At least 22 killed, dozens wounded in Maine shootings: NBC

At least 22 killed, dozens wounded in Maine shootings: NBC
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Police respond to an active shooter situation in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (AP)
At least 22 killed, dozens wounded in Maine shootings: NBC
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In this image taken from video released by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, an unidentified shooter points a gun while entering Sparetime Recreation in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 26 October 2023
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At least 22 killed, dozens wounded in Maine shootings: NBC

At least 22 killed, dozens wounded in Maine shootings: NBC
  • Lewiston Police Department on Facebook identified a person of interest in the shootings as Robert Card, 40
  • Said he should be ‘considered armed and dangerous’

At least 22 people were killed and 50 to 60 wounded on Wednesday in mass shootings at multiple locations including a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, Maine, NBC News reported, citing a Lewiston police source.

The Lewiston Police Department on Facebook identified a person of interest in the mass shooting at the bar and bowling alley as Robert Card, 40, saying he should be “considered armed and dangerous.”

Police earlier posted three photographs of an unidentified suspect pointing what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle, in addition to a picture of a white SUV, asking the public for help in identifying either.

The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office also posted pictures of the suspect, a bearded man in a brown hoodie jacket and jeans holding a rifle in the firing position.

“There is an active shooter in Lewiston,” Maine state police said previously on the social media platform X. “We ask people to shelter in place. Please stay inside your home with the doors locked. Law enforcement is currently investigating at multiple locations.”

The Sun Journal, citing a Lewiston police spokesperson, reported shootings at three separate businesses: the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley, Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, and a Walmart distribution center.

The bowling alley is about four miles (6.5 km) north of the bar, and the distribution center is about a mile and a half (2.5 km) south of the bar.

The Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston issued a statement saying it was “reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event” and coordinating with area hospitals to take patients.

Lewiston is part of and about 35 miles (56 km) north of Maine’s largest city, Portland.

Lewiston, a former textile hub and town of 38,000 people in Androscoggin County, is located in southern Maine about midway between the state capital, Augusta, and Portland, the state’s most populous city

President Joe Biden has been briefed and will continue to receive updates, a US official said in Washington.

The president spoke by phone individually to Maine Governor Janet Mills, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and Congressman Jared Golden about the shooting in Lewiston and offered full federal support in the wake of the attack, the White House said.

If the death toll of 22 is confirmed, the massacre would be the deadliest in the United States since at least August 2019, when a gunman opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart with an AK-47 rifle, killing 23 in a shooting that prosecutors branded an anti-Hispanic hate crime, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The 22 fatalities would also be on par with the number of homicides that normally occur in Maine in any given year. The number of annual homicides in the state has fluctuated between 16 and 29 since 2012, according to Maine State Police.

The number of US shootings in which four or more people were shot has surged since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, with 647 occurring in 2022 and 679 projected to occur in 2023, based on trends as of July, according to data from the archive.

The deadliest US mass shooting on record is the massacre of 58 people by a gunman firing on a Las Vegas country music festival from a high-rise hotel perch in 2017. 


UK PM’s absence marks significant turnout dip at Downing Street’s Eid celebration

UK PM’s absence marks significant turnout dip at Downing Street’s Eid celebration
Updated 6 sec ago
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UK PM’s absence marks significant turnout dip at Downing Street’s Eid celebration

UK PM’s absence marks significant turnout dip at Downing Street’s Eid celebration
  • Foreign Secretary David Cameron had earlier encouraged people to attend

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was notably absent from an annual Eid party held at Downing Street on Monday, which saw a turnout significantly smaller than usual, the BBC reported.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron had earlier publicly encouraged people to attend after some threatened to boycott the celebration in protest at the government’s support for Israel.

The gathering, reportedly about half its typical size with roughly 50 attendees, saw the absence of major Muslim charities and influential business figures.

Most notably absent were several high-profile guests, including Baroness Warsi, Britain’s first female Muslim Cabinet minister, who is known for her vocal criticism of the situation in Gaza.

Of those present, many displayed symbols of solidarity with Palestine, such as small badges featuring the Palestinian flag or wristbands featuring the keffiyeh pattern.

Attendees expressed mixed feelings about their decision to participate, with some deliberating over ethical considerations and consulting with family before attending.

