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UK Police charge three with assisting Hong Kong intelligence service

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London, May 13 (IANS/DPA) UK police have charged three men with assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service under the National Security Act.

Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, have also been charged with foreign interference under the same Act, the Metropolitan Police in London said.

It follows an investigation led by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command in which 11 people in total were detained.

Eight men and a woman were arrested by officers on May 1 in the Yorkshire area before a man was arrested in London and another man was arrested in the Yorkshire area the following day, the force said.

The seven men and one woman, who were not charged, were released from custody on or before May 10.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This operation is not connected to a recently reported Counter Terrorism Policing investigation linked to Russia.”

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“A number of arrests were made, and searches carried out across England as part of this investigation.”

“While led from London, the Counter Terrorism Policing network has been crucial to disrupting this activity, and we have worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service since the start of the investigation.”

“While these offences are concerning, I want to reassure the public that we do not believe there to be any wider threat to them.”

“This investigation remains ongoing, but now that charges have been brought, I urge people not to speculate or comment further in relation to this case.”

The three men will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

–IANS/DPA

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Top EU diplomat meets Palestinian premier, renews Gaza ceasefire call

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Brussels, May 26 (IANS/DPA) The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, reiterated calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas, following a meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s new prime minister in Brussels on Sunday.

“We must do everything in our power to reach an immediate end of the hostilities, to achieve the immediate release of all hostages, to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza,” said Borrell at a press conference.

Borrell was speaking at European Commission headquarters alongside Mohammad Mustafa, the recently appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

The three met donors to the Palestinian Authority in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the newly-formed government in the West Bank, led by Mustafa.

Borrell also said allegations that Israel is committing “genocide” should be investigated.

Noting an ruling by the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, which ordered Israel to stop its offensive in the Gazan city of Rafah, Borrell said: “This important international Court of Justice verdict also orders Israel to ensure access to any United Nations mandate investigating the allegations of genocide.”

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While he emphasized that he’s only calling them “allegations”, Borrell added, “they have to be investigated according with the ruling of the ICJ.”

Norway – which is not a member of the EU – announced on Wednesday that it will recognize the state of Palestine. The EU itself cannot do the same unless all of its 27 member states do so first.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 after elections the previous year led to fighting between Hamas and Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

–IANS/DPA

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8 killed as tornadoes leave trail of death and destruction in US

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Washington, May 26 (IANS) At least eight people were killed as tornadoes created havoc in the US states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, destroying buildings and a fuel station where scores of people were taking shelter and leaving thousands of people without power, reports said on Sunday.

Severe storms had formed over the states, where temperatures are running high, on Saturday night (local time), with Texas’ Cooke County, north of Dallas, among the worst-affected areas, the BBC reported.

Local Sheriff Ray Sappington told local media that at least five people had been killed, and the number was likely to grow.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations were on and they were hopeful of finding survivors, he added.

Footage on local media showed a fuel station almost completely destroyed, with twisted metal and damaged vehicles.

In Oklahoma, two people were killed in Mayes County and six others were injured, the BBC reported, citing the local emergency management authority.

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One death was reported in Arkansas, as per US media reports.

The tornadoes also affected surface traffic, leaving lorries overturned and highways shut, while the power supply was snapped as poles were uprooted. Officials said that it could take days to restore services.

Parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were at risk of severe weather on Sunday, after the havoc in the Southern Plains, as per reports.

–IANS

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27 South Africans arrested for election-related crimes: Police

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Johannesburg, May 26 (IANS) A total of 27 people have been arrested in South Africa in the past week for various election-related crimes, a senior police official said on Sunday.

For the period from May 19 to May 25, 27 additional cases have been registered and are under investigation, with 17 of the cases reported in Limpopo Province, said Tebello Mosikili, deputy national commissioner of the South African Police Service, while briefing the media in Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital, about the police’s preparedness for the upcoming elections, Xinhua news agency reported.

The suspects were arrested for contravening the electoral act, attempted murder, vandalism and illegal removal of posters. The police are continuing tracing operations, roadblocks, stop-and-searches and patrols, said Mosikili. “We take this opportunity to call for political tolerance among voters and members of various parties.”

“We are now entering the second phase of our 2024 national and provincial elections operational plan. We therefore take this opportunity to caution responsible citizens, especially social media users, from spreading fake news. You are all urged to verify facts first before sharing any information, which often leads to unnecessary confusion and panic,” she said.

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Mosikili warned that they will arrest those inciting violence on social media platforms, as the intelligence communities and cybercrime units are closely monitoring online users.

South Africa is scheduled to hold national and local government elections on May 29.

–IANS

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Twelve people injured by turbulence on Doha to Dublin flight

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Dublin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Six passengers and six crew members have been injured during turbulence on a flight from Doha to Ireland.

In a statement, Dublin Airport said the Qatar Airways flight landed safely as scheduled shortly before 1 pm (1200 GMT) on Sunday.

“Upon landing, the aircraft was met by emergency services, including Airport Police and our Fire and Rescue department, due to six passengers and six crew [12 total] on board reporting injuries after the aircraft experienced turbulence while airborne over Turkey,” the airport added.

“The Dublin Airport team continues to provide full assistance on the ground to passengers and airline staff.”

The incident comes a week after a British man died and scores were injured when a Singapore Airlines flight from London hit severe turbulence.

–IANS/DPA

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UN agency fears 670 dead after Papua New Guinea landslide

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) At least 670 people are feared to have been killed by a landslide in Papua New Guinea, an International Organization for Migration (IOM) official said on Sunday.

Serhan Aktoprak, the IOM’s head of mission for the Pacific country, told Australian broadcaster ABC that the scale of the impact was much greater than initially thought.

Several villages in the province of Enga were hit when part of a mountain collapsed in the early hours of Friday in the remote central highlands of Papua New Guinea.

More than 4,000 people live in the affected area, according to reports, although it is unclear how many were present when the landslide occurred.

The United Nations on Sunday confirmed the deaths of five people whose bodies have been recovered. At least 20 women and children have also been injured.

One village in the area, Yambili, disappeared under the landslide, the local newspaper Post Courier reported on Saturday. In the region, at least 150 houses are believed to be buried under 6 to 8 metres of mud.

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The inaccessibility of the region has complicated rescue efforts and hopes of finding survivors are diminishing quickly. The area is characterized by tropical forests and a huge mountain range with rugged valleys, some of which are not accessible by road and can only be reached by air.

The terrain surrounding the disaster zone in Enga province also remains dangerous and unstable, prompting the evacuation of about 1,250 survivors, Aktoprak said.

Aktoprak described the difficulties at the scene, saying people had to “run away from the site because of the increased danger as rocks nonstop keep falling and the land continues to slide.”

Despite the difficulties, rescue efforts are continuing, involving national emergency response teams, police, the army and the UN.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday offered the Papua New Guinea government help with rescue efforts and reconstruction. Australia and the United States have also offered support.

Papua New Guinea, with a population of almost 10 million people, lies just north of Australia.

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Despite being rich in minerals, timber, oil and gas, its history of colonialism, political instability and mismanagement of resources has kept its people impoverished.

–IANS/DPA

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