Malaysia searches Chinese ship suspected of looting WWII wrecks

Above, the Chinese vessel anchored near Tanjung Siang on the waters of the Malaysia’s Johor state after its crew was detained on suspicion of looting two British World War II shipwrecks. (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency/AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2023
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Malaysia searches Chinese ship suspected of looting WWII wrecks

  • Officers discover unexploded shells upon boarding the Chinese-registered vessel
  • Vessel from the city of Fuzhou had a crew of 32 comprising mostly Chinese nationals

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s coast guard said on Tuesday authorities were questioning the crew of a Chinese vessel detained on suspicion of looting two British World War II shipwrecks.
Officers discovered unexploded shells upon boarding the Chinese-registered vessel, which was detained for illegal anchorage at the weekend, said Nurul Hizam Zakaria, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency chief in Johor state.
“Our investigation is now directed to where these cannon shells originated from. Right now, we have officers from multi-agencies searching the big ship,” he said.
Nurul Hizam said the vessel from the city of Fuzhou had a crew of 32 comprising 21 Chinese nationals, 10 Bangladeshis and one Malaysian, some of whom were in coast guard custody for questioning.
“This case also involves the discovery of explosives,” he said.
China’s foreign affairs ministry said the Chinese embassy in Malaysia was in close communication with local authorities “to understand the situation.”
It asked Malaysia to handle the case “fairly and in accordance with the law.” Beijing also asked Malaysia to protect the rights and safety of Chinese citizens.
A senior Malaysian maritime official said on condition of anonymity that the pieces of metal and shells could have originated from two sunken British warships.
More than 800 British sailors were killed when the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were torpedoed by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea.
The attack on December 10, 1941, happened three days after Japan attacked the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Photos and a video shared by the Malaysian coast guard showed large pieces of corroded metal and shells, as well as a large crane and gas torches used to cut metal on board the ship.
The shells could also be linked to the discovery of unexploded World War II-era ordnance at a jetty in Johor on May 19, the maritime agency said in a statement Monday.
Nurul Hizam said the maritime agency would not tolerate any form of illegal salvage activities in Malaysian waters.
“Our national treasure must be protected and preserved,” he said, describing looting as “an uncivilized act.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defense condemned the “desecration” of maritime military graves after reports that scavengers had targeted two WWII wrecks, the BBC said Saturday.
Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper reported in recent weeks that illegal salvage operators had targeted high-grade aluminum and brass fixtures from the two British warships.


British man charged after allegedly joining Syrian terror group

Updated 4 sec ago
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British man charged after allegedly joining Syrian terror group

LONDON: A British man who allegedly travelled to Syria to fight for the Jaish Al-Fatah group in Syria has been charged with terrorism offences, the Metropolitan Police said on Saturday.

Isa Giga was arrested after arriving in London aboard a flight from Turkey on Thursday.

He was due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday. He is suspected of traveling to commit acts of terrorism.

“We have been clear for some time now that should anyone return to the UK whom we suspect of being involved in any terrorist-related activity overseas, then they can expect to be thoroughly investigated,” Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the force’s Counter Terrorism Command told the BBC.

“We work very closely with other partners and agencies here in the UK and overseas in order to do this and help keep the public safe.”


A mob in Pakistan burns down a house and beats a Christian over alleged desecration of Qur’an

Updated 25 May 2024
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A mob in Pakistan burns down a house and beats a Christian over alleged desecration of Qur’an

  • The incident occurred Saturday in the Mujahid Colony residential area in Sargodha
  • Police quickly responded and saved the lives of the two men

LAHORE: Hundreds of Muslims in eastern Pakistan went on a rampage over allegations that a Christian man had desecrated the pages of Islam’s holy book, ransacking and burning his house and beating him before police officers rescued the man and his father, officials said.
The incident occurred Saturday in the Mujahid Colony residential area in Sargodha, a city in Punjab province, said district police chief Ijaz Malhi. He said police quickly responded and saved the lives of the two men.
Malhi said the situation was under control and officers were investigating the allegations.
The incident brought back memories of one of the worst attacks on Christians in Pakistan in August 2023, when angry mobs burned churches and attacked dozens in Jaranwala, a district in Punjab province. Muslim residents claimed they saw a Christian and his friend tearing out pages from a Qur’an and throwing them on the ground. No one was killed. In 2009, six Christians were killed and some 60 homes burned down in the district of Gojra in Punjab following allegations of insults to Islam.
Malhi said police on Saturday dispersed the crowds and were also seeking help from religious scholars to defuse tensions. The Punjab government condemned the attack.
The man’s small shoemaking factory was also burned down, Malhi said.
Blasphemy accusations are common in Pakistan.
Under the country’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While no one has been executed for blasphemy, often just an accusation can cause riots and incite mobs to violence, lynching and killings.


More than 10,000 people reach UK on small boats since January

Updated 25 May 2024
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More than 10,000 people reach UK on small boats since January

  • The latest numbers on a government website showed 10,170 arrived between January and May 25
  • The plan has been bogged down by legal obstacles for more than two years

LONDON: More than 10,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Britain in small boats so far this year, updated government data showed on Saturday, underlining a key challenge facing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a July 4 national election.
The number of people landing on England’s southern beaches after making the dangerous Channel crossing fell by a third in 2023, but the latest numbers on a government website showed 10,170 arrived between January and May 25, up from 7,395 over the same period last year.
Sunak, who announced the election date on Wednesday, said later this week that asylum seekers who come to Britain illegally would not be deported to Rwanda before the vote — casting doubt on one of his Conservative Party’s flagship policies.
The plan has been bogged down by legal obstacles for more than two years, and the opposition Labour Party, which is about 20 points ahead in opinion polls and seen on track to end 14 years of Conservative rule, has promised to scrap the policy if it wins the election.
Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said Sunak’s government had not done enough to tackle the issue.
“Because all the government’s efforts are now focused on getting a few hundred people flown to Rwanda, they have lost sight of the thousands more who are crossing the Channel every month,” Kinnock said in a statement.
Labour has said if elected it would create a Border Security Command that would bring together staff from the police, the domestic intelligence agency and prosecutors to work with international agencies to stop people smuggling.


Supporters, opponents of Tehran clash in London

Updated 25 May 2024
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Supporters, opponents of Tehran clash in London

  • Event to mark death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi descends into violence
  • 4 injured, 1 arrested: Metropolitan Police

LONDON: Clashes in London between supporters and opponents of Iran’s government on Friday left four people with injuries, Sky News reported on Saturday.

One person was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder following the clashes.

Metropolitan Police officers were called to the scene at about 6 p.m. following reports of violence.

Pro-Tehran demonstrators had held an event to mark the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last week.

Outside the venue, anti-Tehran protesters held a counter-demonstration, and clashes broke out between the two sides.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said four people were treated by paramedics for injuries. “Their injuries are not believed to be either life threatening or life changing,” the spokesperson added.

“Further inquiries will now follow to establish what further offences took place and to identify those involved.”


G7 says will try to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine

Updated 25 May 2024
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G7 says will try to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine

STRESA: The G7 will explore ways of using the future income from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine, finance chiefs from the Group of Seven industrial democracies said on Saturday, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.
The G7 froze some $300 billion of Russian assets shortly after Moscow invaded its neighbor in February 2022.
“We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine,” the draft statement said.
The statement will not undergo significant changes before a final version to be released later on Saturday, a G7 source said.