One suspect in Canadian stabbings found dead, the other still wanted

Investigators gather in front of the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AP)
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Investigators gather in front of the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AP)
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks next to images of Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson during a press conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AP)
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Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks next to images of Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson during a press conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AP)
One suspect in Canadian stabbings found dead, the other still wanted
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A police officer walks through the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan, on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 06 September 2022

One suspect in Canadian stabbings found dead, the other still wanted

Investigators gather in front of the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AP)
  • The attacks happened at multiple locations, including James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon in Saskatchewan, and there were 13 crime scenes that police were investigating, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan said

WELDON, Saskatchewan: Canadian police said Monday one of the suspects in the killing of 10 people in a series of stabbings has been found dead, and his injuries are not self inflicted. They said his brother, also a suspect, may be injured and remains on the run.
Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said Damien Sanderson, 31, has been found dead and that they believe Myles Sanderson, 30, is in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Canadian police searched Monday for two men suspected of killing 10 people in a series of stabbings in an Indigenous community and a nearby town, as a massive manhunt for the perpetrators of one of the deadliest attacks in the nation’s history stretched into its second day.
Authorities have said some of the victims were targeted and others appeared to have been chosen at random on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the town of Weldon in Saskatchewan province. They have given no motive for the crimes, which also left 18 people injured — but a senior Indigenous leader suggested drugs were somehow involved.
Police believe the suspects were last spotted around midday on Sunday in the provincial capital of Regina, about 335 kilometers (210 miles) south of where the stabbings happened. Police believe they are still in the city, but didn’t say why they think that. Authorities issued alerts in Canada’s three vast prairie provinces — which also include Manitoba and Alberta — and contacted US border officials.
With the suspects still at large, fear gripped communities in the rural, working class area of Saskatchewan surrounded by farmland that were terrorized by the crimes. One witness who said he lost family members described seeing people with bloody wounds scattered throughout the Indigenous reserve.
“No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They’re going to be terrified to open their door,” said Ruby Works, who also lost someone close to her and is a resident of Weldon, which has a population of about 200 and is home to many retirees.
As the Labor Day holiday weekend drew to a close Monday, police urged Saskatchewan residents who were returning from trips away to look for suspicious activity around their homes before entering.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, and both men face at least one count each of murder and attempted murder. More charges are expected.
Police have given few details about the men. Last May, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers issued a wanted list that included Myles Sanderson, writing that he was “unlawfully at large.”
While the manhunt continued, police also issued a provincewide alert for suspects in a shooting on the Witchekan Lake First Nation. Officials said the shooting was not believed to be connected to the stabbings, but such alerts are unusual and the fact that a second occurred while authorities were already scouring the Saskatchewan for the stabbing suspects was notable.
The stabbing attack was among the deadliest mass killings in Canada, where such crimes are less common than in the United States. The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history happened in 2020, when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people. In 2019, a man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto.
Deadly mass stabbings are rarer than mass shootings, but have happened around the world. In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in China’s southwestern city of Kunming. In 2016, a mass stabbing at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead. A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and stabbing attack at London Bridge.
“It is horrific what has occurred in our province,” said Rhonda Blackmore, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan.
Police got their first call about a stabbing at 5:40 a.m. on Sunday, and within minutes heard about several more. In all, dead or wounded people were found at 13 different locations on the sparsely populated reserve and in the town, Blackmore said. James Smith Cree Nation is about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Weldon.
She couldn’t provide a motive, but the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations suggested the stabbings could be drug-related.
“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we demand all authorities to take direction from the chiefs and councils and their membership to create safer and healthier communities for our people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron.
As the manhunt stretched on, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray urged anyone with information to come forward.
Bray said they got a credible tip they were in Regina and he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that following a “very aggressive investigation” police believe they are still in the city.
The elected leaders of the three communities that make up the James Smith Cree Nation declared a local state of emergency.
Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson — who apparently is not related to the suspects — said everyone has been affected by the tragic events.
“They were our relatives, friends,” Sanderson said of the victims. “It’s pretty horrific.”
Among the 10 killed was Lana Head, who is the former partner of Michael Brett Burns and the mother of their two daughters.
“It’s sick how jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives,” Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “I’m hurt for all this loss.”
Burns later posted on Facebook that there were dead and wounded people everywhere on the reserve, making it look like “a war zone.”
“The look in their eyes couldn’t express the pain and suffering for all those who were assaulted,” he posted.
Doreen Lees, an 89-year grandmother from Weldon, said she and her daughter thought they saw one of the suspects when a car came barreling down her street early Sunday as her daughter was having coffee on her deck. Lees said a man approached them and said he was hurt and needed help.
But Lees said the man took off after her daughter said she would call for help.
“He wouldn’t show his face. He had a big jacket over his face. We asked his name and he kind of mumbled his name twice and we still couldn’t get it,” she said. “He said his face was injured so bad he couldn’t show it.”
She said she began to follow him because she was concerned about him, but her daughter told her to come back to the house.
Weldon residents have identified one of the dead as Wes Petterson, a retired widower who made he coffee every morning at the senior center. He loved gardening, picking berries, canning, and making jam and cakes, recalled William Works, 47, and his mother, Sharon Works, 64.
“He would give you the shirt off his back if he could,” William Works said, describing his neighbor as a “gentle old fellow” and “community first.”
Sharon Works was baffled: “I don’t understand why they would target someone like him anyway, because he was just a poor, helpless little man, 100 pounds soaking wet. And he could hardly breathe because he had asthma and emphysema and everybody cared about him because that’s the way he was. He cared about everybody else. And they cared about him.”
The pair said there is hardly any crime in the rural town, except an occasional speeding ticket. They always left the door unlocked until the night of the slayings.
“Not even when I go to town, I don’t lock my door,” Sharon Works said. “But now I have to find my key to my house. I never used to lock the doors and nobody around here until this happened.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the flag above Canada’s parliament building in Ottawa would be flown at half-staff to honor the victims.
“Sadly, over these past years, tragedies like these have become all too common place. Saskatchewanians and Canadians will do what we always do in times of difficulty and anguish, we will be there for each other,” Trudeau said.
 


