Finnish police ‘quite certain’ about attacker’s identity: local media

TURKU: Police shot and wounded a suspect after a stabbing spree in which a man killed two people and wounded six others in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday (Aug 18). Finnish police patrol in front of the Cenral Railway Station in Helsinki on Aug 18, 2017. (Photo: AFP/Linda Manner) Within hours the force had announced increased police patrols across the country. "There are eight victims in the stabbing. Two dead and six injured," Turku police tweeted after the assault in a market square. A hospital official told journalists all the victims were adults. Police shot a suspect in the thigh minutes after the attack at another square nearby, arresting him and confiscating his knife. His identity has not yet been established, police said late on Friday, nor was the motive for the attack clear. Police described the suspect in custody as "a young man of foreign origin", providing no other details except to say they were collaborating with the Finnish Immigration Service. While security forces wrote on Twitter that police were "looking for other possible perpetrators", police told journalists it was likely there was only one attacker. Police assured Turku residents the city was safe on Friday evening. The stabbing spree comes with Europe on high alert a day after drivers slammed vehicles into pedestrians in two attacks in Spain, killing at least 14 people and injuring more…... [read more]

A convicted murderer in central Vietnam is being investigated for killing his wife while she was paying a conjugal visit to the prison he was being held in. A police report said that Nhu Van Duc, who is already serving 17 years for murder, was visited by his wife and two children on Tuesday. After sending his children away to buy water, he is alleged to have stabbed his wife to death before trying to take his own life. His children alerted the guards. It has remained unclear how Duc got the knife. Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported that he grabbed it from his wife, who brought it in for peeling fruit. Duc is receiving treatment at a hospital under police surveillance. Duc, 48, was convicted of murder in Ho Chi Minh City in 2014 for fatally stabbing his neighbor following an argument, according to Tuoi Tre. The prison in Binh Thuan and another in the northern province of Bac Giang are among the few that allow private reunions between male prisoners and their families in Vietnam.  Last October, the Ministry of Public Security said it was drafting a rule to allow all inmates to meet their spouses in private rooms. It is not clear if the latest death in Binh Thuan will force them to rethink the idea.... [read more]

The driver of the sport-utility vehicle (SUV), a 26-year-old Austrian of Bosnian origin known to police for domestic violence, was detained. Police said there was no reason to suspect any terrorist motive and they believed the man was suffering family problems. Eyewitnesses cited by the public broadcaster ORF said the vehicle had been traveling at about 100 kph (62 mph). ORF said no explosives had been found in the car. "We can now absolutely rule out an extremist, religious or political background," Josef Klamminger, head of the police force of the province of Styria, told reporters. "He has (previously) appeared ready to use violence," Klamminger said. The man also stabbed two people after jumping out of the crashed car. When asked whether the man had any psychological problems, a Graz police official, Kurt Kemeter, said: "Of course there would have been problems". He said the man, a truck driver who is married and has two children, gave himself up to the police after the incident. Three children were among the injured. Six people were in a critical condition, according to emergency services. More than 60 police, about 80 ambulances and a rescue helicopter were mobilized. Pictures on local media websites showed a green SUV with a severely damaged front and smashed broken lights, and a scarf hanging from it.... [read more]

Shortly after the arson attack on the tomb of biblical patriarch Joseph, Palestinian protesters threw stones over the border of the Gaza Strip at Israeli forces who fired back, killing two and wounding scores of others in the crowd, Palestinian medical officials said. The worst outbreak in bloodshed in months has killed at least 37 Palestinians, including attackers and children in assaults and confrontations, and seven Israelis in stabbings and other attacks on buses and in the streets. The latest round of violence has been partly fueled by Palestinian anger at what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, holy to both Muslims and Jews. Many Israelis fear it is building into a full Palestinian intifada or uprising while Palestinian leaders have said a Israeli security crackdown amounts to collective punishment that will provoke more violence. Israel's military said about 100 people converged on Joseph's tomb in the Palestinian city of Nablus and set parts of it ablaze before Palestinian security forces arrived and pushed them back. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack on the shrine, venerated for centuries by Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims, and ordered repairs and an investigation.... [read more]

Forty-one Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the recent street violence, which was in part triggered by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound. Israel says it is keeping the status quo at the holy compound, which is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples. The Palestinian dead include attackers wielding knives and protesters shot by Israeli forces as they threw rocks. The Israelis were killed in random attacks in the street or on buses. In the latest attack, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli border policeman at the Qalandia crossing in the West Bank, a police spokesman said. The attacker was initially shot and wounded in the leg. During a follow-up body search, the attacker drew a second knife and tried to stab another officer, after which he was shot dead, the spokesman said. In East Jerusalem and Hebron, two Palestinians who also attempted knife attacks were killed and another was seriously wounded, Israeli authorities said. One Israeli border policewoman was lightly wounded. A fourth Palestinian was shot dead, also in Hebron, but there were conflicting reports about the incident. Israel's military said the Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli civilian, who was carrying a gun and shot the attacker dead. A Palestinian man told Reuters that his daughter, a high school student, had seen the shooting and said it happened when Jewish settlers attacked an unarmed Palestinian. The United States has stepped…... [read more]

