On Friday, the European Union and Morocco said they would step up cooperation to combat human trafficking.
At a meeting in Rabat, the two sides
“agreed to renew their partnership in order to work together to tackle human smuggling networks, in particular following the emergence of new, extremely violent, methods adopted by such criminal networks,” a joint statement said.
The mass crossing attempt last month led to by far the worst recorded death toll in years of attempts by migrants to enter Ceuta and Melilla.
The June 24 tragedy provoked international indignation, including an unusually strong response from the United Nations against “use of excessive force by the authorities.”
Spain and Morocco have opened investigations.
Non-governmental groups gave a death toll of at least 37, higher than the official figure.


Witnesses question Israeli claims after killing of Palestinian

Witnesses question Israeli claims after killing of Palestinian
Updated 17 sec ago

Witnesses question Israeli claims after killing of Palestinian

Witnesses question Israeli claims after killing of Palestinian
  • Ammar Mefleh, 22, shot dead at point-blank range by officer following scuffle
  • Mefleh grabbed the rifle but then dropped it, at which point the officer drew his pistol and shot him at close range, killing him

LONDON: Witnesses to the killing of a Palestinian have questioned the accounts of Israeli authorities, who say an officer killed the 22-year-old in self-defense, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Ammar Mefleh was shot dead by an officer at point-blank range in the West Bank on Friday. The killing has sparked widespread condemnation in Palestine, with the UN envoy to the region tweeting that he was “horrified” over Mefleh’s death.

The incident occurred when Mefleh allegedly stabbed the officer in the face following a scuffle.

However, witnesses told the BBC that the man only punched the officer and that there was no knife involved.

It is unclear based on witness testimony and video evidence what led to the incident, but the actions of the officer have been praised in Israel and condemned by Palestinians.

Footage of the incident shows the Israeli officer restraining Mefleh in a headlock, with the latter escaping and trying to seize the policeman’s gun.

Mefleh grabbed the rifle but then dropped it, at which point the officer drew his pistol and shot him at close range, killing him.

Witness Nader Allan told the BBC: “I was standing over there next to the butcher. A settler’s car stopped. I’m not sure if he hit the (Palestinian) guy’s car, or if the guy was walking in the street.

“They started yelling at each other and I heard a shot. The settler shot the guy (Mefleh) in the face. He was bleeding and he fell on the floor.”

Following that initial incident the Israeli officer arrived, eventually leading to Mefleh’s death, Allan said.

Mahmoud Abed, another witness, said he investigated the sound of gunshots after the Israeli driver opened fire.

He added: “We found a guy on the floor with his face covered in blood. A policeman came from far away. He looked at him and kicked him, then the policeman said something on the radio.”

Both witnesses said despite being wounded by the initial shooting, Mefleh confronted the officer who arrived at the scene. This is what led to the scuffle, they added.

Bahaa Odeh, a third witness, said: “Because of how upset I got from what I saw I started shouting at the soldier telling him ‘you’re despicable … there was no danger to your life, why did you kill him?’

“I told him ‘you are a coward … you killed him because he punched you. He has a right to defend himself’.”

As a result of Mefleh’s death, confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli authorities later descended into violence.

In the West Bank this year, more than 150 Palestinians have been killed, almost entirely by Israeli forces.


Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary

Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary
Updated 06 December 2022

Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary

Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary
  • Another 11 people, including 3 children, were handed lengthy jail terms

TEHRAN: Iran has sentenced to death five people over the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during nationwide protests, the judiciary said Tuesday.
Another 11 people, including three children, were handed lengthy jail terms over the death of Ruhollah Ajamian, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told a news conference, adding the sentences could be appealed.
A group of 15 people had been charged with “corruption on earth” over the death of Ajamian on November 3 in Karaj, a city west of Tehran, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported last week.
Prosecutors said Ajamian, 27, was stripped naked and killed by a group of mourners who had been paying tribute to a slain protester, Hadis Najafi, during ceremonies marking 40 days since her death.
Najafi was killed during unrest that has gripped Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.
Initially, on November 12, Mizan Online announced charges for 11 people over Ajamian’s killing, including a woman but as the trial opened, it said 15 defendants in the case had been charged.
An Iranian general said on Monday that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of members of the security forces.
Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been arrested, including 40 foreigners and prominent actors, journalists and lawyers.
The latest court rulings bring to 11 the number of people sentenced to death in Iran over the violence sparked by Amini’s death.


