Briton among three killed in Kabul attack

Updated 17 May 2015

Briton among three killed in Kabul attack

KABUL: Three people including a British national working with the European Union police were killed Sunday when a Taleban militant rammed his explosives-laden car into a foreign convoy in Kabul, the latest attack of Afghanistan’s fighting season.

At least 18 people were wounded in the assault, which comes three days after 14 people -- mostly foreigners -- were killed in a Taleban attack on a Kabul guest house that trapped dozens attending a concert.
The suicide bomber targeted the foreign convoy, which included two vehicles of the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL), during the Sunday morning rush hour near Kabul airport.
“A suicide bomber detonated his Toyota sedan targeting a foreign forces convoy near Kabul airport today at 9:00 am,” Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi told AFP.
“The target of the attacker was the foreign forces convoy. So far we have two women dead, 18 others wounded, all of them civilians,” he said, adding that three children were among those wounded.
EUPOL in a statement confirmed that one of the mission’s vehicles was hit by the explosion near Kabul airport resulting in the death of one security personnel.
Two mission members who were also in the vehicle suffered injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening, EUPOL said in the statement.
In London, UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that the victim was a British national and “strongly condemned (the Taleban’s) cowardly actions”.
“I can confirm that a British security contractor is among those killed in the attack,” Hammond said in a statement. “His family has been informed and my thoughts are with them at this incredibly difficult time.”
An AFP photographer at the scene saw troops hauling away the body of a person in military-style uniform, pulled out from the twisted wreck of a badly damaged sedan.
Taleban insurgents, who have stepped up attacks on foreign targets after launching their spring offensive late last month, claimed responsibility for the car bombing.


Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

Updated 54 min 26 sec ago

Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

  • Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures

ROME: Italy’s Muslims gathered in parks and public squares to celebrate the end of Ramadan, as many of the country’s mosques remained shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic places of worship have been going slow on welcoming back congregations, despite an easing of a months-long lockdown, in order to guarantee social distancing and other preventive steps required under an agreement between Muslim communities and the government.

Mosques and prayer rooms will have to respect the same strict rules which have been imposed on Catholic churches. Halls will have to be sanitized before and after every prayer and a maximum of 200 people will be allowed, even in the biggest places of worship. For outdoor prayers a limit of 1,000 people has been set and each worshipper must be spaced at least one meter apart from the next. Those with a temperature above 37.5 degrees cannot enter.

Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures.

“Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all Muslims in Italy as they have two reasons to celebrate,” Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), said in a message. 

“This is not the only festivity closing the holy month of Ramadan, it matters even more to us all this year in Italy as it finally marks the return of our faithful to the mosque after several months of lockdown due to coronavirus. The Muslim faithful all over Italy now pray to God to accept the fasts, prayers and every good deed carried out during this holy  month and bring peace and blessing to our homes, so that phase two in the fight against COVID-19 in Italy will start in the best way possible.”

Many Muslims celebrated Eid at home with immediate family members. Those who decided to meet and pray together outside their households did it while “strictly respecting” health protocols and social distancing to avoid risk of infection, UCOII said. The organization asked people to display the same “utmost prudence and responsibility” when entering every place of worship from now on.

At Milan’s Al-Wahid Mosque Imam Yahya Sergio Pallavicini set up spacing for 140 new prayer mats. There are different entry and exit points for men and women, along with dedicated courtyards. 

Sanitization is carried out regularly while detergents, disinfecting gel and personal protective equipment are being offered by city authorities. “We pray for the inner and outer health of believers and Italian people,” Pallavicini said at the start of Eid prayers.

Almost 200 people gathered to pray in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Muslims arranged their prayer mats and moved about in line with social distancing rules. Posters in Italian and Arabic told people that hugging was not allowed. 

“Even if we are in an outside space, nobody has to get too close,” the imam told his flock before prayers commenced. “It is mandatory and for the sake of everyone’s health.” There were children in the congregation too, and everyone wore face masks.

“I am so happy that I am finally meeting my friends for this prayer, but we have to stay apart,” 13-year-old Samir told Arab News. “We will have time to embrace, to play together in the future, when the virus will be gone.” He said he had missed going to his mosque, near Furio Camillo station, during the lockdown. 

“I prayed with my father, of course we were following prayers on YouTube and on Facebook. But it was not the same. Here I really feel part of a group sharing a faith. And it is great to be together again,” he added.

In Piazza Re di Roma, in the southern part of the city center, 250 Muslims gathered to pray. “We just prayed together, and stayed in the square for an hour only,” 31-year-old Latif told Arab News. “The celebration will be with our families later on.”

An outdoor celebration took place in the Sicilian capital Palermo with Mayor Leoluca Orlando also joining in. “We are happy for this celebration which marks another sign of the return to normality of our communities,” he told Arab News. “Being able to pray together is one of the most important needs for a religion as that improves the sense of community. Now we can do it again together: and that’s a great sign not only for the Muslim community but for the entire population of Palermo.”