Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, September 11, 2022. (Reuters)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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Members of the Public pay their respects as the hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is driven through Ballater, on September 11, 2022. (AFP)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth passes through the village of Ballater, near Balmoral, Scotland, Britain, September 11, 2022. (Reuters)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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Flowers and pictures of the late Queen Elizabeth II are placed outside of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on September 11, 2022. (AFP)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth departs Balmoral Castle, in Balmoral, Scotland, Britain September 11, 2022. (Reuters)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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The Queens cortege with the hearse containing her coffin passes the St. Giles Cathedral as it makes its way down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (AP)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
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Updated 11 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh as mourners line streets
  • The queen’s coffin will take a circuitous journey back to London
  • On Monday, it will be taken from Holyroodhouse to nearby St. Giles’ Cathedral, where it will remain until Tuesday, when it will be flown to London

EDINBURGH: Queen Elizabeth’s coffin arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday after a six-hour journey from her summer home in the Scottish Highlands, past tens of thousands of mourners lining the route, many in somber silence, some applauding and others in tears.
Shortly after 10 a.m. (0900 GMT), a hearse carrying Elizabeth’s oak coffin emerged from the gates of Balmoral Castle, where she died on Thursday aged 96, at the start of a slow drive to the Scottish capital.
The coffin was draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath on top made of flowers taken from the Balmoral estate including sweet peas, one of Elizabeth’s favorites.




Members of the public watch the hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, as it is driven through Edinburgh towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse, on September 11, 2022. (AFP)


Crowds, fifteen deep in places, massed in the center of Edinburgh to greet the cortege, which included the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, as it made it way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where it was met by a military guard of honor.
Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland then carried the coffin to the throne room of the palace where it will remain overnight.
“There was no way I could miss this. I would regret it for the rest of my life,” said Eilidh Mackintosh, 62, who left her home at 6 a.m. to be sure of a good view on Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile where large crowds were gathering.
“She never let us down and I didn’t want to let her down either. Now she has gone there is a big hole in the heart of the nation.”
The journey from Balmoral was the first of a series of events leading up to the state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on Sept. 19.
In an emotional tribute to his mother on Friday, the new monarch, King Charles, said she had begun a “last great journey” to join Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years who died last year.
Her death has drawn tears, sadness and warm tributes, not just from the queen’s own close family and many in Britain, but also from around the globe — reflecting her presence on the world stage for seven decades.
Wherever the cortege went as it wound its way through picturesque countryside, villages, small towns and cities, people lined the road or stopped their cars to get out and watch. At one point, it passed a guard of honor formed by dozens of tractors lined up in adjacent fields by farmers.




The Queens cortege with the hearse containing her coffin passes the St. Giles Cathedral as it makes its way down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (AP)


Many watched silently in bright sunshine. Some threw flowers into the road. For others, the emotion of the moment moved them to tears. “It’s just very, very sad. I’m happy I was here to say our goodbyes,” said Elizabeth Alexander, 69, who was born on the day the queen was crowned in 1953.
Many thousands are continuing to gather at other royal palaces across Britain, and large piles of flowers are massing as people visit to pay their respects.
Charles became king immediately after his mother’s death and was officially proclaimed the new monarch at a ceremony on Saturday, full of pageantry and centuries-old traditions.
Similar proclamations are following across the United Kingdom and the other 14 realms of which Charles is now head of state, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.




Pedestrians walks past a portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on a street in London on September 11, 2022. (AFP)


Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said parliament would be recalled on Thursday to allow members to pay tribute.
The queen came to the throne following the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, when she was just 25. Her coronation took place a year later.
While Elizabeth’s death was not totally unexpected given her age and deteriorating health, there was still a sense of shock at the news.
“We all thought she was invincible,” her grandson Prince William, now the heir to the throne, told a well-wisher on Saturday as he met crowds at Windsor castle.




Flowers and pictures of the late Queen Elizabeth II are placed outside of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on September 11, 2022. (AFP)

The day of Elizabeth’s funeral will be a public holiday in Britain, officials have announced. US President Joe Biden said he would be there, although full details of the event and the attendees have not yet been released.
Before that, her coffin will be flown to London and there will be a somber procession when it is later moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where it will lie in state for four days.
“It goes without saying that we can expect large numbers of people,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Liz Truss told reporters.




The hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II passes along Canongate towards the Royal Mile as it completes its journey from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. (AFP)


Truss, whose appointment as prime minister on Tuesday was the queen’s last public act, will join King Charles as both the new head of state and prime minister tour the four nations of the United Kingdom in the next few days.
Charles, 73, is now the 41st monarch in a line that traces its origins to the Norman King William the Conqueror who captured the English throne in 1066.
Elizabeth’s death has capped a difficult couple of years for the royal family.
The most high-profile issue has involved her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who stepped down from royal life in 2020 to move to California from where they both have heavily criticized the institution.
That has left them alienated from the rest of the family, with Harry and his older brother William said to be barely on speaking terms. But the death of their grandmother has seen differences put aside, as they appeared together with their wives outside Windsor Castle to meet the crowds on Saturday.
A royal source described it as an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family.


Along Ukraine-Belarus border, a war of nerves — and drones

Along Ukraine-Belarus border, a war of nerves — and drones
Updated 8 sec ago

Along Ukraine-Belarus border, a war of nerves — and drones

Along Ukraine-Belarus border, a war of nerves — and drones
BELARUS BORDER, Ukraine: The reconnaissance drones fly several times a day from Ukrainian positions deep inside the thick forest that marches across the border into Belarus, a close Russian ally, scouring sky and land for signs of trouble on the other side.
Ukrainian units are monitoring the 1,000-kilometer (650-mile) frontier of marsh and woodland for a possible surprise offensive from the north, a repeat of the unsuccessful Russian thrust toward Kyiv at the start of the war nearly a year ago.
This time the Ukrainians are taking no chances. Since the summer they have been reinforcing defenses, building and expanding trenches and laying mines in the forest ahead of the springtime offensive military officials expect. Residents of villages in the region that were temporarily occupied last year are horrified by the prospect of it all starting again.
“We’re listening out for every small sound and noise. This isn’t a way to live,” said Valentina Matveva, 64, from the village of Ripke. “When you’re in constant fear, that’s not life.”
Concerns of a renewed military push were stirred in January after Russia and Belarus held joint air force drills, one month after a rare visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Minsk.
Military experts and Western intelligence have played down the possibility of a renewed northern offensive. The British Defense Ministry tweeted on Jan. 11 that Russian aircraft and existing Russian troops in Belarus, though numerous, are “unlikely to constitute a credible offensive force.”
Belarusian officials attribute the troop deployment along the border to “strategic deterrence” according to local reports. The country’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has insisted he will not send troops to Ukraine.
But Ukrainian commanders are wary, remembering how Russia used Belarus as a launching pad in early 2022.
“We continuously monitor the enemy from the ground and observe the movement of troops, if they are moving, how many troops, and where they are moving,” the area’s army intelligence unit head said during a press tour this week a few kilometers from the border. The officer only identified himself by his first name, Oleksandr, citing security reasons.
Unlike the east with its devastating artillery duels, here in the north it’s largely a war of quadcopters.
Oleksandr said the Belarusians and Russians are “constantly monitoring our guard changes, trying to find our military’s positions.”
At times, Oleksandr’s unit detects enemy reconnaissance drones and shoots them down using anti-drone rifles. Or an enemy drone detects a Ukrainian one and tails it, at which point the Ukrainians try to capture and add it to their stock.
“We got four of their drones this way recently, and they took two of ours,” Oleksandr said.
He says the reconnaissance missions have revealed no sign of worrying activity — yet. “They have a reinforcement section, and the patrol has been strengthened, but we do not observe a significant accumulation of troops from our section,” he said.
Ukraine’s Lt. Gen. Oleksii Pavlyuk, who is responsible for Kyiv province, was quoted in local reports as saying his country was preparing for a possible fresh attack through Belarus. “We’ve created a group on the border with Belarus, which is ready to meet the enemy with dignity,” he was quoted as saying.
Ukrainian officials argue that no one can know how Moscow will move in the coming months, and that a state of alert is necessary along the border.
“The (fortifications) were made to prevent re-infiltration,” said Oleksandr, “Whether it will happen or not, we must always be ready.”
Ukrainian soldiers armed with machine guns stand in five-foot-deep trenches dug into the forest floor and reinforced with planks.
A local villager briskly cycles past. Memories here are still fresh from the temporary occupation when Russian troops attempted to lay siege to the main city of Chernihiv. They withdrew on April 3 as Moscow switched its focus to Ukraine’s eastern provinces.
But despite the Russian-Belarusian drills, there’s also hope.
“The first time they invaded, we didn’t have the weapons and the army (at the border),” said Hanna Pokheelko, 66, from the village of Koluchivka. “But this time we do.”
Attack or no attack, Olena, from the village of Novi Yarylovychi, fears the border situation means she may never see her mother, brother and two sisters living just 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away in a village inside Belarus.
“I can’t believe they are so close and I can’t see them,” said the 63-year old, who is a Belarusian by birth but married into a Ukrainian family and who didn’t give her full name out of concerns for her family.