Cleveland police investigating report of missing Saudi citizen

Omar Al-Anazi. (Police photo)
Omar Al-Anazi. (Police photo)
Updated 29 January 2023

Cleveland police investigating report of missing Saudi citizen

Omar Al-Anazi. (Police photo)
  • The police have categorized the disappearance as “endangered” because of his circumstances as a visitor to the city with limited English language skills

CHICAGO: Police in Cleveland, Ohio released a statement Sunday saying they are actively investigating the Jan. 27 reported disappearance of a visiting Saudi citizen, Omar Al-Anazi.

Al-Anazi, 30, was last seen around 10 a.m. by friends after spending time in the city’s tourist area along the Lake Erie waterfront.

According to witnesses, he was socializing with friends in the downtown area when he was reported missing, the Cleveland Division of Police officials said.

“He went with a group to the East 9th Street Pier at approximately 2:30 a.m. to look at the water and was reportedly intoxicated,” officials of the Cleveland Division of Police Department said in a statement.

When the group went to leave, the statement added, “Al-Anazi reportedly walked away.”

Cleveland Police said that Al-Anazi’s friends searched for him but were unable to locate him. The police have categorized the disappearance as “endangered” because of his circumstances as a visitor to the city with limited English language skills.

Al-Anazi, police said, is visiting from Saudi Arabia and reportedly does not speak English.

He was last seen wearing a beige jacket and pants.

Cleveland Police are asking anyone with information to contact them immediately by calling 1-216-621-1234.

 


At least 50 killed in twin transport mishaps in Pakistan 

At least 50 killed in twin transport mishaps in Pakistan 
Updated 29 January 2023

At least 50 killed in twin transport mishaps in Pakistan 

At least 50 killed in twin transport mishaps in Pakistan 
  • A passenger bus fell into a ravine and caught fire in Balochistan’s Bela area, killing at least 40 people 
  • In second mishap, 10 children were killed after their ferry capsized in country’s northwest on Sunday 

KARACHI: At least 50 people were killed in two separate transport tragedies in Pakistan on Sunday, officials said, renewing a debate about poor transport safety protocols in the South Asian country.  

In the first incident, a passenger bus fell into a ravine and later caught fire in the Bela area of Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, where road accidents claim thousands of lives annually.   

