|NORWAY ATTACK TOLL
MOUNTS TO 91
OSLO (AFP) – Twin shooting and
bomb attacks left at least 91 dead in western Europe’s
deadliest carnage since the 2004 Madrid bombings as a
Norwegian gunman opened fire at a youth camp and a bomb tore
through central Oslo.
The suspect was a 32-year-old Norwegian who posted
anti-Muslim rhetoric online, police commissioner Sveinung
Sponheim told the NRK television channel, but added: “It’s
too early to say if this was a motive behind the act.”
Norwegian media named him as Anders Behring Breivik, but
police refused to confirm the information.
Police voiced fears that the toll could rise as they
searched for victims of the shootings at a summer school
meeting organised by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s
ruling Labour Party on Utoeya, an island outside the
Security was meanwhile tightened across potential target
sites in the capital, police said Saturday, but they lifted
an advisory that had urged residents to stay home.
“We have confirmation that at least 90 people are dead. We
do not exclude a higher toll,” police spokesman Are Frykholm
told AFP, speaking of the shooting spree on the island.
Police had earlier confirmed that seven people were killed
when a powerful bomb ripped through central Oslo – where the
prime minister’s office and several government buildings are
located – and nine were critically injured.
According to the TV2 channel, the arrested suspect has links
to right-wing extremists and possessed two weapons
registered in his name.
Other Norwegian media reported that he described himself on
his Facebook page as “conservative”, “Christian”, and
interested in hunting and computer games like World of
Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2.
Prime Minister Stoltenberg said Norway, one of Europe’s most
peaceful countries, would not be intimidated.
“People have lived through a nightmare that very few of us
can imagine,” he said. “The coming days will show who is
responsible and what kind of punishment they will get.
“The message to whoever attacked us, the message from all of
Norway is that you will not destroy us, you will not destroy
our democracy and our ideals for a better world.”
Western leaders denounced the attacks and vowed solidarity
with NATO member Norway, which has forces in Afghanistan and
is participating in air strikes in Libya.
Stoltenberg had been due to give a speech on Saturday to the
560 people attending the youth camp on the island.
Witnesses described scenes of panic and horror after the
gunman, who police said was wearing a police uniform but had
never worked for the police force, opened fire on the youth
The attacks were the worst in western Europe since the 2004
train bombings in Madrid, which left 191 dead and nearly
|Australian MP charged with shoplifting
SYDNEY (AFP) – An Australian lawmaker known for
lampooning the government by dancing in parliament has been
charged with shoplifting and assaulting a security guard,
but has vowed to fight the allegations.
Conservative MP Mary Jo Fisher is said to have stolen
groceries worth almost Aus$100 ($108) from a supermarket
last December and pushed a female security officer who tried
to stop her leaving the car park.
“In connection with an incident on December 15, 2010, the SA
(South Australia State) police charged me on two matters,”
she said in a statement released late Friday.
“I reject the charges and will vigorously defend them.”
Liberal party colleagues said she had been suffering from
depression and had a panic attack in the supermarket when
she realised she didn’t have enough money for the groceries.
The court hearing is on September 1.
Fisher shot to national fame in March when she ridiculed the
government’s climate change policies by doing a well-known
children’s dance, the “Hokey Pokey” in parliament. Footage
of the incident went viral on the internet.
|Arrest of ‘Pakistani agent’ long
NEW DELHI (AFP) – The arrest of a man accused of acting
as a Pakistani government agent in the United States “was
long overdue” India’s home secretary said on Saturday,
according to a report.
Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, a US citizen detained on Tuesday, is
suspected of links to a decades-long effort that allegedly
funnelled millions of dollars to Washington to lobby US
politicians on behalf of Kashmiri causes.
Commenting on Fai’s arrest, India’s Home Secretary R.K.
Singh said: “Yes, his arrest was long overdue,” the Press
Trust of India reported.
Fai has been a prominent figure in the politics of Indian
Kashmir, racked by a more than two-decade insurgency against
New Delhi’s rule.
Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan but both
countries claim the Himalayan territory in full.
The US Justice Department said Fai and Zaheer Ahmad, 63, a
US citizen and a resident of Pakistan, face five years in
prison if found guilty.
