Thirteen killed, 120 injured in Afghanistan car bomb blast

A suicide car bombing killed at least 13 people and injured around 120 others in Afghanistan’s western Ghor province on Sunday, officials said.

Mohammad Omer Lalzad, the head of a hospital in Ghor, said emergency staff were treating dozens of people with both serious and light injuries from the bombing. He expected the death toll to rise.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Aran said the bomber struck near the entrance of the provincial police chief’s office and other nearby government buildings in the area.

No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes amid an increase in attacks by the Taliban as representatives of the group and Afghan government officials hold their first-ever face-to-face talks in Qatar, where the Taliban have had a political office for many years. The negotiations are meant to end the country’s decades-long war.

Arif Aber, spokesman for the provincial governor in Ghor, said the blast was so strong that its sound could be heard across Feroz Koh, the capital city of the province.

“It damaged and partially destroyed a few government buildings, including the police chief’s office, the women’s affairs department and the provincial office for refugees,” the spokesman said.

On Friday, the Taliban agreed to suspend attacks in southern Afghanistan that had displaced thousands of residents in recent days.

It came after the US vowed to halt all strikes and night raids in keeping with the peace agreement America signed with the Taliban in February.

The US had been carrying out air strikes in support of Afghan forces trying to repel Taliban assaults in Helmand province, which threatened to derail efforts to end Afghanistan’s war.

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Categories: Afghanistan, Afghanistan's war, Bombing, Helmand, News, Taliban, terrorism

Chechnya strongman condemns murder of teacher in France

Chechnya’s strongman regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has used massive federal subsidies to rebuild the province and squelched any resistance with his feared security forces, has condemned the killing of a teacher in France.

An 18-year-old from Chechnya claimed responsibility for the attack in a Paris suburb before being shot by the police.

Mr Kadyrov condemned the crime also warned against insulting the feelings of Muslims.

The teacher was apparently targeted for discussing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed with students.

“We condemn this act of terror and offer our condolences to the relatives of the man who was killed,” Mr Kadyrov said on his blog.

“While speaking out categorically against any manifestation of terrorism, I also urge not to provoke believers, not to offend their religious feelings.”

He went on to criticise French society for what he described as manifestations of “provocative” disrespect for Islamic values.

“When France has a proper state institution of inter-ethnic and inter-faith relations, then the country will have a healthy society.”

Mr Kadyrov noted that the Chechen suspect only visited the region once when he was two years old.


Read more: Suspect in French beheading horror was Chechen teenager

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Categories: Chechen, Chechnya, Killing in France, News, Prophet Muhammad, Ramzan Kadyrov

Demonstrations across France to pay tribute to murdered teacher

Demonstrations have been called around France in support of freedom of speech and to pay tribute to a history teacher who was beheaded near Paris after discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed with his class.

Samuel Paty was decapitated on Friday by an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee, who was then shot dead by police.

Political leaders, associations and unions will rally on Sunday afternoon in Paris and other major cities including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.

The gatherings come as French authorities said they have detained a 10th person following the horrific attack in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north-west of Paris.

French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive has been opened.

At least four of those detained are family members of the attacker, who had been granted a 10-year residency in France as a refugee in March, was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets.

His half-sister joined the Islamic State group in Syria in 2014, Mr Ricard said. He did not give her name, and it is not clear where she is now.

The prosecutor said a text claiming responsibility and a photograph of the victim were found on the suspect’s phone.

He also confirmed that a Twitter account under the name Abdoulakh A belonged to the suspect. It posted a photo of the decapitated head minutes after the attack along with the message “I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down”.

The attack has provoked global condemnation.

US President Donald Trump referred to the killing on Saturday night during a political rally in Janesville, Wisconsin.

“On behalf of the United States, I’d like to extend my really sincere condolences to a friend of mine, President (Emmanuel) Macron of France, where they just yesterday had a vicious, vicious Islamic terrorist attack – beheading an innocent teacher near Paris,” he said. “France is having a hard time and Macron’s a great guy.”