Balochistan, a mountainous, desert region bordering Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest but most impoverished province, with a staggering 40,000-km network of road infrastructure.   

According to the motorway police, 6,000 to 8,000 people die each year in accidents across the Balochistan province, mainly on single-lane roads that have infamously come to be known as “killer highways.”   

“A bus going from Quetta to Karachi plunged into a ravine and caught fire at around 3 a.m.,” Hamza Anjum Nadeem, the Bela assistant commissioner, told Arab News. “At least 39 bodies have been recovered and a search for others is underway.”  

Anjum later confirmed the death of another passenger, taking the count to 40. Of these, 38 dead bodies were being moved to the southern port city of Karachi, 177 km away from Bela, for medico-legal formalities, Karachi Police Surgeon Dr. Summaiya Syed told Arab News.  

Balochistan is the epicenter of the $64 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a road and infrastructure development plan, which aims to ultimately provide the shortest route for Chinese cargo headed for the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. 

Major roads are slated for construction under the CPEC, including the road from Balochistan’s Khuzdar district to the Chinese-funded, deep-water port of Gwadar. But for now, the absence of dual carriageways, inadequate training of drivers, and a lack of highway patrols mean thousands continue to die on these roads each year.

In another incident, 10 children died when their boat capsized in Tanda Dam lake near Kohat in the country’s northwest, according to police.  

All of the dead recovered so far were aged between 7 and 14 years, local police official Mir Rauf told the AFP news agency. Rauf said 11 children had been rescued from the water, with six in critical condition. The boat was carrying between 25 and 30 students on a day trip from a local madrassa when it overturned.  

“A rescue operation is underway,” Rauf said. Mass drownings are common in Pakistan when aged and overloaded vessels lose their stability and pitch passengers into the water. In July, 18 women drowned when an overcrowded boat carrying a wedding party across the Indus river in Punjab province capsized.  

The South Asian country also has poor road safety controls, and thousands of lives are lost to road crashes each year, particularly in the southwestern Balochistan province.  

According to the National Road Safety Strategy 2018-2030, a report administered by the Asian Development Bank that cited police data, 6,548 people died at the scene of an accident on Pakistan’s roads in 2016. Of these, 355 fatalities happened on national highways and 6,003 on provincial roads.  

At least seven people were killed and 15 others were injured after a passenger bus collided with a truck in Balochistan’s Killa Saifullah district this month. In June last year, 22 people were killed when a passenger bus veered off a narrow road and fell into a ravine in the same district.


Taliban raise concerns over ‘problems’ faced by Afghan refugees in Iran 

Taliban raise concerns over ‘problems’ faced by Afghan refugees in Iran 
Updated 29 January 2023

Taliban raise concerns over ‘problems’ faced by Afghan refugees in Iran 

Taliban raise concerns over ‘problems’ faced by Afghan refugees in Iran 
  • About 3 million Afghans are living in Iran, most of whom are undocumented 
  • Afghan refugees in Iran face many hardships, including abuse by Iranian authorities 

KABUL: The Taliban administration has raised concerns with Tehran over difficulties faced by Afghan refugees in Iran, an official said on Sunday, as reports of mistreatment continue to emerge from the neighboring country.

Iran has for decades hosted millions of Afghans fleeing armed conflict in their country.

Nearly 600,000 Afghan passport holders live in Iran and about 780,000 are registered as refugees, according to 2022 data from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, while 2.1 million Afghans remain undocumented.

The number of Afghans crossing into their western neighbor has increased since 2021, when the Taliban took control of the country and international sanctions slapped on their administration shattered the economy. Many have since been forcibly expelled back to Afghanistan, and reports of their abuse at the hands of Iranian security forces have been on the rise.

This month, videos circulated on social media shed new light on the ordeal faced by Afghan refugees in Iran. At least one clip showed topless Afghan men chained together and kneeling on the sand, crying and pleading as they are whipped with a belt. Other footage has emerged since last year, with reports of abuse not only by the Iranian police but also by criminal gangs and human traffickers.

“There is no doubt that Afghans have faced a number of problems in neighboring Iran,” Abdul Mutalib Haqqani, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, told Arab News on Sunday.