Speaking to reporters after about four hours of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kerry said he thought there were steps that could reduce the violence and said they needed to be discussed with Jordanian and Palestinian officials. "I would characterize that conversation as one that gave me a cautious measure of optimism that there may be ... a way to defuse the situation and begin to find a way forward," Kerry told reporters after he met Netanyahu at a Berlin hotel. "If parties want to try, and I believe they do, want to move to a de-escalation, there are a set of choices that are available," he told a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. At a United Nations Security Council meeting on October 22, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said peace could only be achieved through direct talks between the parties. He called on the international community to urge Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept an invitation from Netanyahu to meet. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said he would never dismiss the possibility of a meeting if it could help de-escalate the violence. But he added that Netanyahu would first have to "end his own incitement" and withdraw Israeli troops from the occupied Palestinian territories. Nine Israelis have been killed in Palestinian stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks since the start of October. Forty-nine Palestinians, including 25 assailants, among them children, have been killed in attacks and during anti-Israeli protests. Among the causes of the turmoil…... [read more]

Meeting Obama for the first time since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu said he backed a vision of “two states for two peoples” but maintained that any Palestinian state must be demilitarized and recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, a condition Palestinians have rejected. Patching up relations could help smooth the way for a new 10-year US military aid package, which Obama told Netanyahu he wanted to get a “head start” on negotiating. Israel, Washington’s chief Middle East ally, is seeking a record US$5 billion a year, according to US congressional sources. Obama and Netanyahu, who have a history of testy White House encounters, showed no outward sign of tension, looking cordial and businesslike as they held their first face-to-face talks in 13 months. The meeting was clouded by an ongoing wave of Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks that have Israelis on edge at a time when Obama has concluded that a peace deal is beyond reach during the final 14 months of his presidency. Obama condemned the latest wave of Palestinian violence and backed Israel’s right to defend itself but said he wanted to hear Netanyahu’s ideas for lowering tensions and “how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met.”... [read more]

The State Department said Kerry will travel to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah on a trip that will also include a stop in the United Arab Emirates to discuss the Syrian conflict. Kerry last met with Netanyahu in Berlin in October to try to end a spate of bloodshed and stop what Washington regarded as provocative statements by Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the management of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque. With the latest visit, Kerry hopes to move things in a "more positive direction" and prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the official said. The talks will explore a "variety of ideas" on how to ease tensions, the official said without elaborating. The official said violence had abated somewhat over the course of a few weeks but picked up again in recent days, with the killing of five people in attacks in Tel Aviv and in the occupied West Bank. An American was among the dead. The official said it was not Kerry's intention to try to urge the sides to resume peace talks on a two-state solution. "There is no agreement to be reached between the parties now," the official said, adding: "There is nothing we're trying to get them to agree to, we're trying to encourage both of them to do the kind of things that will be helpful and in their interest and our interest in preserving stability." Kerry will urge the leaders to take concrete steps to restore calm, the official said. "We want to see…... [read more]

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1 km (0.62 mile) inside Syria and warned of "serious consequences" for what he termed a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists". "We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today," Putin said, as Russian and Turkish shares fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies. In a letter to the UN Security Council, Turkey said it had shot down the jet while in Turkish air space. Along with a second plane, the aircraft had flown more than a mile into Turkey for 17 seconds, despite being warned 10 times in five minutes while approaching to change direction, the letter said. "Nobody should doubt that we made our best efforts to avoid this latest incident. But everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders," Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara. In condemnation of Russian air strikes in Syria, during which Turkish air space has been violated several times in recent weeks, Erdogan said that only Turkey's "cool-headedness" had prevented worse incidents in the past. Each country summoned a diplomatic representative of the other. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled a visit to Turkey due on Wednesday and the defense ministry said it was preparing measures to respond to such incidents. US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, meeting in Washington, urged against an escalation, while NATO Secretary-General Jens…... [read more]

The Russian Defence Ministry said one of its warships, the destroyer Smetlivy, had been forced to fire the warning shots on December 13 morning and that it had summoned the Turkish military attache over the incident. "The Turkish military diplomat was given a tough explanation about the potentially disastrous consequences from Ankara's reckless actions towards Russia's military contingent fighting against international terrorism in Syria," the Defence Ministry said in a statement. "In particular, our deep concerns about more Turkish provocations towards the Russian destroyer Smetlivy were conveyed." Earlier on December 13, the ministry said that the Turkish fishing vessel failed to respond to Smetlivy's warnings and changed course sharply only after shots were fired before passing within just over 500 meters of the warship. "Only by luck was tragedy avoided," the ministry said. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was in Rome for talks on Libya, said Ankara was investigating the matter and would make a statement once it had more information. He also reiterated Turkey's position that it wanted to resolve its difficulties with Russia. "We want to solve the tension with dialogue," he said, in comments broadcast by TRT Turk. The incident is likely to heighten tensions between the two nations who are seriously at odds over Syria and the Turkish shooting down of a Russian military jet last month. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called the downing of the plane a "stab in the back", has since imposed economic sanctions on Turkey as a retaliatory measure. Earlier…... [read more]

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