Zelensky: Iranian drones used in Russia’s attacks on Ukraine

Update Zelensky: Iranian drones used in Russia’s attacks on Ukraine
Photograph of smoke rising after an explosion in Kyiv, where several explosions had rocked the city early that day. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 October 2022

Zelensky: Iranian drones used in Russia’s attacks on Ukraine

Zelensky: Iranian drones used in Russia’s attacks on Ukraine
  • Zelensky on Facebook: We are dealing with terrorists. Dozens of missiles, Iranian ‘Shaheds’

KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Iranian-made drones and missiles were used by Russian forces on Monday in heavy shelling that targeted energy infrastructure across several cities this morning.

In a video message posted on his Facebook account, Zelensky said, “The morning is tough. We are dealing with terrorists. Dozens of missiles, Iranian “Shaheds”.

He accused Russia of targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during strikes, saying “they want panic and chaos, they want to destroy our energy system. They are incorrigible.”

He added, “The second target is people. Such a time and such goals were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible.”

Russia bombed cities across Ukraine during rush hour on Monday morning, killing civilians and destroying infrastructure in apparent revenge strikes after President Vladimir Putin declared an explosion on the bridge to Crimea to be a terrorist attack.
Missiles tore into Kyiv, the most intense strikes on the capital since Russia abandoned an attempt to captured it in the early weeks of the war. Explosions were also reported in Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in Ukraine’s west, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Kharkiv in the east. A witness in Russia’s Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border also heard a blast from the border area.
In Kyiv, attacks struck in the heart of the busy city center. The body of a man in jeans lay in a street at a major intersection, surrounded by flaming cars. In a park, a soldier cut through the clothes of a woman who lay in the grass to try to treat her wounds. Another woman was bleeding nearby.
City police said at least five people had been killed and 12 wounded.
A huge crater gaped next to a children’s playground in a central Kyiv park. The remains of an apparent missile were buried, smoking in the mud.
More volleys of missiles struck the capital again later in the morning. Pedestrians huddled for shelter at the entrance of Metro stations and inside parking garages.
“They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app. “The air raid sirens do not subside throughout Ukraine. There are missiles hitting. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded.”

The American Embassy in Kyiv issued a warning that urged citizens to find shelter amid the heavy Russian strikes, which  “pose a direct threat to civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

The embassy also urged US citizens to immediately depart Ukraine via privately available ground transportation options when it is safe enough.




Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Putin’s only tactic is terror on peaceful Ukrainian cities, but he will not break Ukraine down. This is also his response to all appeasers who want to talk with him about peace: Putin is a terrorist who talks with missiles.”
At one of Kyiv’s busiest road junctions, a massive crater had been blown in the intersection. Cars were destroyed, buildings were damaged and emergency workers were on the scene. Two cars and a van near the crater were completely wrecked, blacked and pitted from shrapnel.
Windows had been blown out of buildings at Kyiv’s main Taras Shevchenko University. National Guard troops in full combat gear and carrying assault rifles were lined up outside an education union building.
“The capital is under attack from Russian terrorists! The missiles hit objects in the city center (in the Shevchenkivskyi district) and in the Solomyanskyi district. The air raids sirens are going off, and therefore the threat, continues,” mayor Vitali Klitschko posted on social media.
“The central streets of Kyiv have been blocked by law enforcement officers, rescue services are working.”
He later said important infrastructure had been hit.
The strikes came two days after an explosion damaged the only bridge over the Kerch Strait to the Crimea peninsula, which Putin on Sunday called “an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure.”
“This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” he said in a video on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the blast on the bridge but has celebrated it. Senior Russian officials demanded a swift response from the Kremlin ahead of a meeting of Putin’s security council on Monday.


Commentators on Russian television have increasingly been calling for massive retaliation against Ukraine, with the military leadership facing public criticism for the first time as Russian forces have been beaten back on the battlefield.
The bridge, which Putin personally opened, is a major supply route for Russian forces in southern Ukraine and a symbol of Russia’s control of Crimea, the peninsula it proclaimed annexed after its troops seized it in 2014.
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said ahead of the council meeting that Russia should kill the “terrorists” responsible for the attack.
“Russia can only respond to this crime by directly killing terrorists, as is the custom elsewhere in the world. This is what Russian citizens expect,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency TASS.
Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, said on Sunday a vehicle had exploded on the bridge, having traveled through Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia and Russia’s Krasnodar region.
In southeastern Ukraine, Russian shelling overnight destroyed another apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said early on Monday. At least one person died and five were injured in the attack, a city official said.
The pre-dawn strikes were the third Russian missile attack against apartment buildings in four days in the city, the Ukrainian-held capital of one of four partially occupied regions Russia claims to have annexed this month.
Russia has faced major setbacks on the battlefield since the start of September, with Ukrainian forces bursting through the front lines and recapturing territory in the northeast and the south.
Putin responded to the losses by ordering a mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists, proclaiming the annexation of occupied territory and threatening repeatedly to use nuclear weapons.