“We have talked to Iranian officials…and shared such concerns and problems of Afghans with them,” Haqqani added. “One of the problems is that a big number of Afghans have been forcibly expelled from Iran.”

Iranian security forces have “unlawfully killed” at least 11 Afghans, according to a report by Amnesty International published last August, which also documented the forced returns and torture of Afghans.

Last April, viral footage showing the mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran prompted a wave of protests targeting Iranian diplomatic missions in Kabul and Herat.

Those reports, however, have not deterred Afghans from seeking a better life in Iran, said social activist Dr. Azad, who is based in the western province of Herat.

“About 80 percent of Herat residents have been living in poverty and economic problems,” he told Arab News. “Almost one member of each family from Herat province is traveling to neighboring Iran to find work until they can provide food for their family.

“Those who have passports and those without any documents have all had to face different problems with the Iranian authorities.”

But problems faced by Afghan refugees in Iran are multifaceted and do not always directly involve Iranian officials, said Attaullah Khogyani, an Afghan activist based in Tehran.

“Afghan refugees have a lot of problems in Iran. Sometimes they are arrested and beaten very badly, and after the arrest, they are forcibly expelled to Afghanistan,” Khogyani, whose work focuses on refugee rights, told Arab News in a phone interview.

“There are some groups who abduct Afghans and then ask them to pay money, taking away their passports and other legal documents too,” he added.

“Our neighbors are not treating us well at all and haven’t given us support or help,” he said. “Afghans are suffering a lot now.” 


First Palestinian American to win Illinois state seat sworn into office

Cook County commissioners Frank Aguilar and Donna Miller, State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid, and Samantha Steele. (AN photo)
Cook County commissioners Frank Aguilar and Donna Miller, State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid, and Samantha Steele. (AN photo)
Updated 29 January 2023

First Palestinian American to win Illinois state seat sworn into office

Cook County commissioners Frank Aguilar and Donna Miller, State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid, and Samantha Steele. (AN photo)
  • Abdelnasser Rashid seeks social, economic aid for all citizens
  • Vows to tackle Israeli military, US police brutality and killings

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Abdelnasser Rashid, the first Palestinian American to win a seat in the Illinois General Assembly, was sworn into office Saturday before a gathering of prominent state and local officials, and Arab American community leaders.

After taking the oath, Rashid demanded justice for “innocent victims of violence everywhere.” This includes Palestinian civilians being targeted by the Israeli military, and also African Americans like Tyre Nichols who died three days after being beaten by police during a routine traffic stop in Memphis on Jan. 7.

Rashid said the rights of Palestinians and African Americans were just as important as the issues that every US citizen faces including improved education for their children, more jobs, a stronger economy, and support for their families.

“I am honored to be the first Palestinian to be elected to the Illinois General Assembly along with my sister, Nabeela Syed. Let’s (give) her a round of applause,” said Rashid who represents the 21st State House District. Syed, a Muslim, was also elected with Rashid in the Nov. 4 General Election and represents the north suburban 51st State Legislative district.

“We recognize the high stakes of the moment that we are in. I had planned to give a celebratory speech that was focused almost exclusively on the progress we are making. But to be honest I couldn’t only speak about progress after seeing the video of Tyre Nichols being brutally murdered by five officers in Memphis Tennessee. A video that reminds us of just how much we still have to do. And videos from Gaza and the West Bank where Palestinians continue to suffer under brutal Israeli occupation.”

Rashid said these issues of African American and Palestinian rights were just as important as the nation’s broken healthcare system and the region’s housing crisis, and he demanded that “we build durable coalitions to fight for justice and equity” for everyone.

A Democrat, Rashid’s district includes parts of the state’s growing Palestinian American population based in the southwest suburbs of Chicago including in Bridgeview and Burbank.

Several prominent elected officials attended the swearing-in citing Rashid’s election as proof that the system can change and become more representative.

Among those speakers was US Senator Dick Durbin, who during his term in office hired several Palestinian and Arab American staff members, including Reema Dodin who served as his deputy chief of staff in Washington D.C.

