Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 27th 2016 Contents A19
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VRAY---The Islamic State
group crossed a new threshold
in its war against the West
yesterday, after two of its fol-
lowers targeted a church in
Normandy, slitting the throat
of an elderly priest celebrating
mass and using hostages as
human shields before being
shot by police.
It was the extremist group's
first attack against a church in
the West, and fulfilled long-
standing threats against "cru-
saders" in what the militants
paint as a centuries-old battle
for power. One of the attackers,
who grew up in the town, had
tried twice to leave for Syria;
the second was not identified.
"To attack a church, to kill
a priest, is to profane the
republic," French President
Francois Hollande told the
nation after speaking with Pope
Francis, who condemned the
killing in the strongest terms.
The Rev Jacques Hamel was
celebrating mass for three nuns
and two parishioners on a quiet
summer morning in Saint-Eti-
enne-du-Rouvray when the
attackers burst in and forced
the 85-year-old priest to his
knees before slicing his throat,
according to authorities and a
nun who escaped.
She described seeing the
attackers film themselves and
give a sermon in Arabic around
the altar before she fled. Paris
prosecutor Francois Molins said
the other hostages were used
as human shields to block
police from entering. One eld-
erly parishioner was wound-
The two attackers were killed
by police as they rushed from
the building shouting "Allahu
Akbar," Molins said. One had
three knives and a fake explo-
sives belt; the other carried a
kitchen timer wrapped in alu-
minum foil and had fake explo-
sives in his backpack.
One of the assailants was
identified as Adel Kermiche, a
19-year-old who tried to travel
to Syria twice last year using
family members' identity doc-
uments, but was arrested out-
side France and handed pre-
liminary terrorism charges.
Kermiche had an electronic
surveillance bracelet after a
judge overruled prosecutors
and agreed to free him, Molins
A statement published by
the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news
agency said the attack was car-
ried out by "two soldiers of the
Islamic State" who acted in
response to calls to target
nations in the US-led coalition
fighting the extremist group in
Iraq and Syria.
Haras Rafiq, managing
director of the Quilliam Foun-
dation, described the attack as
a turning point.
"What these two people
today have done is ... shifted
the tactical attack to the attack
on Rome ... an attack on Chris-
tianity," he said.
He warned that it could
"radicalise people from both
sides of the communities.
Muslim and non-Muslim."
As Europe becomes painfully
inured to a summer of repeated
bloodshed, the extremists are
looking for greater ways to
shock, Rafiq said.
"This is going into a house
of God. This is attacking and
killing a priest."
"We've been talking about
the danger of the global jihadist
insurgency. This is what it looks
like," he said.
The increasing speed with
which ISIS has claimed
responsibility and the growing
number of attacks this summer
have left Europe alarmed and
The slain priest had been at
the church for the past decade
and "was always ready to help,"
said Rouen diocese official
"His desire was to spread a
message for which he conse-
crated his life," Mahut told the
"And he certainly didn't
think that consecrating his life
would mean for him to die
while celebrating mass, which
is a message of love."
One person, a minor, was
arrested in the investigation.
Molins said he is believed to
be the 16-year-old younger
brother of someone wanted by
authorities for trying to go to
Syria or Iraq in 2015.
France's security services are
stretched after eight months
under a state of emergency
imposed following attacks in
November in Paris. They've
been under new strain since
an attack in the southern city
of Nice on Bastille Day---July
14---that killed 84 people and
was claimed by ISIS.
French authorities increased
security at places of worship
after attacks in Paris last year,
but ensuring constant, blanket
security is difficult in a country
with a church in every town
and village. (AP)
MOGADISHU---Two suicide bombers deto-
nated explosives-laden cars outside the office
of the UN s mine-clearing agency and a
Somali army checkpoint in Mogadishu yes-
terday, killing 13 people, including seven
guards, Somali police officials said.
The blasts occurred near the African Union
base in the area of the Mogadishu airport,
Somali police chief Gen. Mohamed Sheikh
Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab,
claimed responsibility, according to the group's
Andalus radio station.