The US complaint alleges Fai and Ahmad conspired illegally
as Pakistani agents, falsifying and concealing material
facts that they had a duty to disclose in dealings with the
United States government.
The allegations, which come amid increasingly strained ties
between the United States and Pakistan, centre on the
Kashmiri American Council (KAC), a Washington-based group
founded in 1990.
“We had a fair degree of suspicion that the money he (Fai)
used to get was given by the agencies in Pakistan,” Singh
said on the sidelines of a regional security conference in
the Bhutanese capital Thimpu.
The KAC is suspected of being run by Pakistan’s powerful
military intelligence service, the Inter-Services
Intelligence Agency (ISI).
|Asylum seeker cuts throat in Aussie
SYDNEY (AFP) – An asylum seeker cut his throat and dozens
more were on hunger strike Saturday at a northern Australian
detention centre, refugee activists said, taking immigration
protests into their fourth day.
Two men had cut themselves, “one on his arm and one on his
throat”, at the remote Scherger detention centre in northern
Queensland state, said refugee activist Pamela Curr from the
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
They were among 80 men from Afghanistan’s Hazara minority on
hunger strike at the centre, about 2,000 kilometres (1,250
miles) from Brisbane, some of whom hadn’t eaten or had water
for more than 48 hours, said Curr.
“Two men this morning cut themselves, one cut his arms and
one cut his throat,” said the activist, who has been in
constant contact via telephone with the men.
“There are 80 men sitting out there who are seriously
considering killing themselves,” she told AFP.
Immigration officials said there were about 50 people
conducting a “peaceful” protest at the centre and there had
been some self-harm incidents, but described them as mild.
“Two clients did engage in acts of minor self harm. Their
injuries are minor and they are being closely monitored by
medical staff,” a spokesman said.
Curr said some of the men had been in detention for 22
months, “sitting and waiting quietly” while detainees rioted
at centres in Sydney and on Christmas Island, but they had
lost hope and were now using “the only tool they have”.
A number of the men had diabetes, kidney stones and high
blood pressure and were refusing their medication in
addition to food and water, and Curr warned it was only a
matter of time before there were dire consequences.
Two men were already unconscious and one had climbed a tree
and threatened to jump, she added.
“They are losing the capacity to make rational judgements,’
|Palestinians meet in Turkey to plan UN
RAMALLAH (AFP) – Palestinian diplomats are convening in
Turkey this weekend to finalise their strategy to bolster
support for Palestinian statehood at the UN General
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will meet his envoys from
missions around the world in Istanbul on Saturday and Sunday
to discuss ways to gain recognition from as many countries
as possible before the General Assembly session in
September, his diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khalidi told AFP.
Officials say they are not planning on unilaterally
proclaiming a state as they did in Algiers in 1988, nor will
they seek recognition from the UN as a whole.
Instead, they will continue to work for endorsement on a
state-by-state basis, while applying for membership in the
“There are 117 countries that recognise the Palestinian
state within its 1967 borders,” Abbas said during a visit to
Spain on Wednesday, pointing to countries in Latin America,
Europe, Africa and Asia.
“Whatever happens and whatever the reaction and the result
of our action at the UN, we know conclusively that we will
return to the negotiating table to reach the best solutions
with the Israelis,” he said in a speech in Arabic at the
headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean in
Faced with the promise of a Security Council veto by the
United States, which is pressing the Palestinians to resume
stalled negotiations with Israel instead, they are
considering a range of tactics, without showing their hand.
“We have many other options including in the General
Assembly,” Palestinian UN ambassador Riyad Mansour told
reporters in Ramallah on Wednesday.
“I will not tell you which option we will begin with,” he
said, saying details would be announced closer to the time.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said at a recent briefing
that even if there was overwhelming support in the General
Assembly, it was not possible for them to become a member
without Security Council approval.
“What you get out of the General Assembly is a resolution
that will upgrade your status at the UN from observer to a
non-member state,” he said.
Becoming a non-member state would allow the Palestinians to
join all the UN agencies, such as the World Health
Organisation (WHO), the child welfare agency UNICEF and the
world heritage body, UNESCO, Mansour said.
“We can become party to all treaties and conventions and
agreements, with full powers and obligations,” he added.