Russia suspects involvement of US, Britain, Ukraine in terror attack on Moscow concert

News Network
March 28, 2024

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Russia says it is "extremely hard to believe" that Daesh could have staged the recent hugely deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall that the country's intelligence and security officials have blamed on Ukraine and its Western backers.

Four gunmen burst into the Russian capital's Crocus City Hall on Friday and began shooting at the people, who were attending an event. The Takfiri terrorist group has allegedly claimed responsibility for the massacre that killed at least 143.

Speaking on Wednesday, however, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cast that claim into serious doubt.

"In order to ward off suspicions from the collective West, they urgently needed to come up with something, so they resorted to ISIS (Daesh), pulled an ace out of their sleeve, and literally a few hours after the terrorist attack, the Anglo-Saxon media began disseminating precisely these versions," she said.

The chief of the Russian internal intelligence (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov has suggested that not only Ukraine, but also the United States and Britain might have been behind the shooting.

The Russian Federal Security Service has also said the gunmen planned to travel to Ukraine, where they were to be welcomed as "heroes." The FSB said Western intelligence services aided the attackers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also suggested that Ukraine stood to derive benefit from the attack and that Kiev might have played a role.

He has said that someone on the Ukrainian side had prepared a "window" for the gunmen to escape across the border before they were captured in western Russia on Friday night.

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News Network
April 13,2024

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Tehran, Apr 13: Iranian armed forces have seized a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions across the region after a deadly Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

The incident comes amid Israel bracing for Iranian retaliation after the regime's April 1 strike on a building in the Iranian embassy compound in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed seven IRGC military advisors, including two generals.

The ship was commandeered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite force that lost seven members in the Syria strike, Iranian state media reported on Saturday.

“The ship has now been guided towards the territorial waters of our country,” state-run IRNA reported.

The vessel was identified as the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries, which reportedly departed from a port in the United Arab Emirates en route to India. 

Footage from the deck of the vessel obtained by The Associated Press news agency on Saturday showed soldiers rappelling down from a helicopter.

The helicopter appeared to be a Soviet-designed Mil Mi-17, which is operated by the naval forces of the IRGC.

Zodiac Maritime said in a statement that MSC is responsible for all vessel activities.

“Title to the vessel is held by Gortal Shipping Inc as financier and she has been leased to MSC on a long-term basis. Gortal Shipping Inc is affiliated with Zodiac Maritime,” it said.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had said a vessel was seized by “regional authorities” 50 nautical miles (92km) northeast of the UAE’s Fujairah in a waterway vital to world trade.

Another Israeli-linked container ship was attacked and damaged by a drone in the Indian Ocean in late November, which the United States blamed on Iran.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a post on X that the move by Iran was “a pirate operation in violation of international law”.

He called on the European Union and “the free world to immediately declare” the IRGC a “terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now”.

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes. Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

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News Network
April 4,2024

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Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are wondering how they are going to feed their families as World Central Kitchen (WCK) paused its operations in response to the killing of seven of its aid workers in an Israeli air strike.

Another US charity it works with, Anera, has also suspended work because of the escalating risks faced by its local staff and their families.

Together, they were serving two million meals a week across the Palestinian territory, where the UN has warned that an estimated 1.1 million people - half the population - are facing catastrophic hunger because of Israeli restrictions on aid deliveries, the ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of order.

WCK's decision to pause its work also led to the "freezing" of a maritime aid corridor from Cyprus, which the charity helped set up last month to increase the trickle of aid getting into the north of Gaza and avert a looming famine.

The WCK convoy was hit on Monday night as it travelled south along the Israeli-designated coastal aid route, just after they had unloaded more than 100 tonnes of food from a barge at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah.

That barge was part of a four-vessel flotilla that sailed back to Cyprus with 240 tonnes of supplies that could not be brought ashore in the wake of the strike.

The Norwegian Refugee Council warned that "what happened to World Central Kitchen threatens the entire aid system" and had left it "on the brink".

WCK accused the Israeli military of a "targeted attack" on vehicles clearly marked with the charity's logo and whose movements had been co-ordinated with Israel authorities. The victims were British, Polish, Australian and Palestinian, and also included a dual US-Canadian citizen.

The aid groups say that this was not an isolated incident, with at least 196 Palestinian aid workers already killed since the war began in October.

Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council and a former UN humanitarian chief, said that WCK was "among those who have the closest co-operation with the Israelis", in terms of sharing information about their workers' locations and planned movements.

Before the strike, WCK was playing an increasingly prominent and important role in Gaza, with 400 Palestinian staff and 3,000 people working indirectly in its 68 community kitchens and distribution system across the territory.

WCK provided 12% of the 193,000 tonnes of aid from international organisations that had reached Gaza as of Tuesday, according to data from Cogat, the Israeli defence ministry body tasked with co-ordinating deliveries. However, UN agencies were responsible for 80% of the total.

WCK's founder, the chef José Andrés, said on Wednesday that it was "analysing the situation and how to keep doing the work we do".

Anera - which was providing 150,000 meals a day in collaboration with WCK - said it understood the consequences pausing its own work would have on Palestinians, but that its Palestinian staff had for the first time deemed the risk to their safety and that of their families "intolerable".

It said the charity's logistics co-ordinator and his son had been killed in an Israeli air strike in Deir al-Balah in March, despite the fact that the co-ordinates of the shelter where they were staying had been provided to the Israeli military.

"We've asked for explanation as to why that site was struck and we've received none," Derek Madsen of Anera said. "These sites are known and so I think it is very difficult for us to understand how these strikes happen."

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News Network
April 14,2024

New Delhi, Apr 14: In response to the escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Sunday issued a statement expressing serious concern over the potential threat to regional peace and security.

"We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region," the MEA said in the statement.

The ministry called for an immediate de-escalation of the situation, emphasizing the importance of exercising restraint and refraining from further violence. 

Stressing the need for diplomacy to prevail, India urged both parties to step back from confrontation and seek peaceful resolutions to their differences.

"We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy," the MEA said. 

India, closely monitoring the evolving situation, assured that its embassies in the region are actively engaging with the Indian community, providing support and assistance as needed.

"We are closely monitoring the evolving situation. Our Embassies in the region are in close touch with the Indian community," the MEA affirmed.

Highlighting the significance of maintaining security and stability in the region, India reiterated the importance of all parties involved prioritizing peaceful dialogue and cooperative measures. "It is vital that security and stability are maintained in the region," the MEA said.

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