UK to house hundreds more migrants on barges, Sunak says

UK to house hundreds more migrants on barges, Sunak says
Updated 14 sec ago

UK to house hundreds more migrants on barges, Sunak says

UK to house hundreds more migrants on barges, Sunak says
LONDON: The UK government will house hundreds more asylum-seekers on barges, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Monday, as he unveiled the latest migration figures that he said showed that his plans to crack down on small boat crossings on the English Channel are working.
Two more barges will house about 1,000 migrants, Sunak said, alongside one that’s set to be docked in Portland in southern England within the next two weeks. The move is meant to help save millions in taxpayers’ money currently spent to house asylum-seekers in hotels across the country.
Sunak told reporters that compared to the same time last year, the number of people making the dangerous sea crossing on small vessels from northern France to the southern English coast so far this year has decreased by a fifth. He suggested that the UK was doing better than other countries in Europe, where he said unauthorized migrant crossings have increased by a third over the same period.
Figures from the Home Office show that about 7,600 people were detected crossing the English Channel so far this year, compared with almost 10,000 last June. However, it is difficult to tell whether the decrease was linked to Sunak’s government’s policies or other factors such as weather conditions. The summer months typically see much higher numbers making the journey.
Sunak also said that the number of Albanian migrants arriving by small boats has fallen by almost 90 percent, and that a deal with Albania has seen 1,800 asylum-seekers turned back.
Many of the asylum-seekers arriving in the UK each year hail from conflict zones, including Afghanistan and Syria, though a large number come from Albania, which Sunak’s government describes as a “safe” country.
Sunak has made “Stop the Boats” his flagship policy since he took office in October. His government is pushing through a controversial migration bill that seeks to dramatically curb migrants’ ability to seek asylum in the UK Critics, including the UN refugee agency, have decried it as unethical and unworkable, and some say it breaks international law.

Afghan personnel hunted by Taliban denied UK sanctuary

Afghan personnel hunted by Taliban denied UK sanctuary
Updated 10 min 41 sec ago

Afghan personnel hunted by Taliban denied UK sanctuary

Afghan personnel hunted by Taliban denied UK sanctuary
  • Mechanics, chefs and laborers rejected by resettlement scheme for failing frontline role criteria
  • ‘We are all the same in the Taliban’s eyes,’ says former interpreter

LONDON: Afghans who worked for the UK military and who are at risk of Taliban reprisal attacks are being refused sanctuary in the UK, The Independent reported.

The revelations are part of an investigation by the newspaper into Britain’s relocation policies regarding Afghan military personnel who aided UK forces.

