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Gunmen kill 40 in attack at concert hall near Moscow

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At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 injured when five gunmen dressed in camouflage opened fire with automatic weapons at people at a concert in the Crocus City Hall near Moscow, in one of the worst such attacks on Russia in years.

Flames leapt into the sky and plumes of black smoke rose above the venue, Reuters pictures and video showed.
Russian media reported a second blast at the venue and there were reports that some of the gunmen had barricaded themselves somewhere in the building.

The shooting appeared to have begun at a concert of the band “Picnic”.

“Suddenly there were bangs behind us – shots. A burst of firing – I do not know what,” one witness who asked not to be named told Reuters.

“A stampede began, everyone ran to the escalator,” the witness said. “Everyone was screaming, everyone was running.”
The shooting began days after President Vladimir Putin was re-elected for a new six-year term and as Russia is prosecuting a war with Ukraine.

State news agency TASS cited Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying 40 people had been killed and more than 100 wounded.
The FSB said all necessary measures were being taken.

It was not immediately clear who the gunmen were. Russian news agencies said 70 ambulance crews had been sent to the scene.
“A terrible tragedy occurred in the shopping center Crocus City today,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. “I am sorry for the loved ones of the victims.”

Russia tightened security at airports and stations and across the capital – a vast urban area of over 21 million people. Putin has yet to comment in public.

Russia’s foreign ministry said it was a “bloody terrorist attack”.

“The entire world community is obliged to condemn this monstrous crime,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “All efforts are being thrown at saving people.”

In one unverified video posted on social media, men with automatic weapons were shown firing repeatedly at screaming civilians, including women, who were cowering below what looked like an entrance sign to “Crocus City Hall”.

Other video footage showed a number of people lying motionless in pools of blood outside the hall. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the footage.

Another video showed the attackers shooting at people in the concert hall.

The White House said on Friday that images of shooting in the Russian capital were hard to watch.

“The images are just horrible and just hard to watch and our thoughts obviously are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.

The U.S. embassy in Russia warned earlier this month that “extremists” had imminent plans for an attack in Moscow.

It issued its warning several hours after the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said it had foiled an attack on a synagogue in Moscow by a cell of the militant Sunni Muslim group Islamic State.

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Foreign

We’ve not received any external attack – Iran official insists

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Iran officials have said the country has no plan for immediate retaliation against Israel. A senior Iranian official

Iran officials have said the country has no plan for immediate retaliation against Israel.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters on Friday, hours after sources said Israel launched an attack on Iranian soil.

Iran has continued to deny the attack which was launched early Friday morning, targeting its nuclear station in Isfahan.

The attack, according to reports, was similarly targeted at a military site and calibrated to avoid damage and further Iranian aggression.

“The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed,” a senior official said, according to the Guardian UK.

“We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack,” the Iranian official said on condition of anonymity.

According to Reuters, an Iranian analyst also told state TV on Friday that mini drones shot down by air defences in Isfahan were flown by “infiltrators from inside Iran”.

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US vetoes UN resolution to recognize Palestine as State

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The United States has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have recognised a Palestinian state

The United States has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have recognised a Palestinian state.

CNN reports that 12 members of the Security Council on Thursday had voted in favor of the resolution, while two countries, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, abstained.

However, the United States vetoed the resolution.

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, criticized the US veto, saying it was “unfair, immoral, and unjustified, and defies the will of the international community”.

According to him, the international community strongly supports the State of Palestine obtaining full membership in the United Nations.

But Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised the US for vetoing what he called a “shameful proposal.”

“The proposal to recognize a Palestinian state, more than 6 months after the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and after the sexual crimes and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists was a reward for terrorism”, Katz wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the US veto.

Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the US State Department had announced earlier Thursday that the US would vote against the Security Council resolution.

He said the US has “been very clear, consistently, that premature actions in New York, even with the best intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people,” referring to the headquarters of the United Nations.

Palestinian attempts for recognition as a full member state began in 2011. They are currently a non-member observer state, a status that was granted in November 2012.

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EU leaders agree to new sanctions on Iran after Israel attack

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The EU has agreed to expand sanctions on Iranian producers of drones and missiles following Tehran’s unprecedented

The EU has agreed to expand sanctions on Iranian producers of drones and missiles following Tehran’s unprecedented attack on Israel.

“It’s very important to do everything to isolate Iran,” European Council President Charles Michel said.

The bloc already has multiple sanctions in place against Iran, including for selling drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine.

The EU’s new sanctions were agreed upon during a summit in Brussels which marked the first meeting between the bloc’s 27 leaders since Iran’s direct assault on Israel on Saturday, involving more than 300 missiles and drones fired from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen which were mostly downed by Israel and its allies.

Tehran has maintained it was retaliation for a presumed Israeli air strike on its consulate in Syria on 1 April, in which 13 people were killed.

Israel – which appears to have only countered with a diplomatic offensive so far – has not ruled out a response.

But world leaders have continued to urge restraint, in a bid to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Israel has called on its allies to sanction Tehran’s missile programme and for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a major military and political force in Iran – to be designated a terrorist organisation, something the US has done but the EU and UK have not.

The EU already has a wide range of measures in place which target Iran over its human rights abuses, nuclear proliferation activities and military support for Russia.

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Drones, missile attack legitimate responese against Israel – Iran

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Drones, missile attack legitimate responese against Israel – Iran

Iran has said its attack on Israel was a “legitimate response” to Israel’s airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

An Israeli airstrike on Iran’s embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus had killed two senior members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In retaliation, Iran had sent a barrage of drones and missiles towards Israel on Saturday but they were intercepted.

However, the spokesperson of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanani, said Iran “does not seek to escalate tensions in the region.”

According to Kanani: “Iran’s action was completely legitimate and in accordance with the United Nations Charter granting states the right to self-defense.”

He added that the United States and the international community at large should “appreciate” Iran’s “responsible behavior.”

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Iran’s missiles, drone attack declaration of war – Israeli president

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Iran’s missiles, drone attack declaration of war – Israeli president

The President of Israel, Isaac Herzog has said Tel Aviv was “considering all options” following Iran’s overnight missile and drone attacks.

Herzog said Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel was a “declaration of war.”

Speaking with Sky News, Herzog said: “Every one of us should look and ask, what would we do had we been attacked in such an aggressive way as we were attacked last night.”

When asked if Israel would retaliate the attack against Iran, the Israeli president said they are “considering all options.”

“This is like a real war … this is a declaration of war.”

Herzog added that he was “happy that we are part of an incredible coalition of nations that have been part and parcel in preventing most of these missiles and drones and weapons to come into Israel.”

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Trump’s hush-money trial begins

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Trump’s hush-money trial begins

Former President Donald Trump makes history on Monday, as he becomes the first current or former president in the nation’s history to go on trial.

Fox News reports that Trump’s hush-money trial, which will get underway in a New York City courtroom, will have an instant impact on his 2024 election rematch with President Joe Biden.

The former president is being tried on 34 state felony charges and is accused of falsifying business records in relation to hush-money payments during the 2016 election, which he made to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about his alleged affair with the adult film actress.

The former President has repeatedly denied falsifying business records, as well as the alleged sexual encounter with Daniels.

Trump’s legal team has tried numerous times, unsuccessfully, to further delay or postpone the trial.

The unprecedented trial is the first of Trump’s four criminal cases, including two for his alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and another for mishandling classified documents — to go to trial.

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