Inmate attack on UK prison officer treated as terrorism

There has been a sharp increase in prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the past few years, sparking growing concerns that other inmates may become radicalized. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Inmate attack on UK prison officer treated as terrorism

  • Two prisoners wielding improvised bladed weapons slashed the officer’s head and neck in Thursday’s attack
  • Four other prison staff were injured as they stepped in and detained the attackers, and were taken to hospital alongside the original victim

LONDON: A knife attack on a British prison officer by two inmates wearing fake suicide belts is being treated as a terrorist attack, police said Friday.
Two prisoners wielding improvised bladed weapons slashed the officer’s head and neck in Thursday’s attack at the maximum security Whitemoor prison in eastern England.
Four other prison staff were injured as they stepped in and detained the attackers, and were taken to hospital alongside the original victim. All five officers have now been released.
One of the suspects was named by media as Brusthom Ziamani, 24, a follower of radical preacher Anjem Choudary who was convicted in 2015 of plotting to behead a British soldier.
The other suspect was reported to be a Muslim convert jailed for a violent offense.
“The matter is being treated as a terrorist attack and the investigation continues at pace,” said London’s Metropolitan Police, which leads on national counter-terrorism matters.
“The incident itself was quickly contained and dealt with by prison staff.
“From our enquiries thus far, there is nothing to suggest any continuing threat inside or outside of the prison system linked to yesterday’s incident.”
The suspects remain in prison and no arrests have been made, police said.
There has been a sharp increase in prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the past few years, sparking growing concerns that other inmates may become radicalized.
The government has trained almost 20,000 staff in extremism awareness training, and employs multi-faith chaplaincy teams in all prisons.
It also opened two Separation Centers where individuals considered to pose the biggest risk are kept away from the main prison population.


‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

Updated 22 January 2021

‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

  • A UN representative said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region

ADDIS ABABA: The UN says it has received “disturbing” reports of sexual violence and abuse in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region, including of individuals forced to rape members of their own family.
Pramila Patten, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region, including “a high number of alleged rapes” in the Tigrayan capital Mekele.
“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Patten said in a statement Thursday.
“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.”
Patten called on all parties involved in the hostilities to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced military operations in Tigray in early November, saying they came in response to attacks by the regional ruling party on federal army camps.
Abiy declared victory after federal forces entered the regional capital in late November, though leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) remain on the run and have vowed to fight on.
Thousands have died in the conflict, according to the International Crisis Group, though a communications blackout and media and humanitarian access restrictions have made it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.
In her statement Thursday, Patten noted that “medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.”
She called for full humanitarian access to Tigray, including camps for displaced people “and refugee camps where new arrivals have allegedly reported cases of sexual violence.”
She voiced concern about “more than 5,000 Eritrean refugees in and around the area of Shire living in dire conditions, many of them reportedly sleeping in an open field with no water or food, as well as the more than 59,000 Ethiopians who have fled the country into neighboring Sudan.”
The caretaker administration in Tigray did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month state television broadcast footage of a meeting during which an unidentified man in a military uniform expressed concern about rapes in Mekele.
“Why are women being raped in Mekele city?” the man said.
“It wouldn’t be shocking had it been happening during the war, because it is not manageable so it could be expected. But at this moment while federal police and local police are back in town, it is still happening.”