The Independent’s latest report found that former mechanics, laborers and chefs are being rejected by the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme because they fail to classify as having served in frontline roles alongside British troops. 
But that distinction is not recognized by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, with the former staff and contractors facing revenge attacks as a result of their work for British forces.
Tobias Ellwood MP, chair of the defense select committee, warned that the Taliban were still hunting Afghan workers who aided Western forces.
He said: “I don’t believe the Taliban share the same criteria. They gained access to databases of all local Afghans who were assisting ISAF forces and local Taliban continue to hunt them down for execution. Each case should be judged on its own merit.”
Some of the Afghans who aided the UK war effort and who fled to the UK in the wake of the Taliban takeover have appealed to the government to help their former colleagues still trapped in Afghanistan.
But Armed Forces Minister James Heappey has said that the government has no intention of expanding the ARAP criteria to include former non-frontline staff and contractors.
An Afghan mechanic who repaired troop carriers and armored vehicles during the conflict was rejected by the scheme last year, but is now appealing the decision through a judicial review.
He was left jobless when British troops pulled out of the country, and later worked for NGOs and as a contractor for private military forces.
But following the Taliban takeover, the man was forced into hiding, with his former colleagues demanding that the UK grant him sanctuary through the ARAP scheme.
A former British Army adviser and colleague of the mechanic told The Independent: “We are trying to do our best for him and his family but he is in a very bad situation. A lot of people are being disappeared and he is all the time hiding himself because many people know that he worked with the British Army.
“Lots of people in the same situation applied for ARAP. I don’t know why ARAP just rejected his case.”
The mechanic’s solicitor, Stephanie Alban, who is challenging the decision, said: “His life is in danger so I thought they would deal with it in days and not weeks. He is in hiding and he has been moving to avoid the Taliban.
“People in the local area would know that he worked for the British. He’s on their record so they will be looking for him and targeting him. It feels like these employees have just been forgotten. You shouldn’t have to do judicial reviews just to get a simple decision on a straightforward case.”
Other Afghan personnel denied by the ARAP scheme have said that they were still exposed to danger and risk despite not serving in frontline combat roles.
A former guard who protected a British Army camp said that he was fired at during a terrorist attack on the base, but was still rejected by the UK on account of his guard role.
Since the Western withdrawal, he has received threats from the Taliban as well as Daesh, which has a small presence in Afghanistan.
As a result, the former guard has moved his family to new homes around the country to avoid reprisal attacks.
In a review into his ARAP application, the man said: “Security at the camp was vital in order to ensure the safety of the British and other NATO soldiers in the camp.
“As such, the camp and the military operations carried out from the camp could not have functioned without the presence of security guards like myself.”
The Independent also spoke to relatives of personnel who have been rejected by ARAP, including former British Army chefs and laborers.
One interpreter said that his brother, a former laborer, had gone into hiding to avoid the Taliban after the Western withdrawal.
“He is in the same risk as me. It is not written on his face that he was a laborer and not an interpreter. We were all working with the British Army and we were all the same in the Taliban’s eyes.
“They have already killed one of our other brothers in front of our family home in 2020. He was working to help the American and British troops and they encountered him and shot him.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those interpreters and other staff eligible under the ARAP scheme who worked for, or with, UK forces in Afghanistan in exposed roles.
“Our absolute priority is supporting the movement of eligible people out of Afghanistan and, to date, we have relocated over 12,200 individuals to the UK under ARAP.

Sixty Afghan girls hospitalized after school poisoning

Sixty Afghan girls hospitalized after school poisoning
Updated 27 min 30 sec ago

Sixty Afghan girls hospitalized after school poisoning

Sixty Afghan girls hospitalized after school poisoning
  • The poisoning comes after intense scrutiny of girls’ education in the war-torn nation since the Taliban took over

KABUL: Around 60 Afghan girls were hospitalized after being poisoned at their school in northern Afghanistan, police said on Monday.
The poisoning, which targeted a girls’ school in the Afghan province of Sar-e Pol, comes after intense scrutiny of girls’ education in the war-torn nation since the Taliban took over and barred most teenage female students and after a wave of poison attacks on girls’ schools in neighboring Iran.
“Some unknown people entered a girls’ ... school in Sancharak District .. and poisoned the classes, when the girls come to classes they got poisoned,” said Den Mohammad Nazari, Sar-e-Pol’s police spokesperson, without elaborating on which substance was used or who was thought to be behind the incident.
Nazari said the girls had been taken to ho.spital but were in “good condition.” No one had been arrested.
In neighboring Iran, poisoning incidents at girls’ schools sickened an estimated 13,000 mostly female students since November.
During Afghanistan’s previous foreign-backed government, several poisoning attacks, including suspected gas attacks, on girls’ schools had taken place.
The Taliban administration has prevented most female students from attending highschool and university since taking over in 2021, sparking condemnation from international governments and many Afghans. Taliban authorities have kept primary schools open for girls, up until the age of around 12 and say they are in favor of female education under certain conditions.

Fighter jets chase small plane in Washington area before it crashes in Virginia

Fighter jets chase small plane in Washington area before it crashes in Virginia
After several hours first responders found no one alive the Virginia State Police said in a statement. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2023

Fighter jets chase small plane in Washington area before it crashes in Virginia

Fighter jets chase small plane in Washington area before it crashes in Virginia
  • The jet fighters created a sonic boom over the US capital as they pursued the errant Cessna Citation

WASHINGTON: The United States scrambled F-16 fighter jets in a supersonic chase of a light aircraft with an unresponsive pilot that violated airspace around Washington DC and later crashed into the mountains of Virginia, officials said.

No survivors were found at the crash site, Virginia state police said.

The jet fighters created a sonic boom over the US capital as they pursued the errant Cessna Citation, officials said, causing consternation among people in the Washington area.

Four people were onboard the Cessna, a source familiar with the matter said. A Cessna Citation can carry seven to 12 passengers.

After several hours first responders reached the crash site but found no one alive, the Virginia State Police said in a statement.

