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Airport shooting reignites security debate before French election

PARIS Police questioned and then released relatives of a man shot dead at a Paris airport, as investigators sought clues on why he attacked an army patrol in an incident that has pushed security to the forefront of France’s election campaign.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said late on Saturday that the man, named as 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had shouted he was there to “die for Allah” when he tried to seize a gun from a woman air force member on patrol at Orly airport.

After throwing down a bag containing a can of petrol and putting an air pistol to the head of the soldier, he was shot three times by her colleagues.

More than 230 people have died in France in the past twoyears at the hands of attackers allied to the militant Islamist group Islamic State, making security a key issue in the two-round presidential election on April 23 and May 7.

Emmanuel Macron, the centrist frontrunner, told France 2 television on Sunday it was “essential” to maintain the current state of emergency, in force since November 2015 . He reiterated that he would strengthen military operations and intelligence against Islamist militants.

Conservative Francois Fillon said France was in a “situation of virtual civil war” and spoke out against the idea of lifting the state of emergency, as floated by the justice minister last week.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, running on an

anti-immigration, anti-European Union ticket, told a rally that the government was “overwhelmed, stunned, paralysed like a rabbit in the headlights.”


Belgacem, who had been in and out of prison for theft and drug offences according to judicial sources, was already on the authorities’ radar . They said he became a radicalised Muslim when he served a prison term several years ago for drug-trafficking.

He had been reporting regularly to police under the terms of a provisional release from custody, and did not have the right to leave the country.

Several hours before he was killed, Belgacem had shot and wounded a police officer with his air pistol when he was stopped for a routine traffic check north of Paris, officials said . He then fled the scene.

He later entered a bar where he was a regular customer in Vitry-sur-Seine on the other side of Paris, and opened fire with his air gun without hitting anyone . He also stole a car before arriving at the airport.

Belgacem’s father, who was initially detained by police but released late on Saturday, denied his son had been involved in terrorism.

“My son has never been a terrorist . He has never prayed: he drinks . And, under the influence of alcohol and cannabis, this is what happens,” the father, whose name was not given, told Europe 1 radio.

He said he had received a phone call from his son in which Belgacem referred to shooting the police officer, saying: “I ask your forgiveness . I screwed up with a policeman.”

An autopsy showed the presence of cannabis and cocaine in Belgacem’s body, as well as an alcohol blood level of 0.93 grams per litre, a judicial source said on Sunday.

The legal limit for alcohol while driving in France is 0.5 g/l.

An earlier search of Belgacem’s home had found several grams of cocaine, the prosecutor said.

Belgacem was born in Paris, according to the prosecutor . French media said his family was of Tunisian origin.

A brother and cousin of Belgacem were also questioned by police and then released on Sunday, the judicial source said.

(Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Sandra Maler)

Bahrain uncovers Iran-linked militant group behind attacks on security

DUBAI Bahrain said on Saturday it had uncovered a 54-member Iranian-linked militant group suspected of involvement in attacks on security forces, including organising a prison break in January, and seized automatic weapons.

It was one of the biggest security operations against suspected militants Bahrain blames for an increase in armed attacks on security forces in the Western-allied kingdom, where the U.S . Fifth Fleet is based.

Tensions have been rising in the kingdom since last year after authorities stepped up a crackdown on dissent, banning the main opposition group al-Wefaq, arresting a leading activist and critic of the government and revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the country’s majority Shi’ites.

State news agency BNA on Saturday quoted the chief prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi as saying that security forces have arrested 25 members and seized 11 pistols and Kalashnikov rifles in a series of operations, including an attempted arms smuggling in December.

Hammadi also said that an investigation into the January prison break revealed that a Germany-based leader of the group had helped organise trips for members from Bahrain to Iran and Iraq for training, according to BNA.

“The investigation revealed that .. . several members (were sent) to Iran and Iraq to train on the use of explosives and automatic weapons in (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards camps to prepare them to carry out terrorist acts inside the country,” Hammadi said, according to BNA.

The group was suspected of involvement in six armed attacks, including the Jan .

1 assault on Jau prison that resulted in the death of one policeman and the escape of 10 convicted inmates and the stealing of weapons, the report said.