Unlike previous attacks by the al-Qaeda-
linked al-Shabab, gunmen did not accompany
the suicide bomber, said police Capt. Mohamed
Hussein. The first suicide bomber tried to
speed through the barrier at the UN office but
guards shot at the car, he said. The guards
were from a private security firm, said a police
official, who insisted on anonymity because
he wasn't authorised to speak to the press.
The deputy spokesman for the UN secre-
tary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters that
if the guards had not stopped the car from
entering the UN premises, there "would have
been considerably more damage and loss of
A second suicide blast targeted a checkpoint
manned by Somali security forces near the
African Union base in Mogadishu, said Hussein.
Casualties there remained unclear.
Al-Shabab is waging an insurgency against
Somalia's weak UN-backed government with
the goal of establishing an Islamic emirate,
ruled by a strict form of Islam.
More than 22,000 peacekeepers serve in the
multi-nation African Union force. Al-Shabab
opposes the presence of foreign troops in Soma-
BENGHAZI---Libya s chief of staff yesterday threat-
ened to target foreign oil tankers if they entered ter-
ritorial waters, after a controversial deal was struck
between the United Nations envoy and a militia com-
mander in control of the oil terminals.
The agreement between UN Envoy to Libya Martin
Kobler and militia leader Ibrahim Jedran has been
widely criticised amid accusations that it empowers
the warlord who is viewed by many as having held
Libya's oil hostage for the past three years.
Brig. Gen. Abdel-Razek al-Nadhouri warned foreign
companies against signing oil deals with any party
except for the state-run National Oil Corporation
(NOC) branch in Benghazi.
"Any movement of any vessels or oil tankers toward
the Libyan territorial waters without prior agreement
with the NOC affiliated to the Libyan parliament, will
be targeted," the statement read.
Libya's oil corporation---like the rest of the oil-rich
North African country's state bodies---has been split
between eastern and western branches.
Benghazi's branch falls under the authority of the
internationally-recognised parliament seated in the
eastern city of Tobruk. The western one falls under
the Tripoli-based, UN-brokered government which
together with a presidency council was formed after
rival factions in Libya signed a peace deal last year
aimed at ending the country's rift.
The eastern parliament has so far failed to give a
crucial vote of confidence to the government, because
of objections over a key article in the peace deal that
determines who would wield authority over the armed
forces. Al-Nadhouri---who answers to the eastern par-
liament---made his threat days after Kobler and Jedran
struck their deal. Many from both sides believe that
the deal---the terms of which haven't been publicly
laid out---empowers the militia commander and under-
mines the government.
Jedran commands a large force named the Petroleum
Facilities Guards (PFG). In 2013, he closed Libya's three
major terminals, Ras Lanuf, al-Sidra and al-Zueitina,
causing a sharp decline in oil output from 1.6 billion
barrels a day in 2011, before the ouster of Libya's dictator
Moammar Gadhafi, to less than a quarter of that pro-
duction in 2016. Revenues have been dealt a major
blow and Libyans lost over $100 billion in potential
profits over the past three years, according to NOC
Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Kerry
Washington, Mark Ruffalo, Neil Patrick
Harris, Lena Dunham, Shonda Rhimes and
Macklemore are among more than 100
celebrities joining a campaign to urge
Americans to deny Donald Trump the
White House. The campaign is part of
MoveOn.org Political Action's
"We believe it is our responsibility to use
our platforms to bring attention to the
dangers of a Trump presidency, and to the
real and present threats of his candidacy,"
says an open letter signed by the
"Donald Trump wants to take our
country back to a time when fear excused
violence, when greed fuelled discrimination,
and when the state wrote prejudice against
marginalised communities into law ... Some
of us come from the groups Trump has
attacked. Some of us don't. But as history
has shown, it's often only a matter of time
before the 'other' becomes me." (AP)
Celebrities pledge to work against Trump
ISIS continues terror reign in France
Priest slain during mass
An undated photo of French Priest Jacques Hamel made available
by the Catholic Diocese of Rouen, France, yesterday. Hamel was
killed by two attackers while celebrating mass. AP PHOTO
Suicide bombs kill 13 near UN's Somalia offices
Libya army chief
threatens to target
foreign oil tankers
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