60 dead, 145 injured in Moscow concert hall attack; Daesh claims responsibility

Smoke rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a reported shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Smoke rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a reported shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Ambulances and vehicles of Russian emergency services are parked outside the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Ambulances and vehicles of Russian emergency services are parked outside the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Russia’s foreign ministry called the incident a “terrorist attack” that had to be condemned. (AFP)
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Russia’s foreign ministry called the incident a “terrorist attack” that had to be condemned. (AFP)
Russia’s foreign ministry called the incident a “terrorist attack” that had to be condemned. (AFP)
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Russia’s foreign ministry called the incident a “terrorist attack” that had to be condemned. (AFP)
60 dead, 145 injured in Moscow concert hall attack; Daesh claims responsibility
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Smoke rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a reported shooting incident, on the outskirts of Moscow on Mar. 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 March 2024
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60 dead, 145 injured in Moscow concert hall attack; Daesh claims responsibility

60 dead, 145 injured in Moscow concert hall attack; Daesh claims responsibility
  • Russian authorities said a hunt had been launched for the attackers
  • Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry issues condemnation of attack

MOSCOW: At least sixty people have been killed after gunmen stormed a concert hall near Moscow on Friday in one of the deadliest attacks on Russia in decades.

Gunmen opened fire at a rock concert leaving dead and wounded before a major fire spread through the theater, Moscow’s mayor and Russian news agencies reported.

Authorities said a hunt had been launched for the attackers and that a “terrorism” investigation had been launched.

Attackers dressed in camouflaged outfits entered the building, opened fire and threw a grenade or incendiary bomb, according to a journalist for the RIA Novosti news agency who was at the scene.

Russian authorities said 145 people were injured in the incident that took place in Crocus City Hall.

The attack has been widely condemned.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had been informed minutes after the assailants went into the large music venue which can accommodate 6,200 people.

“The president is constantly supplied by all relevant services with information about what is happening and the measures being taken,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

US intelligence confirmed a claim by Daesh that it was behind the attack, but a spokesman for investigators said that it was too early to make an assessment on who was behind the incident.

But a source close to the Russian probe told Arab News that investigators are inclined to exclude versions of Ukraine and Daesh involvement.

However, a number of leading Russian experts believe that the terrorist attack is the work of the Ukrainian special services. In their view, without the help of Western intelligence agencies, it is unlikely that Ukrainians would have been able to plan and carry out this attack.

The US presidency called the attack “terrible” but said there was no immediate indication of any link to the war in Ukraine.

A US intelligence official told The Associated Press that US intelligence agencies had learned Daesh’s branch in Afghanistan was planning an attack in Moscow and shared the information with Russian officials.

On March 7, the US Embassy in Moscow said it was “monitoring reports that extremists are planning to attack large gatherings” of people in the Russian capital, “including concerts”.

Putin denounced the Western warnings as an attempt to intimidate Russians. “All that resembles open blackmail and an attempt to frighten and destabilize our society,” he said earlier this week.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin confirmed there were deaths in what he called a “terrible tragedy” at the concert by Russian rock band Piknik.

“I offer my condolences to the families of the dead,” said Moscow’s mayor as a major security operation was launched around the theater and nearby shopping mall.

Sobyanin said he had canceled all public events in Moscow for the weekend.

Russia’s foreign ministry labeled the incident a “terrorist attack” that had to be condemned.

Fire quickly spread through the Crocus City Hall, north of the Russian capital, where the theater can hold several thousand people and has staged several concerts by top international artists, according to the reports.

Automatic gunfire was used on the audience, the RIA Novosti journalist reported.

“People who were in the hall were led on the ground to protect themselves from the shooting for 15 or 20 minutes,” the journalist was quoted as saying.

People started crawling out when it was safe, the journalist reported, adding that security forces were at the scene.

About 100 people escaped through the theater basement while others were sheltering on the the roof, the emergency services ministry said on its Telegram channel.

Telegram news channels Baza and Mash, which are close to security forces, showed video images of flames and black smoke pouring from the concert hall.