Read more: Suspect in French beheading horror was Chechen teenager

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Categories: Charlie Hebdo, France, Islam's Prophet Muhammad, Moscow born Chechen, murdered teacher, News, Samuel Paty

Suspect in French beheading horror was Chechen teenager

A suspect shot dead by police after the beheading of a history teacher near Paris was an 18-year-old Chechen, French police said.

Authorities investigating the horrific killing of the man in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine have also arrested nine suspects, including the grandparents, parents and 17-year-old brother of the suspected attacker.

The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said.

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim Russian republic in the North Caucasus. Two wars in the 1990s triggered a wave of emigration, with many Chechens heading for western Europe.

France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, believed to be linked to local criminal activity and score-settling.

A police official said the suspect in Friday’s attack north of the capital was shot dead about 600 yards from where the teacher was killed.

He was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun – which fires plastic pellets – and police opened fire after he failed to respond to orders to put down his weapons, and acted in a threatening manner.

French president Emmanuel Macron arrived quickly at the school on Friday night to denounce what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack”. He urged the nation to stand united against extremism.

Mr Macron said: “One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe.”

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive.

It is the second time in three weeks that terror has struck France linked to caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Last month, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The weekly was the target of a deadly newsroom attack in 2015, and it republished caricatures of the prophet this month to underscore the right to freedom of information as a trial opened linked to that attack.

Friday’s terror attack came as Mr Macron’s government works on a bill to address Islamic radicals, who authorities claim are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic.

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the country’s second-most popular religion.

The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, a police official told The Associated Press.

The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said.


Read more: French leader decries Islamist terror attack against teacher

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Categories: Chechen, Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Emmanuel Macron, Islamist terrorist attack, News

French leader decries Islamist terror attack against teacher

French President Emmanuel Macron has denounced what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb.

The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot by police after Friday’s beheading.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation concerning murder with a suspected terrorist motive, the prosecutor’s office said.

President Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with staff after the killing.

An Associated Press reporter saw three ambulances arrive at the scene, and heavily armed police surrounding the area and police vans lining leafy nearby streets.

“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught… the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” President Macron said.

He said the attack should not divide France because that is what the extremists want.

“We must stand all together as citizens,” he said.

The gruesome killing of the teacher occurred in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine while the suspect was killed by police in adjoining Eragny.

A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 metres from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.

The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press.

The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school. The suspect’s identity was not made public.

The suspect’s identity was not made public. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

The two officials could not be named because they were not authorised to discuss ongoing investigations.

“We didn’t see this coming,” Conflans resident Remi Tell said on CNews TV station. He described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in January 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial opened, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression. Exactly three weeks ago, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing, outside the newspaper’s former offices, two people who suffered non life-threatening injuries. The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

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Categories: Charlie Hebdo, Conflans-Saint-Honorine, France, Islam's Prophet Muhammad, Macron, News

Pope Francis apologises for having to be socially distant from flock

Pope Francis apologised to the faithful for not being able to greet them and shake their hands as Italy posted a record spike in coronavirus infections that is threatening to once again spiral out of control.

Instead of wading into the crowd to embrace the sick and kiss babies during his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Francis walked in through a back door directly onto the stage to begin his catechism lesson.

At 83 and with part of a lung removed when he was in his 20s due to illness, the pope would be at high-risk for Covid-19 complications.

And yet he has been reluctant to wear a face mask and appeared without one again on Wednesday, even though many of his entourage and all of the Swiss Guards were using them.

He told the crowd on Wednesday: “I would like to come down as usual and get close to you to greet you, but with new prescriptions, we would better keep our distances.”

Francis often seems out of breath and speaks in a whisper because of his lung condition, suggesting that wearing a mask might be particularly uncomfortable for him.

This week, four Swiss Guards tested positive for Covid-19 and were in isolation.

All told there have been 19 cases in the Vatican, and the tiny city state amended its mask mandate last week to conform to that of Italy to require them indoors and out.

Italy is seeing a sharp resurgence in Covid-19 cases, with the Lazio region around the Vatican among the worst-hit in this new wave of the pandemic, with more people in the hospital than any other region.

On Wednesday, the country as a whole recorded its single biggest single-day jump in infections since the start of the outbreak, adding another 7,332 cases.

