Boy, 13, killed in London sword attack: police

A police officer speaks to ambulance staff at a crime scene in Hainault, east of London on April 30, 2024 where a 36-year-old man wielding a sword was arrested. (AFP)
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Updated 30 April 2024
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Boy, 13, killed in London sword attack: police

  • The man used what appeared to be a Samurai-type sword in the Hainault district shortly before 7:00 am (0600 GMT)
  • The incident is not believed to be terror-related, police said

LONDON: A teenage boy died on Tuesday after a man wielding a sword stabbed the youth, two police and two other people, in a street attack in east London, police said.
The man used what appeared to be a Samurai-type sword in the Hainault district shortly before 7:00 am (0600 GMT).
Police said they arrested a 36-year-old man using Taser stun weapons and took him into custody. The incident is not believed to be terror-related, they said.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, from London’s Metropolitan Police, said all five victims were taken to hospital.
The two police officers were awaiting surgery for “significant” injuries, he added. But they, and those sustained by the two members of the public, were not believed to be life-threatening.
“It’s with great sadness that one of those injured in this incident, a 13-year-old boy, has died from their injuries,” he told reporters at the scene.
“He was taken to hospital after being stabbed and sadly died a short while after.”
Bell called the incident “truly horrific” and said specialist officers were supporting the boy’s family.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the stabbings “shocking.” “Such violence has no place on our streets,” he added in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“I’d like to thank the emergency services for their ongoing response, and pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery shown by police on the scene.”
Video footage and photographs posted on social media appeared to show a man in a yellow jumper on the streets near houses with the weapon.
Emergency service vehicles, including police, fire and ambulances, were seen behind cordons, including near the town’s underground railway station.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said she hid behind a window while the suspect was outside her home shouting “do you believe in God?” at police.
“We were very scared and trying to hide and not show ourselves through the window because he was standing right next to our house and he could have seen us if he looked up,” she added.
“We were very scared and we didn’t know what to do.”
Another witness said he saw two police chasing the man, shouting at him to put down the weapon.
Police in England, Scotland and Wales are not routinely armed but do carry Taser weapons to disable suspects.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “absolutely devastated” by the incident and was in close contact with the city police commissioner.
“The police offices and emergency services showed the best of our city — running toward danger to protect others and I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
Last week, Sunak criticized the mayor’s record on knife crime in the British capital.
According to official statistics, knife crime increased in London by 20 percent in 2023, with 14,577 offenses — one percent lower than pre-pandemic levels in the year to March 2020.
In England and Wales as a whole, there was a seven-percent increase in knife crime to 49,489 offenses, with most (29 percent) in metropolitan areas, the Official for National Statistics said.


Russian assassination plots against those supporting Ukraine uncovered in Europe, official says

Updated 6 sec ago
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Russian assassination plots against those supporting Ukraine uncovered in Europe, official says

The plots have sometimes involved recruiting common criminals in foreign countries to conduct the attacks
One major plot recently uncovered had targeted Armin Papperger, CEO of defense company Rheinmetall