Members of the group also killed an officer at his farm in Bilad al-Qadeem on Jan .

28, and organised an attempt to smuggle the escaped Jau prison inmates abroad in February . Authorities said at the time that security forces killed three men and captured seven during a gun battle at sea as they tried to flee to Iran.

Bahrain in February executed three men convicted in the death of three policemen, including an Emirati officer, in a 2014 bomb attack.

Bahrain frequently accuses Iran, a Shi’ite theocracy, of being behind bomb attacks targeting security services and fomenting Shi’ite protests . Iran denies interfering in Bahrain, although it acknowledges support for opposition groups seeking greater rights for Bahrain’s Shi’ites.

The Shi’ite community led Arab Spring protests in 2011 that were put down by the government with help from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Thousands of mainly Shi’ite Muslim Bahrainis are in jail on charges ranging from participating in anti-government protests to armed attacks on security forces.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

"It is disgusting" Kissing teenage lesbians ‘told off by Morrisons …

A shocked teenage lesbian1 couple claim they were told off for kissing by a Morrisons2 security guard – who said they were “putting people off their food”. The supermarket chain is investigating the claim that he shouted at the young pair: “It is disgusting.”

Chloe Arrandale, from from Eccles, and her girlfriend Louise Taylor, from Ashton, say they were stunned when the security guard took offence – and began ‘swearing’. The couple, who are both 18-years-old, were eating in the supermarket chain’s caf in Eccles on Thursday between 5:30pm and 6pm when the incident happened.

Louise says she simply put her arm around Chloe and gave her a kiss because she was “not feeling great”. However, they say their lunch date turned sour when the security guard – who was also eating in the caf at the time – began ‘shouting and swearing’ at them. They also claim he told them: “You should go outside if you want to act like that”.

Chloe and Louise were enjoying a lunch date at the time of the outburst

“I want an apology from this man and for him to admit what he has done is wrong,” said Chloe, a college student.

“Love is love . If he has these opinions then he should just keep them to himself and not just go screaming at two young girls.

“All she did was sit next to me, put her arm around me and gave me a kiss because I was not feeling well . It wasn’t a really long, sloppy snog.

“I have been going to this Morrisons since I was young and the staff are always great.

“We come to the store almost every day after college .

We don’t blame Morrisons for this, as we have never had any problems.

“It was just the actions of one particular person.”

Morrisons is investigating what happened at the store branch in Eccles

The security guard had been eating while the couple were in the caf but was called away to deal with something after an announcement was made over the speaker system. The couple actually felt sorry for the man as all he was doing was trying to eat before he was called into action. It was on his return to the caf that they claim the security guard suddenly started shouting at them, leaving a shocked Louise to escort her upset girlfriend from the store.

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Chloe added: “We get the occasional glances when we are out together or little shouts from childish boys but never had anyone scream at us before.

“Louise was just sat there quiet because she was in shock.

“I was so upset that she had to take me outside . We were both just really confused as to why he just suddenly started shouting . But later this turned to anger.

“It is 2017 . No one should be spoken to like that.”

Chloe’s mother, Beth Arrandale, was shocked when she heard what had allegedly happened to her daughter and her girlfriend. She posted on Facebook about the incident and shared it to Morrisons official page as well, before Chloe posted about it herself.

Beth’s post said: “I’m absolutely disgusted with the ignorant, homophobic and disgraceful treatment of my daughter and her girlfriend by staff at Morrisons in Eccles!!!

“All they did was have a little kiss (just a peck on the lips) whilst having something to eat in the cafe.

Chloe, 18, thanked her mum for sticking up for her

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“They were then confronted by an idiotic and clearly homophobic ‘security guard’ and told they had to get out of Morrisons, that they were disgusting and apparently putting people off their food!

“If they want to carry on with ‘that’ kind of behaviour then to do it outside!!!

“Nothing said to the straight couple though, who were sat next to them, who also happened to be cuddling and kissing!! !

It’s 2017 ffs!!!!!!! (sic).”

Morrisons have said that the individual was from their security supplier and that they are currently investigating the incident.

A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We take this allegation extremely seriously and we are raising it with our security supplier at this store to find out what happened.”


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