Saturday, 22 August 2015

France train shooting: Hollande thanks 'heroes' who foiled gunman


  • 4 hours ago
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  • From the sectionEurope
Media captionAmericans Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos and Briton Chris Norman tell of what they did - a third American, Spencer Stone, was hospitalised
French President Francois Hollande has thanked three American men hailed as heroes for overpowering a heavily-armed gunman on a train in northern France.
The incident happened on the high-speed Thalys service near Arras on Friday. A 26-year-old Moroccan man was arrested.
One of the Americans said they took an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun from the attacker as they saw him walk down the aisle of the train.
One of the Americans and another passenger were seriously hurt.
In a press conference on Saturday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the suspect's identity had yet to be confirmed, but it was believed that he had radical Islamist beliefs.

'Chokehold'

Two of the American men who overpowered the gunman, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, are members of the Air Force and the National Guard respectively.
They were travelling on the train from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday evening with a childhood friend, Anthony Sadler, who also helped restrain the attacker.
Media captionInterior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve: "[The suspect's] details were flagged up to the French authorities... in February 2014, due to his involvement in radical Islamist movements"
When a French passenger tried to enter a toilet on the train, he encountered the gunman, tried to overpower him and the gun was then fired, Mr Cazeneuve said.
A French-American passenger was injured by the bullet, and the American passengers intervened shortly afterward, he said.
"Spencer got to the guy first and grabbed the guy by the neck," Mr Skarlatos told Sky News.
"I grabbed the handgun, got that away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK-47, which was at his feet, and started muzzle-bumping him in the head with it.
"Everybody just started beating the guy while Spencer held the chokehold until he went unconscious."
Forensics experts check the crime scene, 21 Aug
Scene-of-crime experts were quickly summoned
When he checked the AK-47, Mr Skarlatos said it had jammed and would not have been able to fire. The cartridge for the handgun had also been dropped, he said.
Mr Sandler said: "I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe, and we stopped a terrorist. Kinda crazy."
Mr Cazeneuve said Mr Hollande had thanked the men by telephone and will meet them in the coming days.
Chris Norman, a British man living in France, was also hurt while trying to subdue the attacker.
"I came in at the end of it all and helped get him under control," he said at a news conference in Arras.
Media captionAnthony Sadler's father Tony says he is "still wrapping his head around" events of the past 24 hours
"The guy pulled out a cutter and started cutting Spencer - he cut behind his neck and nearly cut his thumb off."
The second seriously injured man, who has not been identified, suffered severe cuts to his neck. Spencer Stone went to help him despite his own injuries. Mr Stone remains in hospital.
"I'm really proud of my friend that he just reacted so quickly and so bravely," Anthony Sadler said.
"He was really the first one over there. Even after being injured himself, he went to go help the other man who was bleeding also. Without his help, he would have died.
"That man was bleeding from his neck profusely."
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, 21 Aug
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who was on board, said: "I thought it was the end"
The 554 passengers included French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, the star of Betty Blue and Nikita, who was lightly wounded breaking glass to sound the alarm.
In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Mr Anglade said train staff entered a private cabin and locked it when they heard gunshots, leaving the passengers alone.
"I thought it was the end, that we were going to die, that he was going to kill us all," he said.
"I really could see us all dying because we were all prisoners in that train, it would have been impossible to escape from that nightmare."
The American men and Mr Norman were awarded medals for bravery by authorities in Arras.
In a statement, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the "extraordinary courage of the passengers who intervened and helped disarm the gunman, including the British consultant Chris Norman".
Map
"The bravery of Mr Norman and the other passengers helped to prevent a terrible incident," he said.
US President Barack Obama also praised those who took action.
"It is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy," the White House said in a statement.

Belgian investigation

Mr Cazeneuve said the suspect had lived in Spain until 2014, and in Belgium this year.
Spanish intelligence passed on information about the suspect to France in February 2014, he said.
Anti-terror investigators in Paris now have 96 hours to question the suspect.
Belgian prosecutors also opened an anti-terror investigation on Saturday morning.
France has been on edge since the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January, which left 17 people dead.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Somalia: Public Land Illegally Sold in Mogadishu