One woman told the BBC that she did not want to miss the opportunity of being invited to Downing Street for the first time, but that Israel’s war in Gaza “has not been forgotten.”

Another stated that he had attended the event for years and “thought about it; thought what it was about. And what I thought was that Downing Street is marking Eid, and it is a celebration I believe in.”

He added to the BBC: “So I came. I understand why so many boycotted, but for me the right thing was to come.”

Those who attended were “surprised” that Sunak did not attend. The event is held annually, and the prime minister has always hosted it.

Sunak said on Sunday that he was “looking forward” to meeting those invited, who were selected from prominent Muslims in charity, business and politics.

Guests were this year received by Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden.

The prime minister’s office told the BBC that Sunak “had business in parliament” and could not host nor attend the party.

Guests leaving the event reported seeing “no MPs.”

One told the BBC: “I saw parliamentary candidates, but no MPs. They may have been there but I didn't see them.”

The absences were believed to be the first significant boycott of a Downing Street event.

American Muslims boycotted an annual iftar at the White House earlier this month, citing the support of the US for Israel.


Japan resumes funding for UNRWA with $35m donation

Japan resumes funding for UNRWA with $35m donation
Updated 15 April 2024
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Japan resumes funding for UNRWA with $35m donation

Japan resumes funding for UNRWA with $35m donation
  • Japanese authorities put funding for UNRWA on hold after Israel alleged 12 of its workers participated in Oct. 7 attacks
  • Money will be used to provide vital supplies for women, babies in Gaza, and medical services in the West Bank

LONDON: The Japanese government on Monday said it had resumed its funding of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and sent a donation of about $35 million to the organization.

The money will be used to provide vital supplies for women and babies in the Gaza Strip, and medical services in the West Bank, the Jiji Press news agency reported.

Japanese authorities suspended their funding for UNRWA after Israeli officials in January alleged that 12 people working for the agency, out of a total of 30,000, had played a part in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

Japan, the sixth-biggest single donor to the agency, and 15 other countries put about $450 million of funding on hold in response to the allegation, throwing the agency’s operations in the war-torn Gaza Strip into turmoil. The Japanese government had announced on April 2 that it was lifting the suspension.

Some other countries that suspended payments to UNRWA in the immediate aftermath of the allegation have similarly resumed funding, including Australia and Canada.
 


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic into Chicago airport, causing headaches for travelers

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic into Chicago airport, causing headaches for travelers
Updated 15 April 2024
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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic into Chicago airport, causing headaches for travelers

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic into Chicago airport, causing headaches for travelers
  • Demonstrators blocked a freeway leading to three terminals, stopping traffic into one of busiest US airports

CHICAGO: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked a freeway leading to three Chicago O’Hare International Airport terminals Monday morning, temporarily stopping vehicle traffic into one of the nation’s busiest airports and causing headaches for travelers.
Protesters linked arms and blocked lanes of Interstate 190 around 7 a.m., a demonstration they said was part of a global “economic blockade to free Palestine,” according to Rifqa Falaneh, one of the organizers. Traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was also snarled for hours Monday morning as pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down both directions of the Golden Gate Bridge and stalled a 17-mile (27-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 880 in Oakland.
O’Hare warned travelers on the social platform X to take alternative forms of transportation with car travel “substantially delayed this morning due to protest activity.”
Some travelers stuck in standstill traffic left their cars and walked the final leg to the airport along the freeway, trailing their luggage behind them.
Among them was Madeline Hannan from suburban Chicago. She was headed to O’Hare for a work trip to Florida when her and her husband’s car ended up stalled for 20 minutes. She got out and “both ran and speed walked” more than 1 mile. She said she made it to the gate on time, but barely.
“This was an inconvenience,” she said in a telephone interview from Florida. “But in the grand scheme of things going on overseas, it’s a minor inconvenience.”
While individual travelers may have been affected, operations at the airport appeared near normal with delays of under 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
Inbound traffic toward O’Hare resumed around 9 a.m.
On the Golden Gate Bridge in California, a small number of demonstrators stood by, as did police. Some protesters held a black banner that read “Stop the world for Gaza.” The iconic bridge was closed off to all auto traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians.
In Chicago, dozens of protesters were arrested, according to Falaneh. Chicago police said Monday that “multiple people” were taken into custody after a protest where people obstructed traffic but did not have a detailed count.
Protesters say they chose the location, in part, because O’Hare is one of the largest airports. Among other things, they’ve called for an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.
Anti- war protesters have demonstrated in Chicago near daily since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed around 1,200 people. Israeli warplanes and ground troops have conducted a scorched-earth campaign on the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli offensive has killed more than 33,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.


