Thursday, 30 March 2017

International News (363)

An Islamic court has sentenced a Nigerian cleric to death by hanging for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the northern city of Kano.

A Muslim school teacher and preacher has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a court in Kenya for radicalising children.

Former Nigerian defence minister Bello Haliru Mohammed has been charged with money laundering.

Former Nigerian defence minister Bello Haliru Mohammed has been charged with money laundering.

Former Nigerian defence minister Bello Haliru Mohammed has been charged with money laundering.

Twitter is considering ditching its 140-character limit in tweets.

Four chemical elements have been formally added to the periodic table, completing the scheme's seventh row.

Kenya's Garissa University College has officially reopened, nine months after the killing of nearly 150 people, mainly students, in an attack by militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he will seek re-election for a third term in 2017.

Four gunmen have been killed in an overnight attack on an Indian air force base near Pakistani border, officials say.

Security is being stepped up in major European cities ahead of New Year celebrations, with officials wary of possible terror plots.

New Year fireworks and festivities have been cancelled in the Belgian capital Brussels because of an alert.

Extra measures are being put in place in other cities, including Paris, London, Berlin and Moscow.

Meanwhile in Turkey, security services say they have thwarted a major plot to attack celebrations in Ankara.

Earlier this week, Austrian police claimed a "friendly intelligence service" had tipped them off that major European capitals were at risk of being attacked over the holiday period.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the Brussels decision had been taken "given information we have received".

Last year 100,000 people turned out in Brussels to welcome in the New Year.

"In these circumstances, we can't check everyone," Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said.

Brussels was put on a far-reaching lockdown in November in the wake of the Paris attacks, as police hunted suspects linked to the city.

An escalation of the perceived terror threat to the maximum level four led to the metro network being suspended and a curfew imposed for four days.

Belgium remains on high alert but the threat level has been downgraded to three. Restrictions in place over the New Year relate to specific events and celebrations.

Police say the apparent plots to target New Year celebrations are not related to the network behind the Paris attacks.

Earlier in the week, Belgian police arrested two people suspected of planning attacks during the festive season and seized propaganda for so-called Islamic State (IS) as well as military clothing and computer equipment.

Another arrest was made on Thursday, police said, during a raid in the outskirts of Belgium. It is the 10th arrest in connection with the attacks in Paris.

The French capital has cancelled its main New Year fireworks display but the traditional gathering on the Champs-Elysees will take place, amid tight security.

Projections on the Arc de Triomphe will be shorter than normal and four giant screens will be placed at intervals to avoid creating tightly packed crowds.

On Wednesday, Turkish police arrested two suspected IS members over an alleged plot to attack celebrations in Ankara.

State media said they were planning two separate attacks on crowded areas. Suicide vests and explosives were found during police raids.

Security will also be stepped up in Istanbul, with local media reports saying that some officers will be wearing Father Christmas outfits and other disguises to patrol crowds undetected.

Security is also being tightened in cities where the authorities say there is no specific intelligence about a possible attack.

Authorities in Moscow will completely close off Red Square, where crowds normally countdown to midnight.

In Berlin, backpacks and fireworks will be prohibited and bags searched on the "fan mile" in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which has reportedly been closed off since Christmas.

Up to a million people are expected to attend the celebration.

Backpacks will be banned at the Berlin celebrations

Berlin's interior minister Frank Henkel encouraged party-goers to not allow fear to sour their celebratory mood. "Caution is a good counsellor, fear is not," he told broadcaster RBB.

London's Metropolitan Police will deploy 3,000 officers in the inner city, including extra armed officers.

More than 100,000 people are expected to watch the Mayor of London's fireworks show, a ticketed event.

"Our plans are purely precautionary and not as a result of any specific intelligence," said a spokesperson.

Australian officials assured revelers that thousands of extra police would patrol major cities, but urged residents to celebrate. "Don't change your way of life," said Melbourne's Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

The US embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, warned its citizens of "possible attacks" against hotels and clubs in the city in connection with New Year's Eve celebrations.

And a number of other cities around the world have been put on high alert or called up additional police officers, including Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi, where police and anti-terror squads have conducted mock terror drills this week.

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