 

Other images showed two men walking through the hall with at least one person left on the ground near the entrance.

Spectators were also seen hiding behind seats or trying to escape.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it had been a “terrorist attack.”

“The whole international community must condemn this odious crime,” she said on Telegram.

The Ministry of Education recommended that all educational institutions in the capital region announce unscheduled holidays in the coming days.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Friday condemning the attack.

TASS news agency said that SOBR and special police forces and the OMON anti-riot squad had been sent to the Crocus hall.
It added that all the members of the rock band had been evacuated safely.

Orthodox church leader Patriarch Kirill was “praying for peace for the souls of the dead,” said his spokesman Vladimir Legoyda.

— With input from Reuters, AP, AFP

 


Greece fears water shortages after warmest winter ever

Greece fears water shortages after warmest winter ever
Updated 4 sec ago
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Greece fears water shortages after warmest winter ever

Greece fears water shortages after warmest winter ever
  • “Would you like some water? Turn off the tap!” one public service announcement in Athens implores; another daily spot urges the capital’s residents to not fill their bath all the way to the top
ATHENS: After Greece’s warmest winter and earliest heatwave on record, authorities are sounding the alarm over the risk of dire water shortages in the heat of the Mediterranean summer.
“Would you like some water? Turn off the tap!” one public service announcement in Athens implores; another daily spot urges the capital’s residents to not fill their bath all the way to the top.
Already, there are signs that habits may need to change.
At the beginning of July, the Mornos reservoir around 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Athens, the main water source for the Attica region surrounding the capital, levels were down 30 percent from the same period last year.
And overall reserves for Attica were down by nearly a quarter over the same period, according to the water utility company EYDAP.
Home to more than a third of Greece’s population, the region of 3.7 million inhabitants was recently placed on “yellow alert” by EYDAP, which urged people to reduce consumption to keep reserves at a sustainable level.
Across Greece’s islands, which tend to rely on wells and desalination plants to meet water needs, the problem is even more acute.
Added pressure comes from the millions of tourists who flock to the country’s beaches each summer, swelling the local populations.
On some islands suffering from overtourism, the demand for water in summer “is sometimes 100 times greater than in winter,” Nikitas Mylopoulos, a professor of water resource management at the University of Thessaly, told AFP.
Mylopoulos said the problem of mass tourism was being compounded by poor water management.
At the end of June, a month-long state of emergency was declared for the Dodecanese island of Leros.
The island’s council noted malfunctions at the desalination plant, alleging “poor maintenance in the past.”
Other islands threatened by water scarcity include Sifnos in the Cyclades, Chios in the north Aegean and Lefkada and Corfu in the Ionian Sea.
Sifnos’s mayor, Maria Nadali, has criticized “the over-consumption of water for swimming pools and watering large gardens.”
On Lefkada, Michalis Makropoulos, a local resident and author, denounced a “deplorable” situation where “the water was cut off at the end of June for four consecutive days.”
In a local newspaper article, he blamed the problem on “years of mismanagement by the municipal authorities” and the “uncontrolled development of tourism without adequate infrastructure.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis traveled to Lefkada in July to announce “one of the largest water supply projects in Greece to cover the needs.”
The water shortfalls have been made worse by intense heat, which scientists say is at least in part a result of human-driven climate change.
The mildest Greek winter on record has been followed by higher average temperatures this spring.
Last month, the country’s earliest-ever heatwave resulted in the hottest June since 1960, with temperatures reaching 43 degrees Celsius (109 Fahrenheit) in many parts of the country.
The heat has also sparked an increase in wildfires, with more than a thousand recorded last month, more than double the number in the same month last year, authorities say.
The head of the water utility EYDAP, Charalambos Sachinis, has said a “special plan” had been drawn up “to deal with extreme water shortages,” including investments of around 750 million euros ($819 million).
Elissavet Feloni, a hydrologist at the National Technical University of Athens, said the company was also planning to tap Lake Yliki, around 85 kilometers northwest of Athens, as an additional emergency source alongside the main Mornos reservoir.
“However, this is an energy-intensive solution because the water has to be pumped up, whereas the Mornos stream has a natural gradient,” she said.
“For better water management, a central body needs to be set up to develop a comprehensive approach to resources across the country,” she said.