Public health officials are warning that hospitals are starting to fill up and Italy’s contact-tracing system is starting to crumble under the weight of the new infections.

“No health system is able to do contact tracing for more than a few thousand infections,” said virologist Andrea Crisanti, who as a regional adviser was credited with helping to keep Veneto’s infections down during the peak of Italy’s outbreak with aggressive testing and tracing.

Speaking to RAI TG24 on Wednesday, Dr Crisanti said the spike threatened to create a “vicious circle” of too many infections to trace, allowing the virus to spread uncontrolled.

He suggested that a Christmastime lockdown would help stop the chain of transmission and give enough breathing room to “reset” the contact tracing system.


Read more: Terrorists look for different targets as Coronavirus cuts crowds, says MI5 chief

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Categories: Coronavirus, Faithful, infections, Italy, News, Pope Francis

Racist spat and shouted “F****** P*** sl*t” at Muslim woman at traffic lights

A racist driver spat at and shouted “f****** P*** sl*t” at a Muslim woman who wears the hijab when at a set of traffic lights in central London.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, and wishing to remain anonymous, the woman described how the hostility from the driver began before the racist and misogynistic abuse took place, stating that the male driver had swerved towards her vehicle, shouting obscenities at her, before overtaking her on repeated occasions.

The racist incident occurred on the afternoon of October 8.

She felt that the man was following them, adding to her anxiety as her young child was also present and that when he directed his spit, her window had been open.

After expressing frustration at the time taken to report the Islamophobic hate crime to the Metropolitan Police on 101, Tell MAMA made a report on her behalf, and an investigation is ongoing.

She described the perpetrator as a bearded white male in his mid-to-late fifties who drove a white Mercedes van.

Tell MAMA has long-documented the intersection between anti-Muslim hatred, Islamophobia, and misogyny, in news articles and research reports, that also connect racialised and gendered stereotypes about the religious identities of Muslim women.

In the first six months of 2019, 5 per cent of verified reports to Tell MAMA took place on roads or highways.

The latest Home Office bulletin on hate crime in England and Wales reveals a sharp rise in racist hate crime, accounting for 72 per cent of offences, up 6 per cent on the previous recording cycle.

The bulletin noted, “The increases seen in June and July 2020 were likely to be related to the Black Lives Matters protests and far-right groups counter-protests.”

Religious hate crime fell by 6 per cent, but the bulletin excludes data from Greater Manchester Police and Nottinghamshire Police. Of the figures available, half of the religiously aggravated offences (against the perceived targeted faith group) targeted Muslims (3,089), as almost one-in-five offences targeted Jewish people (1,205), with 7 per cent of offences targeting those of ‘Other’ faith, as 3 per cent (202 incidents) targeted Sikh communities.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.

 

The post Racist spat and shouted “F****** P*** sl*t” at Muslim woman at traffic lights appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Hijab, London, Metropolitan Police, News

Terrorists look for different targets as coronavirus cuts crowds, new MI5 boss warns

Terrorists are hunting for fresh targets because there are fewer crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic, the new boss of MI5 has warned.

Director general Ken McCallum said the security service has been “rapidly adapting” how it works to keep the country safe during the outbreak as well as helping research efforts in combatting the virus and trying to protect work on the vaccine from potential interference.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday for the first time since taking on the top role in April, he said: “I stepped into this role at the height of the Covid lockdown, and for MI5 just like everyone else, 2020 has been dominated by the pandemic.

“We’ve sought where we can to help on Covid itself – advising on the safe construction of Nightingale hospitals; repurposing research originally done on toxic chemicals to help understand how Covid in droplets might disperse in certain environments; offering our skills in data analytics and modelling; simply allowing medically-qualified MI5 officers to step away from their duties here and directly support our NHS.

“And, crucially, on the vaccine, we’ve been working to protect the integrity of UK research.

“Our larger task has been rapidly adapting how we perform our core role of keeping the UK safe.

“The big shifts in everyone’s lives – reduced travel, more online, and the rest – mean shifts in how our adversaries are operating.

“Fewer crowds mean terrorists look at different targets; online living means more opportunities for cyber hackers; and so on.