IMF giving Pakistan tough time in ‘unimaginable’ economic crisis — PM

IMF giving Pakistan tough time in ‘unimaginable’ economic crisis — PM
Updated 41 min 1 sec ago

IMF giving Pakistan tough time in ‘unimaginable’ economic crisis — PM

IMF giving Pakistan tough time in ‘unimaginable’ economic crisis — PM
  • Local currency at record low after being in free fall
  • Foreign reserves down less than three weeks import cover

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday the International Monetary Fund was giving his country a tough time over unlocking stalled funding from a $6.5 billion bailout, at a time of “unimaginable” economic crisis.
Hours after his remarks, the Pakistani rupee hit a record low against the US dollar in a steep slide since last week.
Sharif made the comments in a meeting of civil and military leaders in the northwestern city of Peshawar he chaired to prepare a response to Monday’s mosque bombing that killed more than 100 people.
“Our economic situation is unimaginable,” the premier said. “As you know, the IMF mission is in Pakistan, and that’s giving us a tough time,” he said.
“You all know we are running short of resources,” Sharif said, adding Pakistan “at present was facing an economic crisis.”
IMF’s Pakistan representative did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
Sharif made the remarks in the context of funds the country might need for any military or counter-terrorism response to the resurgent Islamist militancy.
FREE FALL
The IMF mission is visiting Pakistan to discuss fiscal consolidation measures the institution needs from Pakistan to clear a 9th review of its Extended Fund Facility, aimed at helping countries facing balance-of-payments crises.
Pakistan’s central bank reserves at present stand at $3.09 billion, the lowest since 1998 and not enough to cover the cost of three weeks of imports.
The IMF’s demands aimed at controlling the country’s budget deficit have led to Pakistan leaving its currency to market based exchange rates and hiking fuel prices.
The Pakistani rupee fell by 1.9 percent to a record low of 276.58 per dollar in the inter-bank market on Friday, according to the central bank.
The local currency has dropped 16.5 percent since the artificial cap was removed last week to leave the rupee’s value to be decided by a market-based exchange rate regime.
The rupee also shed 2.65 percent against the US dollar on the open market, according to the association of exchange companies.
Islamabad is in a $6.5 billion IMF program.
An IMF delegation is in Pakistan to restart talks stalled since November for $2.5 billion funds yet to be disbursed.
Still, despite the economic situation, Sharif said his country will do whatever possible to fight militancy.
“We will use all resources in our capacity to fight this menace,” he said.

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Man detained on French high-speed TGV after attack threat

Man detained on French high-speed TGV after attack threat
Updated 03 February 2023

Man detained on French high-speed TGV after attack threat

Man detained on French high-speed TGV after attack threat
  • The individual’s mental health was being investigated

BRUSSELS: A man was arrested after threatening to commit an attack while traveling on a high-speed TGV train in eastern France on Friday.
Police sources said the individual threatened to blow up himself or the train. There was no immediate suspicion that terrorism was a motive and the individual’s mental health was being investigated, they added.
“This morning, a police officer ... arrested a threatening individual on board a TGV in Moselle. Kudos to him!” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter.
The officer was off duty at the time, the police sources said. Off-duty policeman are allowed in France to carry a firearm on trains as part of a “traveling to protect” government scheme.