Kuwait’s Prime Minister heads to Qatar for World Cup

Kuwait’s Prime Minister heads to Qatar for World Cup
Updated 06 December 2022

Kuwait’s Prime Minister heads to Qatar for World Cup

Kuwait’s Prime Minister heads to Qatar for World Cup
  • Visit came in response to invitation from the Qatari prime minister

DOHA: Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah headed to Qatar on Tuesday to attend a FIFA World Cup match in Doha, state news agency (KUNA) reported.

His visit came in response to the invitation from his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Khaled bin Khalifa Al Thani.

On Monday, the UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan visited Doha where he held talks with Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.


1,200 Iranian students ‘poisoned’ on eve of mass protests

1,200 Iranian students ‘poisoned’ on eve of mass protests
Updated 06 December 2022

1,200 Iranian students ‘poisoned’ on eve of mass protests

1,200 Iranian students ‘poisoned’ on eve of mass protests
  • National student union blames outbreak on authorities
  • Streets surrounding universities littered with contaminated food dumped by students

LONDON: A group of 1,200 university students in Iran have been struck by a food poisoning outbreak on the eve of anti-regime demonstrations set to be held throughout the country, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The students at Kharazmi and Arak universities, as well as four other institutions, threw their provided food onto surrounding streets in protest, with the country’s national student union accusing authorities of deliberately poisoning people.

In a statement, the union said: “Our past experiences of similar incidents at the Isfahan university negates the authorities’ reason for this mass food poisoning.”

Officials have blamed the outbreak on water-borne bacteria.

However, clinics in several affected universities have also closed or run out of supplies to treat dehydration and other associated symptoms of food poisoning, in a sign that the outbreak may have been a deliberate strategy to thwart the national protest movement.

It came as a three-day nationwide strike was due to begin on Wednesday, intensifying public pressure against the regime.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities denied reports that the regime would disband the country’s morality police.

The religious force was behind the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody in September, triggering mass protests.

A state broadcaster said: “No official in the Islamic Republic of Iran has confirmed the closure of the morality police.

“Some foreign media have tried to characterize the attorney general’s statement as the Islamic Republic’s withdrawal from its hijab (laws) and influenced by the recent riots.”

As more Iranian public figures show support for the protest movement, authorities on Monday closed two businesses belonging to former national football team star Ali Daei.

The ex-striker, who scored 109 international goals, said last week that he had faced threats after showing public support for the anti-regime movement.

A jewelry store as well as a restaurant belonging to Daei were closed during the move by authorities.

A state news agency said: “Following the cooperation with anti-revolutionary groups in cyberspace to disrupt peace and business of the market, a judicial order was issued to seal Noor Jewelry Gallery.”


Iran arrests 12 with alleged European links: report

Iran arrests 12 with alleged European links: report
Updated 06 December 2022

Iran arrests 12 with alleged European links: report

Iran arrests 12 with alleged European links: report
  • Iran said the arrested had connections with Germany and Netherlands
  • The 12 individuals were arrested for carrying out “activities against national security”

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested 12 alleged members of a European-linked group accused of planning acts of sabotage in the country, Tasnim news agency said.
The Islamic republic has been rocked by more than two months of what it calls deadly “riots” that it says have been fomented by the United States, its allies and foreign-based opposition groups.
The street violence erupted in mid-September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, in the custody of the morality police in Tehran.
In a statement quoted by Tasnim, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Markazi province, southwest of Tehran, said it had arrested “a network with 12 members with links abroad.”
It alleged they had been “under the guidance of counter-revolutionary agents living in Germany and the Netherlands” and carried out “activities against national security.”
They had “attempted to procure weapons and intended to carry out subversive acts” but had been captured before being able to do so, it added.
The Guards statement said the “riots project has failed,” in reference to the nationwide protests triggered by Amini’s death.
It warned that acts of sabotage would continue, however, and appealed for the “vigilance of loyal people... especially shopkeepers, students and workers” to foil them.
It appeared to be referring to calls for a three-day strike culminating Wednesday on “Student Day,” as part of the protests.
An Iranian general said last week that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of security personnel.
Oslo-based non-government organization Iran Human Rights said at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests.”
Thousands have been arrested, including prominent Iranian actors and footballers.