Family of IS-inspired suicide bombers attack Indonesian churches, at least 13 dead

Family of IS-inspired suicide bombers attack Indonesian churches, at least 13 dead.

Um Laila and Farida Hassan had not seen each other since the day Iraqi soldiers helped them escape from Islamic State’s brutal rule in Mosul.

Iraqi people stand in a queue to cast their vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Mosul, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily
On Saturday, the friends were reunited at a polling station in Mosul, a Sunni city that had long felt marginalized by the same Shi’ite politicians who are competing to become prime minister after Saturday’s parliamentary election.

“I never thought I’d see you again, especially not here!” Hassan said, as she kissed her neighbor’s cheek. “Who are you voting for?”

While the rest of the country was on track for a historically low turnout of about 30 percent, the people of West Mosul were out in force on Saturday, though few believed turnout would surpass 40 percent in the city.

Mosul residents had initially welcomed the ultra-hardline Sunni Islamic State who swept through Iraq in 2014 and capitalized on widespread resentment fomented by the Shi’ite-led government headed by Nuri al-Maliki, who now hopes a new parliament will choose him as prime minister once again.

Sunnis in the biggest city in the north accused him of pursuing a sectarian agenda and marginalizing their minority community.

With much of Mosul destroyed by the devastating war against Islamic State, residents hoped their vote would help elect a new generation of leaders who will look after them, unlike past ones

they now revile as corrupt and ineffective.

“They sold us out and now they want to buy us back for cheap,” said 20-year-old university student Mohammad Firas Majeed.

An Iraqi man in a wheelchair casts his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Mosul, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily
Some credit incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi with the defeat of the radical militants that terrorized them for three years and they concede the British-educated engineer promoted reconciliation.

But mistrust still runs deep in Iraq, which exploded into a sectarian civil war in 2006-2007. Not all Mosul residents were enthusiastic about the election.

Reuters visited eight polling centers in Mosul throughout the day and saw mixed turnout.

In the western half of the city — which suffered the heaviest damage during the war – polling centers surrounded by rubble were more crowded than those in the east, which has slowly come back to life.

Data collected by Reuters from about 20 voting centers across the city, showed voter turnout rates hovering around the 30-40 percent mark.

Voting got off to a rocky start, owing largely to a nationwide driving ban over security concerns. Many had to walk across the city to reach voting centers through mounds of rubble and upturned trucks, and through neighborhoods haunted by memories of starvation.

“But we had to come and vote,” said Mohammad Bilal, a lab technician now residing in East Mosul who hopes Sunnis can make a comeback after their fortunes were reversed when a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam 15 years ago.

“Since 2003, none of us ever voted since we were suspicious of the new system. But this year has to be different. It’s time for us to participate in politics and to demand our rights.”

Some were pushed in wheelchairs, still bearing injuries from Islamic State torture, while others slept in their half-demolished homes so they could make it to the polls in time.

Those who could afford to, paid a few dollars for a licensed minivan to take them across town or hitched rides with buses paid for by various candidates.

“We never used to care about elections, but now we have to,” said 26-year-old Mohammad Imad Younis, a university student who blames the policies of Iraq’s rulers for the Islamic State seizure of a third of the country in 2014.

“This is my first time voting. These same corrupt politicians allowed Daesh into Mosul and now we must vote them out.” Daesch is a derogatory Arabic term for Islamic State.

Iraqi security forces stand outside a polling station during the parliamentary election in Mosul, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily
Others, seemed to be just going through the motions.

“I don’t really have faith in the candidate I’m voting for,” said Naser Amer Majeed, a 46-year-old retired army officer who was voting in East Mosul.

Some residents said the high turnout was due to candidates giving handouts to residents of the poorest neighborhoods in West Mosul. Reuters could not verify that claim.

On the eve of the election, a Reuters correspondent witnessed an argument between the Governor of Ninewa Province and the provincial head of the independent election commission, Mohammad Hani al-Badrani, over the traffic and illegal sale of voter ID cards.