WASHINGTON: Western intelligence agencies have uncovered Russian plots to carry out assassinations, arson and other sabotage in Europe against companies and people linked to support for Ukraine’s military — one of the most serious being a plan to kill the head of a German arms manufacturer, a Western government official said.
The plots have sometimes involved recruiting common criminals in foreign countries to conduct the attacks, said the official, who is familiar with the situation but not authorized to comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
One major plot recently uncovered had targeted Armin Papperger, CEO of defense company Rheinmetall, the official said.
The official declined to offer any details on other plots, which were first reported by CNN. The CNN report said the US informed Germany, whose security services were able to protect Papperger and foil the plot.
Rheinmetall is a major supplier of military technology and artillery rounds for Ukraine as it fights off Russian forces. The company last month opened an armored vehicle maintenance and repair facility in western Ukraine and also aims to start production inside the country.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson declined to comment on the alleged plot to kill Papperger but said, “Russia’s intensifying campaign of subversion is something that we are taking extremely seriously and have been intently focused on over the past few months.”
“The United States has been discussing this issue with our NATO allies, and we are actively working together to expose and disrupt these activities,” Watson added. “We have also been clear that Russia’s actions will not deter allies from continuing to support Ukraine.”
Neither Rheinmetall nor the German government would comment Friday on the reported plot against Papperger. The Interior Ministry can’t comment on “individual threat situations,” spokesperson Maximilian Kall said, but he added that more broadly, “we take the significantly increased threat from Russian aggression very seriously.”
“We know that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s regime wants above all to undermine our support for Ukraine in its defense against the Russian war of aggression, but the German government won’t be intimidated,” Kall said.
He noted that German security measures have increased significantly since 2022 and that “the threats range from espionage and sabotage, through cyberattacks, to state terrorism.”
European officials gathered for the NATO summit in Washington this week spoke of dealing with an escalation of “hybrid” attacks that they blame on Russia and its allies.
That includes what authorities called suspicious recent fires at industrial and commercial sites in Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, Germany and other nations, and charges that Russia-allied Belarus was sending large numbers of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa to the borders of Poland, Latvia and other countries belonging to NATO.
When asked at a news conference at the NATO summit Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he could not comment on the CNN report. He did note a widespread campaign by Russian security services to conduct “hostile actions” against NATO allies, including sabotage, cyberattacks and arson.
“These are not standalone instances. These are part of a pattern, part of an ongoing Russian campaign. And the purpose of this campaign is, of course, to intimidate NATO allies from supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
In April, German investigators arrested two German-Russian men on suspicion of espionage, one of them accused of agreeing to carry out attacks on potential targets, including US military facilities, in hopes of sabotaging aid for Ukraine.
Germany has become the second-biggest supplier of weapons to Ukraine after the United States since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed the report of a plan to kill Papperger. “All of this is again presented in the fake style, so such reports cannot be taken seriously,” he told reporters Friday.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Russian counterpart, Andrei Belousov, on Friday, their second call in less than a month, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh announced at a briefing Friday. The call was initiated by the Russian defense minister, Singh said.
She did not have further details to share, including whether the two leaders spoke about the accusations that Russia had attempted to assassinate top officials of Western defense firms producing weapons systems that are sent to Ukraine, but said “maintaining lines of communication is incredibly important right now.”

US keeps barring Chinese officials over rights

Updated 17 min 18 sec ago
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US keeps barring Chinese officials over rights

  • The State Department didn’t identify or give a number of those who would be denied visas
  • The US has kept up pressure on China, including by expanding restrictions on technology exports

WAHSINGTON: The United States said Friday it would keep denying visas to Chinese officials over human rights concerns in Xinjiang, Tibet and elsewhere, vowing accountability despite a thaw in tensions between the powers.
Unlike previous high-profile actions against Chinese officials, the State Department did not identify or give a number of those who would be denied visas or specify if additional people were being blacklisted.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that United States was restricting visas to current or former officials “for their involvement in repression of marginalized religious and ethnic communities.”
Beijing “has not lived up to its commitments to respect and protect human rights, as demonstrated by the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, the erosion of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, persistent human rights abuses in Tibet and transnational repression around the world,” he said in a statement.
He called on China to accept recommendations in the latest UN review of its rights record, including releasing citizens “it has arbitrarily and unjustly detained.”
Under previous president Donald Trump, the United States publicly named several officials who would be denied entry including Chen Quanguo, the architect of China’s hard-line policies in Tibet and then Xinjiang who has since retired.
Under President Joe Biden, the United States has kept up pressure on China, including by expanding restrictions on technology exports, but has also pursued dialogue to keep tensions in check.
The United States says that China is carrying out genocide against the mostly Muslim Uyghur people in Xinjiang, pointing to accounts of vast detention camps, allegations strongly rejected by Beijing.


UN says world population to peak at 10.3 billion in the 2080s

Updated 12 July 2024
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UN says world population to peak at 10.3 billion in the 2080s

  • Size of world’s population in 2100 will be six percent lower, or 700 million people fewer

NEW YORK: Earth’s population will peak in the mid-2080s at around 10.3 billion people, then drop slightly to a level much lower than anticipated a decade ago, the United Nations said.
The current population of 8.2 billion people will rise to that maximum over the next 60 years, then dip to 10.2 billion by the end of the century, says a report released Thursday entitled “World Population Prospects 2024.”
It said the size of the world’s population in 2100 will be six percent lower, or 700 million people fewer, than what was anticipated in June 2013.
“The demographic landscape has evolved greatly in recent years,” said Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
He said the unexpected population peak stems from several factors that include lower levels of fertility in some of the world’s largest countries, especially China.
He said this lower maximum will also come earlier than previously calculated and this is a hopeful sign as the world fights global warming: fewer humans accounting for less aggregate consumption would mean less pressure on the environment.
“However, slower population growth will not eliminate the need to reduce the average impact attributable to the activities of each individual person,” this official said.
More than a quarter, or 28 percent, of the world’s population now lives in one of 63 countries or areas where the population has already peaked, including China, Russia, Japan and Germany, the report said.
Nearly 50 other countries should join that group over the next 30 years, including Brazil, Iran and Turkiye.
But population growth will continue in more than 120 countries beyond 2054. These include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the United States, said the UN.
A rise in global life expectancy — interrupted by the Covid pandemic — has resumed, with an average of 73.3 years of longevity in 2024. It will average 77.4 years in 2054.
So the world’s population will get more and more gray. By the late 2070s, the number of people 65 or older is projected to be 2.2 billion, surpassing those under 18, the study predicts.