Dodin was tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the highest-ranking position to be held by a Palestinian American. Dodin’s parents immigrated to America from Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Newly elected Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, whose former election campaign manager Palestinian American political consultant Hanah Jubeh is now the deputy secretary of state, praised Rashid as a symbol of the openness and inclusion that Illinois embraces.

“This community should be very, very proud of what Abdelnasser Rashid has accomplished ... the first Palestinian American and one of only two Muslims in the history of the General Assembly in the State of Illinois,” said Giannoulias, whose office is considered to be more powerful than that of the state governor.

“You represent the next generation, Abdelnasser. The people who came to this country with nothing. Who worked hard. Who were

discriminated against. Who made sacrifices and had challenges we couldn’t even fathom, are looking at you now as the reason why they came to this country and the reason why they made those sacrifices. They can point to you and say he is one of us. If he can do it, we can do it.”

Rashid defeated 14-year incumbent Democrat Michael Zalewski. Observers said Rashid’s success represents the growing influence of the Palestinian and Muslim American vote in the southwest suburbs of Chicagoland.


Trump kicks off White House campaign with events in New Hampshire, South Carolina

Trump kicks off White House campaign with events in New Hampshire, South Carolina
Updated 29 January 2023

Trump kicks off White House campaign with events in New Hampshire, South Carolina

Trump kicks off White House campaign with events in New Hampshire, South Carolina
  • Rob Godfrey, a Columbia-based political strategist, said many Republicans are holding off on a Trump endorsement because of the wide range of possible candidates who could run for the party's nomination

COLUMBIA, South Carolina: Former U.S. President Donald Trump hit the campaign trail on Saturday for the first time since announcing his bid to reclaim the White House in 2024, visiting two early-voting states and brushing aside criticism that his run was off to a slow start.
"I'm more angry now, and I'm more committed now, than I ever was," Trump, a Republican, told a small crowd at the New Hampshire Republican Party's annual meeting in Salem, before heading to Columbia, South Carolina, for an appearance alongside his leadership team in the state.
New Hampshire and South Carolina are among the first four states to hold presidential nominating contests, giving them outsized influence as candidates jockey for position.
In contrast to the raucous rallies in front of thousands of devotees that Trump often holds, Saturday's events were comparatively muted. In Columbia, Trump spoke to about 200 attendees, with Governor Henry McMaster and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina flanking him.
Once the undisputed center of gravity in the Republican Party, an increasing number of elected officials have expressed concerns about Trump's ability to beat Democratic President Joe Biden, if he decides to run again as is widely expected.
Numerous Republicans are considering whether to launch their own White House bids, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, widely seen as the biggest threat to Trump.
Several top Republicans in both states that Trump visited on Saturday - including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley - are weighing presidential campaigns. Many high-ranking Republicans in New Hampshire, where Trump's 2016 victory confirmed his status as a top contender, say they are looking for an alternative.
There were several conspicuous absences in South Carolina, including the state party chairman, several Republican U.S. representatives from the state and South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott, who has himself been floated as a potential Republican presidential candidate. Scott and others have cited scheduling conflicts.
Several Republican state lawmakers decided against attending after failing to gain assurances from Trump's team that doing so would not be considered an endorsement, according to a person with knowledge of the planning.
Rob Godfrey, a Columbia-based political strategist, said many Republicans are holding off on a Trump endorsement because of the wide range of possible candidates who could run for the party's nomination.
"I think there are a fair number of people that are keeping their powder dry because there's such a deep bench for Republicans this year," he said.
At both stops on Saturday, Trump echoed some of the themes that animated his first campaign, including railing against illegal immigration and China.
But he also emphasized social issues such as transgender rights and school curricula on race, perhaps in response to DeSantis, whose relentless focus on culture wars has helped build his national profile.
To be sure, Trump retains a significant base of support, particularly among the grassroots. While he loses in some head-to-head polls against DeSantis, he wins by significant margins when poll respondents are presented with a broader field of options.
Trump did not spent much time echoing his familiar grievances over the 2020 election, though he made allusions to his false claim that the election was stolen from him.
Since launching his campaign in November, Trump has maintained a relatively low profile. He called multiple conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives in early January to persuade them to vote for Kevin McCarthy, an ally, for the new Speaker.
Most brushed off his entreaties, though McCarthy was elected to the position after a bruising battle.