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Pedestrians injured in car collision near London museum



LONDON — British emergency services raced to London’s Natural History Museum after a car struck pedestrians Saturday outside the building. Police said a number of people were injured and one person was detained at the scene.

The crash happened at 2:20 p.m. on a day when the central London museum is usually teeming with pedestrians, including international tourists.

Photographs showed a dented silver car and a man being pinned to the ground outside the museum. It was not immediately clear if he was pinned down by police or others at the scene.

The London Ambulance Service was tending to the injured. There was no immediate statement on the number or severity of the injuries.

Shopkeepers in the immediate area were told to evacuate and police established a large security cordon around the area minutes after the incident.

Police said they are working to establish the circumstances of the crash and more details would be released later.
The Natural History Museum tweeted that there had been a “serious incident” outside the museum, which is located near the world famous Victoria and Albert Museum and other attractions.

Downing Street said British Prime Minister Theresa May was being briefed on the incident.

London’s official terrorist threat level has been set at “severe,” indicating an attack is highly likely.

There have been a series of terror attacks on London and Manchester this year, including vehicle attacks on pedestrians at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.


Gunman targets African migrants in Italy’s Macerata



AL JAZEERA — A gunman has injured six African migrants in the Italian city of Macerata in a series of drive-by shootings that appear to have been racially motivated.

The shooting took place on Saturday morning in the central Italian city. Italian state police said that at least one person was in serious condition.

A 28-year-old white Italian man, identified by police as Luca Traini, was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the shootings. A video posted on local media shows the suspect wearing an Italian flag around his neck at the time of his arrest.

Italian news agency Ansa reported Traini made a fascist salute when he was arrested.

The shootings started around 11am local time (10:00 GMT). Shots were fired at various locations in the city, including close to the train station.

Italian police told people to take shelter indoors on Twitter.

Anti-immigrant sentiment
The shootings took place days after the dismembered body of an 18-year-old Italian woman was found in two suitcases near Macerata. A Nigerian man has been arrested in connection with the woman’s death.

Italy will vote in a general election on March 4. Observers have warned that anti-migration rhetoric in the country has been mainstreamed.

“The expectations are now for [anti-migrant sentiments] to become a big issue,” Italian journalist Lorenzo Luzi told Al Jazeera from Ancona.

“The timing is so close [to the general elections] that it will become political sooner rather than later.”

Italian media reported that Traini ran as a candidate in local elections in Corridonia last year with the far-right Lega party.

Matteo Salvini, Lega’s leader, condemned Saturday’s shootings. He added that “out-of-control immigration” leads to social conflict.

The leader of Italy’s Democratic Party PD, Matteo Renzi, called for calm in a Facebook post.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that “hatred and violence will not be able to divide us”.

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Far-right German politician converts to Islam, quits AfD party



A leading politician from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has converted to Islam and resigned from his position with the anti-Muslim party, the party has confirmed.
Arthur Wagner, a leading member of the far-right party in Germany’s eastern German state of Brandenburg, stepped down for “personal reasons”, a party spokesperson confirmed, according to state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Wagner, who has been a member of the party since 2015, refused to comment to Tagesspiegel, the daily newspaper that first broke the news of his conversion.

“That’s my private business,” he told the daily.

On the party’s Brandenburg state committee, Wagner’s work focused on churches and faith communities, according to Deutsche Welle.

The AfD has campaigned against refugees and migrants and made history when it won 12.6 percent of the vote in federal elections in September 2017, entering the Bundestag for the first time.

newsinideThe party became the third largest party in the Bundestag.

The news sparked derision on social media, with many Twitter users pointing to the irony of Wagner converting to Islam after being a high-ranking member of a party that has railed against the presence of Muslims in Germany.

Emily Dische-Becker said: “Creeping Sharia picks up speed as politician from Germany’s islamophobic AfD converts to Islam.”

Mark Berry said: “I really don’t understand Nazis.”

‘Islam is a foreign entity’The AfD has long denied accusations that it is Islamophobic.
Originally founded in 2013 as a Eurosceptic party, the AfD took the lead as the most aggressive anti-refugee voice in the country while nearly a million asylum seekers arrived in Germany in 2015.

In the party’s first bill since its electoral success in September, the AfD proposed amending Germany’s Residence Act by barring refugees from bringing their relatives from the war-ravaged countries they fled.

Earlier this month, Beatrix von Storch, the deputy leader of the AfD’s parliamentary group, was blocked from Facebook and Twitter after publishing Islamophobic posts criticising police for posting Arabic-language updates on New Year’s Eve.

She had written: “What the hell is happening in this country? Why is an official police site tweeting in Arabic? Do you think it is to appease the barbaric, gang-raping hordes of Muslim men?”

The party has also sought to ban the construction of mosques in Germany.

In March 2016, the party’s Bavaria branch published a policy statement calling for an end to the “construction and operation” of mosques in the region, Deutsche Welle reported at the time.

In February of that year, then party leader Petry Frauke sparked outrage when she proclaimed that German border guards should “use fire arms if necessary” in order to prevent “illegal border crossings” by refugees and migrants.

In April 2016, the AfD’s Alexander Gauland proclaimed that Germany must remain “a Christian country” and “Islam is a foreign entity”.

The rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric has also coincided with a spike in violence against asylum seekers.

The German interior ministry documented 3,533 attacks on refugees and their accommodations – nearly 10 a day – in 2016.

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How did Slobodan Praljak obtain ‘poison’?



Two investigations will seek to uncover how a Bosnian Croat war criminal managed to commit suicide during a hearing at a UN court by drinking a deadly substance.

Security measures at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where Slobodan Praljak took his life on Wednesday are tight. But there are ways to evade the scanners and prying eyes.

Dutch lawyer Goran Sluiter, a professor of international law at the University of Amsterdam, explains how, saying it was more than likely Praljak had an accomplice.

How did he get the liquid?

“There are three scenarios. He got hold of the liquid in the detention centre, while being transported from the prison to the courtroom, or inside the courtroom itself. But I would be very surprised if he got it during the transport, as it’s a very short lapse of time.”
It is possible that “the liquid he drank was a medicine that he had received in the centre for treatment, but which he then stashed away.

“If he got hold of the bottle inside the courtroom then that reduces the circle of people who could have helped him. So you are thinking about the lawyers.

“Whatever happened, there are very strong chances that he had help.”

What security measures are in place?

“When they arrive at the court, the detainees pass through security controls. Then — before the hearing and afterwards, before returning to the detention centre — the accused are kept in holding cells.

“At the detention centre, we lawyers must pass through two security controls. One at the entrance to the Scheveningen detention centre which comes under the authority of the Dutch, and then again when entering the part of the jail reserved for ICTY suspects which is under the authority of UN guards. We are scanned like at an airport. The UN controls are much stricter than those done by the Dutch.

“At the court, the suspects have to pass through security controls which detect metal and drugs. But it is not always possible to stop drugs. Medicines, for example, can be mixed with water, and passed off as a bottle of water.”

Are there pat-downs?

“This is not a terrorist unit, so the pat-downs are less strict. My bottles of water have never been controlled, for example. Clothing is felt to see if it contains a weapon. Praljak could have quite easily hidden this small bottle in one of his bodily cavities.

“When someone really wants to end their life, they will always find a way to do it.”

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