“Equally, 2020 has demanded shifts in how MI5 itself has to operate; you wouldn’t expect me to get into detail, but common sense will tell you that covert surveillance is not straightforward on near-empty streets.”

Mr McCallum, who is in his forties, became the youngest ever director general when he took over from Sir Andrew Parker, who retired after leading the organisation since 2013.

The maths degree graduate, who grew up in Glasgow, has been the deputy director general since April 2017 and has 25 years of experience at MI5 including work on Northern Ireland-related terrorism, Islamist extremism and cyber security.

His career has seen him take charge of the service’s response to the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal in the Salisbury nerve agent attack as well as leading the response to the 2017 terror attacks and taking charge of counter terrorism investigations and risk management surrounding the 2012 London Olympics.


Read more: Osama Bin Laden’s London Spokesperson Cannot Simply Walk into the U.K.

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Categories: COVID, Ken McCallum, MI5, News, Sergei Skripal, Surveillance, Terrorists

‘Kill All N******’: violent, racist graffiti appears on bus stop in Leeds

Violent, racist graffiti calling for the murder of black people appeared on a Leeds bus stop over the weekend.

A member of the public spotted the racist graffiti which included the statements “Kill all n******,” “F*** BLM,” and a Nazi swastika on a bus stop in the Selby Rd area of the city.

They reported the graffiti to West Yorkshire Police and to Tell MAMA, and consented to have the information shared anonymously.

Weeks earlier, Tell MAMA reported how a racist targeted a Muslim family in Leeds, coughing on them and saying “there you go” before walking off, on September 25.

The discovery of the shocking racist graffiti coincides with the launch of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which aims is to bring people together in solidarity against hate crime in all its forms, and Tell MAMA is proud to support the cause and stand against all forms of racism, hatred, and bigotry.

Members of the public can submit hate crime reports online through True Vision, or in some cases, forces like Police Scotland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Metropolitan Police use their own online reporting forms. To find your nearest police force, use the Police.UK website.

Anonymous crime reports can be made to Crimestoppers online or over the phone on 0800 555 111.

Third-party support services like Tell MAMA, can report incidents to the police or offer their own confidential support, for individuals and witnesses, and in non-criminal matters like discrimination.

A list of third-party services which support a range of communities is available here.

In an emergency dial 999 and in a non-emergencies, dial 101.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Black Lives Matter, Leeds, News, West Yorkshire Police

European Parliament member in Greek court for criminal trial

A member of the European Parliament has appeared in court in Greece after being convicted of being a leading member of a criminal organisation along with members of the far-right Golden Dawn party.

Ioannis Lagos, who faces up to 15 years in prison, travelled from Brussels to Athens to attend the sentencing hearings. He made a formal request for the three judges trying the case to be replaced.

Lagos told the court: “I believe that there is a prevailing bias against the defendants and that the judges involved in the case came under direct and indirect pressure from the political establishment.”

Lagos and 17 other former Greek parliament members from Golden Dawn were convicted last week of leading a criminal organisation, or simple membership, and face sentences of between five and 15 years in prison.

Dozens of other Golden Dawn members and associates were also convicted of numerous offences, from murder and violent assaults against immigrants to perjury.

Presiding judge Maria Lepenioti said mitigating circumstances would be granted to four former MPs and 10 other convicted members on grounds of age, expressions of remorse, and lack of prior convictions. Leniency was not recognised for Lagos or six other former parliament members considered to be leaders of the organisation.

Golden Dawn was founded as a Neo-Nazi group in the 1980s but saw a surge in popularity during the recent financial crisis, gaining parliamentary representation between 2012 and 2019.

The five-year trial was launched following the 2013 murder of rap singer and left-wing activist Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn supporter.

Hundreds of protesters, many from left-wing groups and labour unions, gathered outside the court and chanted “smash the fascists in every neighbourhood”.

Police banned a rally planned by supporters of Golden Dawn. Sentences are expected to be announced later on Monday unless the judges are replaced.


Read more: Manchester bomb plotter held in jail within extremism separation unit

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Categories: European Parliament Member, far right extremism, Golden Dawn, Greece, Ioannis Lagos, News