Four killed, nine hurt in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, governor says

Updated 12 July 2024
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Four killed, nine hurt in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, governor says

  • In the town of Myrnohrad, two people were killed and six were injured
  • A separate attack on an unnamed enterprise in the town of Kostiantynivka killed two civilians

KYIV: Russian shelling killed at least four people and injured nine others in Ukraine’s eastern frontline Donetsk region on Friday, the governor said.
In the town of Myrnohrad, two people were killed and six were injured in an attack that landed near an administrative building and a bus stop, Vadym Filashkin, the governor, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
A separate attack on an unnamed enterprise in the town of Kostiantynivka killed two civilians and injured three others, he said.
Images from the impact sites which he published alongside his post showed badly-damaged building facades and a bus with shattered windows. There was also a burnt car that appeared to have been thrown to the side by a blast.
Donetsk region, which Russian troops partially occupy, regularly comes under Russian shelling and airstrikes. Moscow denies targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure in its invasion of Ukraine, although thousands of people have been killed.


Kenya police chief quits after deadly protests

Updated 12 July 2024
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Kenya police chief quits after deadly protests

  • The announcement came a day after Ruto sacked almost his entire cabinet in the face of widespread public anger at his government
  • The attorney-general and all cabinet ministers, with the exception of Foreign Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, were axed

NAIROBI: Kenya’s police chief has quit following criticism over dozens of deaths during anti-government protests, the latest head to roll as President William Ruto struggles to contain the worst crisis of his near two-year rule.
Ruto has “accepted the resignation” of inspector general of police Japhet Koome, who has served in the role since November 2022, the presidency said, adding his deputy Douglas Kanja has been named acting chief.
The announcement came a day after Ruto sacked almost his entire cabinet in the face of widespread public anger at his government after largely peaceful demonstrations over proposed tax hikes descended into deadly mayhem.
The attorney-general and all cabinet ministers, with the exception of Foreign Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, were axed.
Some of the young Gen-Z Kenyans behind the demonstrations had called for Koome to go, with police accused by rights groups of using excessive force, and reports of abductions of some protesters.
IT specialist Cyrus Otieno, 27, said Koome “must be prosecuted for police brutality.”
“Someone must be held accountable.”
Ruto, who took office in September 2022, has taken a series of measures seeking to placate the demonstrators, including abandoning the finance bill that contained the deeply unpopular tax increases.
But the cabinet announcement, while welcomed by some, did not appease some young Kenyans frustrated with Ruto’s failure to deliver on his 2022 election promises to create jobs and boost their fortunes.
“We will be back on the streets until Ruto goes. He has wasted two years in office traveling and telling lies,” said Hyrence Mwangi, 25.
Initially peaceful, the protests sharply escalated when police fired at crowds who stormed parliament on June 25, ransacking the partly ablaze complex.
While large-scale street action has subsided, anger against the government has not, particularly toward the police, with rights groups saying that 39 people were killed in the demonstrations and more than 360 injured.
“When we first went to the streets, Ruto dismissed us as a bunch of hired goons and criminals, only to come later and start saying he will make changes,” said 27-year-old Jackson Rotich. “We can’t trust him.”
Law student Melisa Agufana, 24, welcomed the cabinet dismissal, saying she wanted to “thank the president for listening.”
She added that ministers had “wasted two years doing nothing apart from being driven around with our national flag.”
Analysts said the cabinet move offered the possibility of a fresh start, but warned of further risks.
“The challenge that Ruto now faces is forming a new cabinet that includes various vested interests, whilst simultaneously calming popular anger in the face of an explicitly leaderless movement,” Gabrielle Lynch, professor of comparative politics at the University of Warwick, told AFP.
Last week, Ruto announced sharp cuts to government spending, including travel and refurbishment costs, and said he would increase borrowing to pay for some services even as Kenya grapples with massive foreign debt of about $78 billion or about 70 percent of GDP.
The crisis led US-based Moody’s to downgrade Kenya’s debt rating further into junk territory, warning of a negative outlook, which will make borrowing even more expensive for the cash-strapped government.
Ruto said Thursday that he would “immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” without elaborating.
Media reports this week have been filled with speculation of a “national unity” government, possibly including the coalition headed by Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader defeated by Ruto in the 2022 vote.