Extravagant wedding celebrations for the son of Asia’s richest man conclude with a reception

Extravagant wedding celebrations for the son of Asia’s richest man conclude with a reception
Updated 12 min 5 sec ago
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Extravagant wedding celebrations for the son of Asia’s richest man conclude with a reception

Extravagant wedding celebrations for the son of Asia’s richest man conclude with a reception
  • Youngest son of Mukesh Ambani married Radhika Merchant, daughter of pharma tycoons, with a price tag running into the millions
  • Ambani, who owns Reliance Industries conglomerate, is the world’s ninth-richest man with net worth of $116 billion, according to Forbes

MUMBAI: A wedding reception on Sunday wrapped up the monthslong celebrations as the youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, married his longtime girlfriend with a price tag running into the millions.
The newlyweds were cheered by friends and relatives at Mumbai’s Jio World Drive — a convention center built and owned by the Ambani family — as part of the “Mangal Utsav” (a festival of Bliss), which marked what many have dubbed as the wedding of the year.
Anant Ambani tied the knot with Radhika Merchant, daughter of pharma tycoons Viren and Shaila Merchant. The wedding rituals, including exchanging garlands by the couple and walking around the sacred fire, began Friday and were completed early Saturday.
Former British Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Tony Blair, as well as Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, American wrestler and actor John Cena, Bollywood superstars Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan were among the celebrities who attended the ceremonies on Friday and Saturday.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi blessed the newlyweds at a Saturday reception organized by the Ambanis, highlighting the billionaire’s rising clout.
“This is the final and the most auspicious ceremony and the last wedding in our family,” The Times of India newspaper quoted Mukesh Ambani. The Ambanis didn’t say how much they spent on the festivities that have been going on for months.

Indian actor Shahrukh Khan, second left, shares a light moment with his family as they pose for a picture during the blessing ceremony of newlywed couple Anant Ambani son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani's and his wife Radhika Merchant at Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai, India, on July 13, 2024. (AP)

During a three-day pre-wedding celebration in March, Rihanna and Akon performed for a star-studded 1,200-person guest list.
A four-day European cruise in May featured on-deck concerts from the Backstreet Boys and Pitbull, followed by a masquerade ball where Katy Perry sang. At last week’s traditional music night in Mumbai Justin Bieber belted out his music hits.

The Antilia mansion, house of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is lit up ahead of his son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant's wedding in Mumbai, India, on July 10, 2024. (AP)


The groom’s father, Mukesh Ambani, is the world’s ninth-richest man, with a net worth of $116 billion, according to Forbes. He is the richest person in Asia. His Reliance Industries is a conglomerate reporting over $100 billion in annual revenue, with interests that include petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecoms and retail.
The Ambani family owns, among other assets, a 27-story family compound in Mumbai worth $1 billion. The building contains three helipads, a 160-car garage and a private movie theater.
The groom, 29-year-old Anant, oversees the conglomerate’s renewable and green energy expansion. He also runs a 3,000-acre (about 1,200-hectare) animal rescue center in Gujarat state’s Jamnagar, the family’s hometown.
The bride, also 29, is the daughter of pharmaceutical tycoon Viren Merchant and is the marketing director for his company, Encore Healthcare, according to Vogue.
Ambani’s critics say his company has relied on political connections during Congress Party-led governments in the 1970s and ‘80s, and under Modi’s rule since 2014.
 