21 dead in attack in South Sudan on eve of Pope’s visit

21 dead in attack in South Sudan on eve of Pope’s visit
Updated 03 February 2023

21 dead in attack in South Sudan on eve of Pope’s visit

21 dead in attack in South Sudan on eve of Pope’s visit
JUBA: At least 21 people have been killed in a cattle raid in South Sudan on the eve of a visit by Pope Francis to encourage peace in the conflict-ridden country, local authorities said.
Francis is scheduled to arrive on Friday for a three-day “pilgrimage of peace” with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The church leaders are seeking to promote reconciliation and forgiveness in a predominantly Christian country still burdened by chronic armed violence in the aftermath of a civil war.
On Thursday, armed herders killed 21 civilians in a reprisal attack on a rival cattle camp in Kajo-Keji County of Central Equatoria, the county commissioner’s office said.
“The commissioner of Kajo-Keji County condemns in the strongest terms possible the attack on the cattle camp and the massacre of the innocent civilians in the barbaric act of revenge,” its statement issued on Thursday said.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was “horrified” by the attack on the eve of his visit.
“It is a story too often heard across South Sudan. I again appeal for a different way: for South Sudan to come together for a just peace,” he posted on Twitter on Thursday.
South Sudan achieved independence from Muslim-majority Sudan in 2011 but soon after plunged into civil war that left 380,000 people dead.
The war formally ended in 2018 but the nation remains plagued by violence waged by well-armed local militias and rival ethnic groups.
This week, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United States and other foreign missions raised concerns over signs that armed factions were preparing to fight again in Upper Nile.
The state in the country’s north has witnessed some of the most ferocious armed violence in South Sudan in recent months, with thousands of civilians seeking protection on UN bases.
“With the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland to South Sudan expected to take place this week, UNMISS appeals to national and community leaders to exercise restraint and commit to peace and dialogue,” it said in a statement.

After Netanyahu talks, Macron warns of Iran nuclear ‘consequences’

After Netanyahu talks, Macron warns of Iran nuclear ‘consequences’
Updated 03 February 2023

After Netanyahu talks, Macron warns of Iran nuclear ‘consequences’

After Netanyahu talks, Macron warns of Iran nuclear ‘consequences’
  • Macron warned that Tehran continuing with the atomic project “would inevitably have consequences”

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday denounced the “headlong rush” of Iran’s nuclear program after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Paris to seek a stronger European stance against Tehran.
In a statement released after a dinner meeting in the Elysee Palace, Macron warned that Tehran continuing with the atomic project “would inevitably have consequences.”
Both leaders discussed ways to counter “the Iranian nuclear threat” and Netanyahu stressed the need for more “deterrence against Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” the Israeli embassy said.
Israel has long accused Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon but Tehran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at generating energy.
Netanyahu hopes Iran’s role in supplying drones to Russian invaders in Ukraine, as well as its crackdown on protests at home, will prompt Western allies to drop any bid to revive a 2015 atomic program deal.
The prime minister has also said Israel is considering sending military aid to Ukraine, apparently dropping its more neutral stance over the conflict in the hope of securing a more confrontational Western position toward Tehran.
By “playing the Ukraine card,” Netanyahu hopes to “consolidate an anti-Iranian front” with the West, said David Khalfa at the Fondation Jean Jaures, a Paris-based think tank.
He hopes for “increased sanctions against Iran and the full addition of the Revolutionary Guards to the list” of sanctioned entities, a step France and Germany have so far resisted, Khalfa added.
During his meeting with Macron, Netanyahu urged “substantial sanctions to be imposed on the Iran regime and called for the Revolutionary Guards to be added to the European Union’s terror list,” the Israeli embassy said.
France agrees that “firmness” is needed in dealings with Iran, a diplomatic source told AFP earlier, saying the nuclear program had reached “a dangerous point” and highlighting Tehran’s role in the Ukraine war.
Siding with Ukraine is not without risk for Netanyahu, as Russian air defenses in neighboring Syria could be turned against Israeli aircraft during their occasional raids on Iranian interests there.
Iran also holds several foreign citizens who are considered political hostages by Western governments.
Netanyahu’s visit came after a weekend drone attack on a defense ministry facility in the Iranian city of Isfahan, which Tehran has blamed on Israel.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed officials, have said the attack was carried out by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, though this has not been confirmed by Israel.
Netanyahu’s visit came as violence intensified between Israelis and Palestinians with Israeli war planes striking the Gaza Strip early Thursday, drawing Palestinian rocket fire in retaliation.
Last Friday, a Palestinian gunman shot dead seven people outside a synagogue in an Israeli settler neighborhood of annexed east Jerusalem.
It was the deadliest attack targeting Israeli civilians in more than a decade, and came one day after an Israeli raid in the West Bank killed 10 Palestinians.
Macron on Thursday reiterated “the importance of avoiding any measure that could feed the cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians, while offering “France’s complete solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism, the French presidency said.
Staying in France until Saturday, Netanyahu is also set to meet French business chiefs and leaders of the country’s Jewish community, the Israeli embassy said.
Judicial reforms planned by the prime minister’s latest coalition of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties have raised the hackles of some business executives, notably in the financial sector, who have threatened to quit Israel.