He had come to complain that several hundred voter ID cards belonging to dead Islamic State fighters were being bought and sold by his rival candidates in his province.

“But how am I supposed to control what a family does with their suspected IS son’s ID card?” Badrani later told Reuters. “They’re poor and if someone’s offering them money for a voter card, they’re going to take it.”

Two hours before polls closed, men and women across the city were already knocking down campaign posters and billboards, taking the metal parts they hoped to sell for scrap metal.

Reporting by Raya Jalabi and additional reporting by Salih Elias in Mosul.; Editing by Michael Georgy

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
One killed in Paris knife attack by man shouting ‘Allahu akbar’
Ingrid Melander, Emmanuel Jarry

PARIS (Reuters) – An assailant shouting “Allahu akbar” killed a passer-by in a knife attack that also wounded four others in the heart of Paris late on Saturday before he was shot dead by police, French authorities said.

The country has been on high alert amid a series of attacks, commissioned or inspired by the Islamic State militant group, that has killed more than 240 people since 2015.

France “will not yield an inch to the enemies of freedom,” President Emmanuel Macron said after the attack, praising officers for “neutralizing the terrorist.”

Paris knife attacker was French citizen born in Chechnya
Paris knife attacker was French citizen born in Chechnya
The first call to police was placed at 8:47 p.m. local time (1847 GMT), officers were on the scene within five minutes, and the attacker was “neutralized” within nine minutes of that first call, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told reporters.

Police union representative Rocco Contento told Reuters that the assailant, after attacking bystanders with a knife, rushed at police shouting “I will kill you, I will kill you!”

He was then shot by the officers.

The attack took place in the heart of the French capital in a district popular with tourists for its many restaurants and cafes, landmark retail stores, and the Paris opera.

Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the police’s anti-terrorism unit would launch an investigation, given the aggressor’s “mode of operation.” The identity of the attacker man was not yet known, officials said early on Sunday.

A picture seen by Reuters, which a source said showed the attacker, showed a bare-chested and bearded young man dressed in black trousers.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility via its Amaq news agency, but provided no proof for its claim.

Personnel are seen at the scene of a knife attack in Paris, France May 12, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video. REUTERS/Reuters TV
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb called it an “odious” attack.

Witnesses described for French media how they saw the assailant running towards police officers who shot him.

“We were told to get into a bar quickly. I was curious and went outside again. Outside, I saw a person on the ground about 200 metres from me. The police, fire brigade and ambulance arrived,” one female witness told LCI television. “I could not see anything else after that.”

Slideshow (5 Images)
Authorities did not immediately reveal the identity of the victim.

TV footage showed forensic police at the scene.

(Corrects assailant’s shouts in headline and intro to “Allahu akbar”)

Additional reporting by Julie Carriat, Bate Felix and Brian Love; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Family of IS-inspired suicide bombers attack Indonesian churches, at least 13 dead
Kanupriya Kapoor

SURABAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) – A family of six launched suicide attacks on Christians attending Sunday services at three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city of Surabaya, killing at least 13 people and wounding 40, officials said.

An Indonesian Special Forces Police counter-terrorism squad member walks by burned motorcycles following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya (GPPS), in Surabaya, Indonesia May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has seen a recent resurgence in homegrown militancy and police said the family who carried out Sunday’s attacks were among 500 Islamic State sympathizers who had returned from Syria.

“The husband drove the car, an Avanza, that contained explosives and rammed it into the gate in front of that church,” East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters at the regional police headquarters in Surabaya.

The wife and two daughters were involved in an attack on a second church and at the third church “two other children rode the motorbike and had the bomb across their laps”, Mangera said.

The two daughters were aged 12 and 9 while the other two, thought to be the man’s sons, were 18 and 16, police said.

They blamed the bombings on the Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

JAD is an umbrella organization on a U.S. State Department “terrorist” list that is estimated to have drawn hundreds of Islamic State sympathizers in Indonesia.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, in a message carried on its Amaq news agency.

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