Rescuers in Nepal recover 7 bodies after a landslide swept 2 buses of people into a river

Rescuers in Nepal recover 7 bodies after a landslide swept 2 buses of people into a river
Updated 25 min 51 sec ago
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Rescuers in Nepal recover 7 bodies after a landslide swept 2 buses of people into a river

Rescuers in Nepal recover 7 bodies after a landslide swept 2 buses of people into a river
  • Rescuers were able to find the bodies in different locations on the riverbanks
  • The buses swept away Friday morning near Simaltal, about 120 kilometers west of Katmandu

KATMANDU: Rescuers have recovered a total of seven bodies from the river that two buses full of people were swept into by a landslide, officials said Monday.
Rescuers were able to find the bodies in different locations on the riverbanks as the search continues for the missing buses and people on board.
Government administrator Khima Nanda Bhusal said the bodies were identified and relatives contacted. Three of the dead are Indians and the remaining four are Nepali nationals.
The buses were on the key highway connecting Nepal’s capital to southern parts of the country when they were swept away Friday morning near Simaltal, about 120 kilometers west of Katmandu.
The first body was recovered Sunday some 50 kilometers from where the buses fell.
Weather conditions improved Saturday and search teams were able to cover more ground in the hunt for the missing buses and passengers. Heavy equipment had cleared much of the landslides from the highway, making it easier to reach the area as rescuers expanded their scope toward the southern region from where the first body was found, Bhusal said.
The government has imposed a ban on passenger buses traveling at night in the areas where weather warnings are posted, according to the Home Ministry.


Indian troops kill three suspected Kashmir militants

Indian troops kill three suspected Kashmir militants
Updated 50 min 31 sec ago
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Indian troops kill three suspected Kashmir militants

Indian troops kill three suspected Kashmir militants
  • Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947
  • New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of stoking militancy and espionage to undermine each other

NEW DELHI: Soldiers in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir have killed three suspected militants, the army said, the latest incident in an uptick of attacks in the disputed northern territory.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947.
The Indian army’s Chinar Corps said late Sunday that three people were killed in an “anti-infiltration operation” in Kashmir’s Kupwara district, with “weapons and other war-like stores” seized.
India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full and have fought three wars for control of the Himalayan region.
New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of stoking militancy and espionage to undermine each other.
Rebel groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels.
Earlier this month, gunmen ambushed an army convoy killing five soldiers, and two other soldiers and six suspected militants were killed in separate incidents.
In June, nine Indian Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens wounded when a gunman opened fire on a bus carrying them from a shrine in the southern Reasi area.
It was one of the deadliest attacks in years and the first on Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir since 2017, when gunmen killed seven people in another ambush on a bus.


Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’

Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’
Updated 15 July 2024
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Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’

Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’
  • Assassination attempt targeting former US president left one attendee dead and critically injured two others
  • Secret Service said it killed suspected shooter who attacked from an elevated position outside rally value

Global leaders expressed concern Sunday over an assassination attempt targeting former US President Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania that left one attendee dead and critically injured two others.

Trump’s campaign said the presumptive Republican nominee was doing “fine” after being whisked off the stage though the shooting pierced the upper part of his right ear.

The Secret Service said it killed the suspected shooter who attacked from an elevated position outside the rally venue.

US authorities are still investigating the shooting.
Argentina
Argentina’s President Javier Milei said Trump was the “victim of a cowardly assassination attempt that put his life and that of hundreds of people at risk.”

In a post on X, Milei also said the apparent assassination attempt highlighted the “desperation of the international left” and its “willingness to destabilize democracies and promote violence to screw itself into power.”

Australia
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the “inexcusable attack” on the United States and Australia’s shared democratic values.

“In Australia, as in the United States, the essence and the purpose of our democracies is that we can express our views, debate our disagreements and resolve our differences peacefully,” Albanese told reporters in the Australian Parliament House.

Brazil
Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, called the incident unacceptable on X and said the attack must be “strongly repudiated” by all democracy defenders.

His predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who is a close Trump ally, relayed his solidarity with “the world’s greatest leader of the moment.” Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen at a campaign event ahead of the 2018 presidential election, which he went on to win.

Trump, he told reporters, was saved by a matter of a few centimeters. “This — to understand — is something that comes from above,” he added.

Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with former President Trump on Sunday.

“The Prime Minister condemned yesterday’s appalling assassination attempt and reiterated there’s no place for political violence,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement. “The Prime Minister wished the former President well and offered condolences to the shooting victims and to the family of Corey Comperatore.”

