Friday, 23 December 2016

Graphic photos from a gas explosion incident in Ghana

Many people were severely burnt in a gas explosion that occurred at La Trade Fair in Ghana yesterday evening. See more photos from the scene after the cut.

Photos: Berlin Christmas Market terror suspect killed in shoot-out with police in Milan

Anis Amri, the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack was killed in a shoot-out with police in a suburb of the Italian city of Milan on Friday. Anis, 24, killed 12 people and wounded dozens more in Monday's assault on a Christmas market, which has been claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Italy's interior minister Marco Minniti told a press conference in Rome that Amri had been fatally shot after firing at police who had stopped his car for a routine identity check around 3:00 am (0200 GMT).

Identity checks had established "without a shadow of doubt" that the dead man was Amri, the minister said.
Amri had been missing since escaping after Monday's attack in central Berlin. He had links to Italy, having arrived in the country from his native Tunisia in 2011.

Shortly after his arrival in Italy he was sentenced to a four-year prison term for starting a fire in a refugee centre. He was released in 2015 and made his way to Germany.
German police said Amri steered the 40-tonne truck in the attack after finding his identity papers and fingerprints inside the cab, next to the body of its registered Polish driver who was killed with a gunshot to the head.

A Europe-wide wanted notice had offered a 100,000-euro ($104,000) reward for information leading to Amri's arrest.

In Tunisia, a brother of the fugitive had appealed to him to surrender and said: "If my brother is behind the attack, I say to him 'You dishonour us'."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she was "proud of how calmly most people reacted" to the country's deadliest attack in years.
Berlin public broadcaster RBB reported that police filmed Amri heading into a Berlin mosque on Tuesday - after the attack - at a time when the investigation was still focused on a Pakistani suspect who was later released.

Officials earlier revealed that Amri was a rejected asylum seeker with a history of crime, had spent years in an Italian jail and had long been known to German counter-terrorism agencies.
News weekly Der Spiegel reported that in wiretaps, Amri could be heard offering to carry out a suicide operation, but that his words were too vague for an arrest warrant.

Amri had been monitored since March, suspected of planning break-ins to raise cash for automatic weapons to carry out an attack - but the surveillance was stopped in September because Amri was mostly active as a small-time drug dealer.

On Thursday, Berliners flocked to the reopened Breitscheid square Christmas market that was targeted in Monday's carnage. The government has appealed for people to carry on as normal and not to give in to fear. Organisers dimmed festive lights and turned down the Christmas jingles as a mark of respect for those killed.

Victims were also honoured with candles, flowers, letters of condolence and signs reading "Love Not Hate". Among the dead were six Germans, 60-year-old Israeli Dalia Elyakim, and a young Italian woman called Fabrizia Di Lorenzo. Forty-eight others were injured. 
On Friday, a memorial concert was planned at the iconic Brandenburg gate under the theme of "Together Berlin".

Judge rules against Mrs Mugabe in $1.3m diamond ring case

A Zimbabwean judge has ordered the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, to return properties she seized from a Lebanese businessman. The seizure was connected to a $1.3 million diamond ring deal.
Mrs Mugabe ordered the seizure of three properties belonging to the businessman, Jamal Ahmed. Her action was because Jamal had failed to repay the said amount after giving her a polished ring contrary to her specifications.
But the Harare High Court judge, Clement Phiri ordered her to remove her representatives from the three buildings belonging to the Lebanese and to ensure that all workers who had lost their jobs through the takeover are immediately reinstated.
The ring purchased in Dubai was to be in commemoration of the Mugabes’ wedding anniversary. Robert married Grace in 1996 and this year marked the 20th anniversary of their union.
The First Lady who is on annual leave with Mr Mugabe reportedly in the Middle East after flying out on Tuesday was not in court but her attorney, one Wilson Manase, stood in for her.

[Updated] Hijacked Libyan plane lands in Malta, hostage release underway

A Libyan plane with 118 people on board has landed in Malta in what the island’s prime minister called a “potential hijack situation”.

The Airbus A320 was on an internal flight for Afriqiyah Airways when it was diverted on Friday morning and according to Malta airport, two hijackers appear to be on board the plane on the runway.

Update 5: Mayor of Libyan town confirms hijack

The BBC reports that the mayor of Sebha, the town where the plane was reportedly hijacked has confirmed the incident.
The plane left Tmenhant airport at 09:05 GMT heading for the capital Tripoli. “It was hijacked and investigations are continuing to establish how any explosives or weapons made it on board. The security at this airport is not good. It’s a military airport,” Col Hamed Al-Khayali is quoted to have said.

West Africa standby forces 'on alert' to intervene in Gambia

Defiant Gambian President Yammeh Jammeh risks being ejected by force after West Africa regional bloc said it had put its standby forces on alert.
ECOWAS commission Marcel de Souza warned on Thursday that a military intervention could be used to restore the people’s wish” if mediation efforts which are being spearheaded by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, failed to persuade Jammeh to give up power.
ECOWAS has previously warned him that it would take “all necessary actions” to resolve the impasse.
Jammeh has vowed to stay in power despite losing a December 1 election to property developer Adama Barrow.
The long serving president had initially conceded defeat but later called for the election to be annulled, alleging that it was marred by irregularities.
Gambia’s Supreme Court has set 10 January as the hearing date for a case brought by Jammeh’s party to cancel the result.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Russia used Syria as live-fire training - US general

The US army's commander in Europe has accused Russia of using its military campaign in Syria as a "live-fire training opportunity".
Lt Gen Ben Hodges said Russia's "disregard for civilian casualties... is not the conduct of a nation that wants to be treated like a superpower".
Russia's defence minister said on Thursday that its air force had killed 35,000 fighters in Syria.
But Russia has been accused of using heavy weapons in civilian areas.
It has consistently denied targeting civilians.

'Stronger than any potential aggressor'

Russia's aerial intervention in the Syrian conflict last year has helped the Syrian army capture eastern Aleppo. But it has further heightened tensions with the West, after it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.
Source: BBC

Donald Trump: US must greatly expand nuclear weapons

Donald Trump has called for the US to "greatly strengthen and expand" its nuclear arsenal.
The president-elect, who takes office next month, said the US must take such action "until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes".
He spoke hours after President Vladimir Putin said Russia needs to bolster its military nuclear potential.
The US has 7,100 nuclear weapons and Russia has 7,300, according to the US nonpartisan Arms Control Association.
During Mr Trump's campaign he told a Fox News interviewer that Japan and South Korea should consider arming themselves with nuclear weapons in order to defend against North Korea without help from the US.
He later retracted that statement, saying that Hillary Clinton had lied about his foreign policy position.
Mr Trump's announcement, which came via Twitter, was published in a string of several tweets on Thursday morning.
Mr Trump also wrote to criticise a resolution being considered at the United Nations and to reiterate his vow to "drain the swamp" - a reference to corruption in Washington DC.