Since the end of the transition period in 2012, land prices started to rise to as much as ten-fold compared to the previous year in parts of Mogadishu. This in turn led to private investors buying up public land with the help of their friends in government.
Let us take a look at the effects of corruption in Mogadishu where almost all the public gardens have opaquely been turned into petrol stations or restaurants.
This site used to be a state-owned petrol station. There is no transparency about how and why it was sold to a private company.
This site used to be a state-owned petrol station. There is no transparency about how and why it was sold to a private company.
This site used to be a state-owned petrol station. There is no transparency about how and why it was sold to a private company.
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This petrol station in Hawlwadaag is built on public property that was used as a public garden.
This petrol station in Hawlwadaag is built on public property that was used as a public garden.
This petrol station in Hawlwadaag is built on public property that was used as a public garden.
______________
This petrol station in KM4 is on public land.
This petrol station in KM4 is on public land.
This petrol station in KM4 is on public land.
___________
A truck gets into the Yaqshid garden where work is ongoing to turn it into a petrol station.
A truck gets into the Yaqshid garden where work is ongoing to turn it into a petrol station.
A truck gets into the Yaqshid garden where work is ongoing to turn it into a petrol station.
__________________
After stopping work on the site earlier in the year due to opposition from the new Banadir administration, work has resumed on the site without intervention from authorities
After stopping work on the site earlier in the year due to opposition from the new Banadir administration, work has resumed on the site without intervention from authorities
After stopping work on the site earlier in the year due to opposition from the new Banadir administration, work has resumed on the site without intervention from authorities
____________
The Bondhere district part of the gardens illegally sold to local businessmen.
The Bondhere district part of the  gardens illegally sold to local businessmen.
The Bondhere district part of the gardens illegally sold to local businessmen.
__________
The second garden of Yaqshid one year ago when it was sold to a local businessman.
The second garden of Yaqshid one year ago when it was sold to a local businessman.
The second garden of Yaqshid one year ago when it was sold to a local businessman.
______________
This is the Florensa, aka Hararyale, public garden illegally sold to Hass Petroleum.
This is the Florensa, aka Hararyale, public garden illegally sold to Hass Petroleum.
This is the Florensa, aka Hararyale, public garden illegally sold to Hass Petroleum.





Saturday, 4 July 2015

Islamic State 'murders 25 men in Palmyra'


A picture taken on March 14, 2014 shows a partial view of the theatre at the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, 215 kilometres northeast of Damascus
A video apparently released by the Islamic State group shows 25 men being shot dead in the ancient city of Palmyra, in Syria.
IS said the men were soldiers captured in the city of Homs. They were shot dead inside Palmyra's amphitheatre.
Stills from the video showed the killers to be young males, possibly even as young as 13 or 14.
IS captured Palmyra and the neighbouring modern city, locally known as Tadmur, in late May.
The video was distributed by accounts known to be linked with Islamic State militants. It is not clear when it was filmed.
The killings took place on a stage in the amphitheatre in front of a large black IS flag.
Several hundred men in civilian clothes are filmed sitting on steps watching the shootings. Among them was a young boy.
In close-up shots of the men waiting to be killed, they appear to have been beaten on the face.
Days after IS claimed Palmyra, it executed 20 men in the same amphitheatre.
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The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says shootings took place in the amphitheatre on 27 May, but it is not clear if those killings are the ones in the video.
The video goes on to show the destruction of Tadmur prison, which occurred in late May.
In May, Mamoun Abdelkarim, Syria's head of antiquities, said: "Using the Roman theatre to execute people proves that these people are against humanity."
Mr Abdulkarim said most of the museum's antiquities had been transferred to Damascus before IS approached the city.
Since then, there have been reports that mines have been planted among some of Palmyra's ruins, and there were claims this week that militantsdestroyed an ancient sculpture outside Palmyra's museum.
Since capturing the city, IS has also taken control of a military airbase and a notorious prison nearby.
The ancient ruins are situated in a strategically important area on the road between the capital, Damascus, and the contested eastern city of Deir al-Zour.
Fighters with IS started claiming vast swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, aided in part by the insecurity generated by Syria's civil war.
More than 230,000 Syrians have died in the war, which began after President Bashar al-Assad's forces tried to put down anti-government protests in March 2011.

Islamic State 'beheads women for sorcery' in Syria


A member of Islamic State's vice police force, known as al-Hisba, patrols a market in Raqqa, Syria (17 April 2015)
Islamic State has imposed an extreme interpretation of Islamic law in the areas in it controls
Islamic State (IS) has beheaded two women in eastern Syria, the first time the jihadist group has decapitated female civilians, activists say.
The women were killed along with their husbands in the city of Deir al-Zour and the town of al-Mayadeen, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
All four were accused of sorcery.
IS has previously decapitated the bodies of Kurdish female fighters killed in battle. The group has also beheaded men for witchcraft in Iraq.
The group's extreme interpretation of Islamic law has also seen gay men thrown off buildings and women stoned for adultery.
Last week, IS militants in Syria hanged two youths from a beam by their wrists after accusing them of not fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The killing of people for sorcery is not unique to IS. The authorities in Saudi Arabia have also beheaded both men and women on similar charges.