The Cessna was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, Florida, according to the flight-tracking website Flight Aware.

Encore owner John Rumpel told the Washington Post his daughter, a grandchild and her nanny were on board.

“We know nothing about the crash,” the Post quoted Rumpel as saying. “We are talking to the FAA now,” he added before ending the call.

The US military attempted to contact the pilot, who was unresponsive, until the Cessna crashed near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a statement.

The Cessna appeared to be flying on autopilot, another source familiar the matter said.

“The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region,” the statement said, adding that NORAD aircraft also used flares to the pilot’s attention.

A US official said the fighters did not cause the crash.

The Cessna took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York, about 80 km east of Manhattan, the FAA said in a statement, adding that it and the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate.

According to Flight Aware, the plane appeared to reach the New York area, then made nearly a 180-degree turn.

Incidents involving unresponsive pilots are not unprecedented. Golfer Payne Stewart died in 1999 along with four others after the aircraft he was in flew thousands of miles with the pilot and passengers unresponsive. The plane eventually crashed in South Dakota with no survivors.

In the case of Stewart’s flight, the plane lost cabin pressure, causing the occupants to lose consciousness because of oxygen deprivation.

Similarly, a small US private plane with an unresponsive pilot crashed off the east coast of Jamaica in 2014 after veering far off course and triggering a US security alert including a fighter jet escort.

On Sunday, the sonic boom rattled many people in the Washington area who took to Twitter to report hearing a loud noise that shook the ground and walls. Several residents said they heard the noise as far away as northern Virginia and Maryland.

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’
Updated 59 min 40 sec ago

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’
  • The encounter comes as both countries trade blame for not holding military talks

BEIJING: The maneuver of a Chinese warship in the Taiwan Strait during an encounter with a US destroyer was completely reasonable, legal, professional and “safe,” a spokesperson at China’s foreign ministry said at a press conference on Monday.
The US Navy on Sunday released a video of what it called an “unsafe interaction” in the Taiwan Strait, in which a Chinese warship crossed in front of a US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday.
The encounter comes as both countries trade blame for not holding military talks — with disagreements between the two over everything from trade and Taiwan to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and raises the spectre of future face-offs that could spiral out of control.
The US military said the USS Chung-Hoon, a destroyer, and Canada’s HSMC Montreal, a frigate, were conducting a “routine” transit of the strait on Saturday when the Chinese ship cut in front of the US vessel, coming within 150 yards (137 meters).
In the video, released by the US Navy late on Sunday, a Chinese warship can clearly be seen sailing across the path of the Chung-Hoon in calm waters. The Chung-Hoon does not change course.
A voice can be heard in English, apparently sending a radio message to the Chinese ship, warning against “attempts to limit freedom of navigation,” though the exact wording is unclear because of wind noise.

“The measures taken by the Chinese military are completely reasonable, legitimate, and professional and safe,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry.
“The US had caused trouble and provocation first, while China dealt with it in accordance with the law and regulations afterwards,” Wang told a regular press conference on Monday when asked about the video released by the US Navy.
On Saturday night, China’s military rebuked the United States and Canada for “deliberately provoking risk” with the rare joint sailing.
Chinese military commentator Song Zhongping told Reuters that this “point blank interception” was a demonstration of both the capabilities and “courage” of China’s navy.
“The more intensified the provocation from the United States, the stronger the countermeasures from China,” Song said.
It was the second such encounter in recent days.
On May 26, a Chinese fighter jet carried out an “unnecessarily aggressive” maneuver near a US military plane over the South China Sea in international airspace, according to the United States.
“It seems to me that Beijing has instructed its forces to respond more assertively against what it believes are encroaching US and allied forces,” said Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, a US think tank.
“By doing so, China is only increasing the chances for miscalculation — namely ships or aircraft accidentally colliding — that could then spiral into armed conflict,” he added.
In 2001, a US spy plane made an emergency landing on China’s Hainan island after a collision with a Chinese fighter jet, whose pilot died.
Taiwan’s defense ministry on Sunday called China’s actions with the US and Canadian ships “provocation” and said it was the common responsibility of free and democratic countries to maintain peace and stability in the strait.
“Any actions to increase tension and danger will not contribute to regional security,” it said in a statement.
The ministry called on China to respect the right to freedom of navigation.
China views Taiwan as its own territory, a claim the government in Taipei strongly rejects.
Beijing has been stepping up military and political pressure to try to force Taiwan to accept its sovereignty, including staging regular maneuvers near the island.