Friday , October 20 2017

Germany probes 64 suspects in military – French police officer wounded by knife-wielding attacker

BERLIN, Aug 31, (Agencies): Germany’s military counter-intelligence agency is investigating 64 suspected “extremist Islamists” working for the armed forces, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. The 64 could include civilian as well as uniformed employees, the spokesman added. People judged to be “extremist Islamists” are not permitted to work for the military. Between 2007 and 2016, 30 “extremist Islamists” went to Syria or Iraq after being employed in the armed forces, the spokesman said. Nineteen people were discharged from the forces for being “extremist Islamists” during that period. Germans have been unsettled by a series of violent attacks on civilians, two of which were claimed by Islamic State. The agency is currently only allowed to run checks on people who already work in the armed forces. The cabinet on Wednesday approved proposals to change the law to permit such checks to be made on applicants to join. On Sunday Welt am Sonntag newspaper said a draft document justifying the changes said there were indications Islamists were trying to get into the military for training. The armed forces employ 250,000 people.

German police said a misunderstanding may have led to a security breach that prompted the evacuation of Frankfurt airport’s Terminal 1 and caused delays and flight cancellations at Europe’s fourth largest airport on Wednesday. Police were questioning a female suspect who had entered into the departure gate area at Frankfurt, a major hub for international travel and home to Lufthansa, without completing the security check, a spokeswoman for the federal force told Reuters. “Based on initial findings of the questioning, it looks like this may have just been an accident,” she said, declining to provide further details until the interrogation was completed. She also said police did not find any suspicious items in the departure area following the evacuation. The security breach interrupted flight operations, delaying departures and forcing some planes to divert to other German airports instead. Airport operator Fraport said around 100 flights were cancelled due to the evacuation. Operations at the terminal resumed at 1030 GMT, it said, adding that all passengers were asked to go through the security check again.

French officials say that a police officer in the southern city of Toulouse has been wounded by a knifewielding assailant. Police spokesman David Delattre said the attack took place Tuesday afternoon when a person entered the Rempart Saint-Etienne police station and attacked the officer with a knife. Delattre said the officer had a minor neck injury and added that the attacker had been arrested, but he couldn’t elaborate further on the cause of the attack or the identity of either individual. An Interior Ministry official, who wasn’t authorized to speak to the media so spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it’s too soon to say if the “attack was of a terrorist nature,” but the attacker was known to local authorities for having psychological issues.

Kazakhstan said Wednesday it had arrested 21 members of radical groups plotting terror attacks in public places, after two deadly attacks that fuelled fears of rising extremism. The security service of mainly Muslim Kazakhstan said in a statement that it had arrested 21 people from three groups after detaining them in two western regions bordering Russia. The ex-Soviet country said it had foiled “attacks on law enforcement officers and also acts of terrorism in crowded public places” and had confiscated weapons, ammunition and TNT as well as “extremist” texts and symbols. This summer Kazakhstan was shaken by two attacks with multiple victims that damaged its reputation for stability and led to concerns that home-grown radicalism could be on the rise in the oil-rich Central Asian republic. On July 18, a gunman attacked a police station and a building used by the security services in the financial capital of Almaty, leaving six dead, with the authorities linking the gunman to followers of the ultra-conservative Salafistrain of Islam.

China on Wednesday advised its citizens in Kyrgyzstan to avoid going outside or visiting crowded places, after a suspected suicide car bomber rammed the gates of the Chinese embassy in its capital of Bishkek. The attacker died and at least three people were wounded in the Tuesday blast. Officials from both countries described the assault as a terrorist act. In a short statement on its website, China’s Foreign Ministry said the government had asked Kyrgyzstan to take steps to protect Chinese nationals and organisations and bring those behind the attack to justice. The embassy is advising people to exercise caution about visiting Kyrgyzstan and those who are there should be on alert, the ministry said. “(We) remind Chinese citizens and organisations in Kyrgyzstan to be on high alert, increase necessary security measures and response preparations, go out as little as possible and not go to crowded places,” it said.

A Pakistani national in Romania has been declared persona non grata for allegedly spreading “jihadist propaganda” in online forums and will be expelled from the country, authorities said Wednesday. The suspect, who entered the European Union country illegally in late 2015, is “in police custody and proceedings are under way to send him back (to Pakistan),” an immigration official dealing with the case told AFP. The man will be banned from reentering Romania for 10 years, the official added. In a statement released late Tuesday, secret service officials said the man had drawn attention after spreading “online propaganda backing several terrorist groups active in his home region, supporting Islamist extremism, and calling for global jihad”. He is also accused of researching bomb-making instructions on the internet. The Romanian government is seeking to tighten its anti-terror legislation following deadly Islamist attacks in France and Belgium. On Monday, Romanian lawmakers introduced a parliamentary bill aimed at making it easier to expel foreign citizens suspected of extremist activities.

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