Four wounded in Sydney church attack, 15-year-old arrested

Four wounded in Sydney church attack, 15-year-old arrested
Updated 15 April 2024
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Four wounded in Sydney church attack, 15-year-old arrested

Four wounded in Sydney church attack, 15-year-old arrested
  • Police said suspect is being held at undisclosed location after attack provoked communal violence
  • The incident came two days after a man with a knife killed six people at a shopping mall in the city

SYDNEY: A knife attack at a live-streamed church service in Australia wounded four people on Monday and sparked clashes between riot police and outraged members of the local community.

A bishop and the 15-year-old suspect were among those being treated for “non-life threatening injuries” after the attack at an Assyrian Christian church in the west of Sydney.

Police said the suspect is being held at an undisclosed location after his alleged attack provoked communal violence that also left two officers hospitalized.

The incident came two days after a man with a knife killed six people at a shopping mall in the city’s east before being shot dead by police.

Graphic footage of Monday’s stabbing showed the suspect emerging from the congregation, rushing the dais and slashing wildly at Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel before being subdued by churchgoers.

Social media accounts leapt on news of the attack to make claims about the motive, none of which were verified by police.

There were tense scenes outside the church after Monday’s attack, with hundreds of angry members of the local community trying to make their way past a phalanx of riot police to reach the suspect.

An AFP journalist at the scene saw projectiles being hurled before police with riot shields and body armor pushed the protesters away from the church.

New South Wales acting assistant police commissioner Andrew Holland said the crowd had displayed an “emotional response to what took place in the church” — fueled by rumors and graphic images circulating on the Internet.

Two police vehicles and a number of houses were damaged as the protesters threw “bottles, bricks and other items,” Holland said.

One officer was “hit with a metal object and sustained a twisted knee and a chipped tooth,” police said.

“Another constable sustained a broken jaw after he was hit with a brick and a fence paling.”

Police urged the public to avoid the area amid “a large police response.”

AFP verified the video of Monday’s attack as being taken at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church, which has an online following of almost 200,000.

It is located in Sydney’s western suburb of Wakeley, a hub for Sydney’s small Christian Assyrian community, many of whom fled persecution and war in Iraq and Syria.

New South Wales state premier Chris Minns issued a joint statement with Christian and Muslim leaders calling for calm.

“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other,” the statement said.

“Now is the time to show that we are strong and united.”

Assyrians trace their roots to an empire that ruled a swath of the ancient Middle East.

Since that age of empire, they have faced persecution as a religious and ethnic minority distinct from the region’s Arab and Muslim majorities.

Australians are still reeling from Saturday’s stabbing, which was carried out by a 40-year-old man with a history of mental illness.

In that attack, videos shared on social media showed unshaven itinerant Joel Cauchi pursuing mostly female victims as he rampaged through the vast, crowded Westfield shopping complex in Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon.

A black ribbon was projected onto the Sydney Opera House on Monday as a mark of respect for the victims of that attack.


UK PM Sunak to speak with Israel’s Netanyahu, seeking to avoid escalation

UK PM Sunak to speak with Israel’s Netanyahu, seeking to avoid escalation
Updated 15 April 2024
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UK PM Sunak to speak with Israel’s Netanyahu, seeking to avoid escalation

UK PM Sunak to speak with Israel’s Netanyahu, seeking to avoid escalation
  • “All sides must show restraint," Sunak says

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday he would soon speak with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on how to prevent escalation in the region after Iran’s drone and missile attack.
“I will also shortly be speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu to express our solidarity with Israel in the face of this attack, and to discuss how we can prevent further escalation,” Sunak said in a statement to parliament.
“All sides must show restraint,” he added.
Last week Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel in retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
British military jets helped shoot down the drones.