China

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China is concerned about the attack and President Xi Jinping has already extended his sympathies to Trump.

Egypt

Egyptian President Abdelfattah El El-Sisi stressed his country’s condemnation of the attack in a statement and wished for the US election campaigns to resume peacefully.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his wishes to Trump for a prompt recovery. “It is a drama for our democracies. France shares the indignation of the American people,” he posted on X.

Germany

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz posted on X saying the attack was “despicable” and such violent acts threaten democracy. “My compassionate thoughts are also with the other people who were hurt in the attack,” he said.
Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his thoughts and prayers were with Trump “in these dark hours” on X.

India

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said he was deeply concerned by “the attack on my friend.”

“Strongly condemn the incident. Violence has no place in politics and democracies,” he wrote on X.
Iraq

Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” saying on X his thoughts are with the victims of “this senseless act of terrorism.”

Israel

At the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he watched “in horror,” adding that the attack was also an “assassination attempt on American democracy.”

He said everyone in Israel was sending Trump wishes for “a quick recovery and return to full strength.”

Italy

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement the attack was a cause for serious alarm and “a disconcerting symptom of the deterioration of the civil fabric and of the dangerous refusal of confrontation, dialogue and respect for democratic life.”

Meanwhile, Premier Giorgia Meloni wished Trump a quick recovery.

Japan

“We must stand firm against any form of violence that challenges democracy,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on X.

Mexico

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, denounced the attack on X and said “violence is irrational and inhumane.”

Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the shooting a “shocking development.” He said he condemned all violence in politics and wished the former president a swift recovery and good health.

And imprisoned Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Imran Khan, who was shot and injured at a rally in November 2022, wished Trump a full recovery. “Political violence is a tool of cowards and has no place in a democracy,” he said on X.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has no plans at present to call Trump, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“We do not at all think or believe that the attempt to eliminate presidential candidate Trump was organized by the current government, but the atmosphere that this administration created during the political struggle, the atmosphere around candidate Trump provoked what America is faced with today,” he added.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said earlier Sunday on her Telegram channel that American lawmakers should employ the money they use to supply weapons to Ukraine “to finance the American police and other services which should ensure law and order within the United States.”

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote on X that the attempted assassination of Trump “is a stark reminder of the dangers of political extremism and intolerance.”

Ramaphosa also voiced his hope that “the citizens and leaders of America will have the fortitude and sagacity to reject violence and seek peaceful solutions.”

Slovakia

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who survived an assassination attempt in May, condemned the shooting in a Facebook post. He drew direct parallels between the two incidents, suggesting the attack on Trump was the result of a campaign by his political opponents.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s president, Lai Ching-te, said on X his thoughts and prayers are with Trump, adding that political violence of any form is never acceptable “in our democracies.”

Turkiye

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the shooting on X, offering his good wishes to Trump, his family and supporters.

He said he believed “the investigation into the attack will be conducted effectively” so as not to undermine the US elections.

The European Commission

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on X she was deeply shocked by the shooting, adding that political violence has no place in democracy.

Ukraine

Also on X, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was appalled to learn about the shooting, saying such violence has no justification. He added he was relieved to learn that Trump is safe.

Zelensky extended his wishes for strength to everyone who was horrified by the event.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack on Trump, describing it as “a criminal and extremist act.”

United Kingdom

UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer said on X that he was appalled by the “shocking scenes,” and sent his best wishes to Trump and his family.

“Political violence in any form has no place in our societies,” he said.

British lawmaker Nigel Farage, a friend of Trump’s, sought to pin much of the blame on the “mainstream media” that he claimed opposed the former president. He told the BBC that it was a “horrendous” incident but somehow he was not shocked by it.

Vatican

In a statement, the Vatican expressed its concern over “last night’s episode of violence, which hurts people and democracy, causing suffering and death.” Pope Francis didn’t mention the apparent assassination attempt in his weekly prayers earlier.

Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro condemned the attack during a campaign event in the town of Guacara. “We have been adversaries, but I wish President Trump health and long life, and I repudiate the attack,” Maduro added.