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Army put on standby as UK Police hand in weapon

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• UK police officer holding his firearms

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is offering soldiers to support armed police in London after dozens of police officers stood down from firearms duties, BBC reports.

More than 100 officers have turned in permits allowing them to carry weapons, a source told the BBC, in support of a fellow officer who has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of a young Black man, Chris Kaba.

The officer, named only as NX121, who appeared in court last week, has been charged over the death of Chris Kaba in September 2022.

Kaba died hours after he was struck by a single gunshot fired into the vehicle he was driving in the Streatham area of South London.

It later emerged that the Audi Mr Kaba was driving, which did not belong to him, had been linked by police to a gun incident the day before.

His death prompted a number of protests and renewed allegations of racism within the force.

The Ministry of Defence said it received a request, known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities, from the Home Office to “provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed”.

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A MACA is offered to the police or the NHS in emergency situations. The military helped medical staff in the Covid pandemic and covered for striking border staff and paramedics last year.

The Met said it was a “contingency option” that would only be used “in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available”.

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Military staff would not be used “in a routine policing capacity”, it added.

On Saturday, the Met said its own officers still make up the vast majority of armed police in the capital but they were being supported by a limited number of firearms officers from neighbouring forces.

Announcing the review, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the public “depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us”.

“In the interest of public safety they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures.”

She said that officers have her “full backing”.

“I will do everything in my power to support them,” she added.

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In his letter to the home secretary, the Met Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that a system where officers are investigated for “safely pursuing suspects” should not have been allowed to develop.

Sir Mark said he would “make no comment” on any ongoing legal matters, but “the issues raised in this letter go back further”.

He said firearms officers are concerned that they will face years of legal proceedings, “even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given”.

“Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour,” he wrote.

But in instances where officers act improperly, Sir Mark said the system “needs to move swiftly” rather than “tying itself in knots pursuing good officers through multiple legal processes”.

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International

34 declared wanted over attempted coup in Sierra Leone

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34 declared wanted over attempted coup in Sierra Leone

The police in Sierra Leone, on Tuesday, declared 34 persons wanted in connection with last Sunday’s apparent attempted coup.

The 34 persons whose pictures were released by the Sierra Leone police are wanted for questioning over their roles in the attempted coup that started with an attack on the armoury at the Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown.

The 34 wanted persons include military officers and civilians including two females.

The attempted coup was the second in the country, following a disputed presidential election that returned incumbent President, Julius Mada Bio, to power for a second term in office.

The first attempted coup happened about three months ago following a disputed presidential election in June.

Eight countries in West and Central Africa are under military rule after a series of coups, including Guinea.

However, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, and regional block, Economic Community of West African States have released statements strongly condemning Sunday’s violence.

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SEE ALSO:  39 die in stampede during army recruitment exercise
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Sierra Leone declares curfew after gunmen attacked the main military barracks and detention centers

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Sierra Leone declares curfew after gunmen attacked the main military barracks and detention centers
FILE - Julius Maada Bio, president of Sierra Leone, speaks at the start of the Transforming Education Summit at United Nations headquarters, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Several gunmen attacked major detention centers in the Sierra Leonean capital city on Sunday and freed or abducted inmates, moments after targeting the country’s main military barracks, a government spokesman said.

The detention centers, including the Pademba Road Prisons — holding more than 2,000 inmates — were attacked just as security forces fought to restore calm during sustained shootouts at the military barracks, according to Information Minister Chernor Bah.

“The prisons were overrun (and) some prisoners were abducted by the assailants while many others were released,” Bah said. Security forces managed to “push back” the assailants to the outskirts of the city where fighting continues, he added.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio earlier declared a nationwide curfew in response to the attacks.

The unidentified gunmen attacked the military armory within the Wilberforce barracks in the capital, Freetown, early in the morning, President Julius Maada Bio tweeted, adding that they were driven back by security forces and “calm has been restored.”

“As the combined team of our Security Forces continue to root out the remnant of the fleeing renegades, a nationwide curfew has been declared and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors,” he said.

The country’s Ministry of Information and Education also said in a statement that t he government and security forces are “in control” of the situation, trying to dismiss fears of a possible escalation of violence in the country whose population of 8 million people is among the poorest in the world, having some of the lowest scores on the U.N. Human Development Index.

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An Associated Press journalist in the capital said that gunshots were still heard in the city hours after the government assured that the situation was under control, although it wasn’t clear who was behind the exchange of fire, nor if any arrests were made.

SEE ALSO:  39 die in stampede during army recruitment exercise

No details have been immediately given about the gunmen or the reason for the attack, which comes months after Bio was reelected for a second term in a disputed vote in which the main opposition party accused the electoral commission of rigging the results.

Videos posted online showed soldiers patrolling Freetown’s empty streets and captured the loud blasts of gunshots at dawn. The AP couldn’t immediately verify the authenticity of the videos.

West Africa’s regional economic bloc ECOWAS — of which Sierra Leone is a member — described the incident as a plot “to acquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order” in the country. The bloc has in recent months tried to reverse the surge in coups in West and Central Africa, which has recorded eight military takeovers since 2020, the latest in Niger and Gabon this year.

“ECOWAS reiterates its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government,” the bloc said in a statement.

Bio was reelected in Sierra Leone’s fifth presidential election since the end of a brutal 11-year civil war — more than two decades ago — which left tens of thousands of people dead and destroyed the country’s economy.

He continues to face criticism because of debilitating economic conditions. Nearly 60% of Sierra Leone’s population is facing poverty, with the youth unemployment rate being one of the highest in West Africa.

Two months after Bio won the disputed vote, police said they arrested several people, including senior military officers planning to use protests “to undermine peace” in the country.

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A protest against the government in August last year resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people, including six police officers.

SEE ALSO:  34 declared wanted over attempted coup in Sierra Leone

 

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39 die in stampede during army recruitment exercise

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39 die in stampede during army recruitment exercise
• The high level of youth unemployment in Congo-Brazzaville makes a career in the army attractive (Image: GETTY)

At least 37 people have died in a stampede during an army recruitment drive at a stadium in Congo-Brazzaville, the government has said.

Some people tried to force their way through stadium’s gates in the capital, Brazzaville, causing the stampede, residents have been quoted as saying.

Last week, the army announced plans to recruit about 1,500 people between the ages of 18 and 25.

Many people were injured in the crush, a government statement said.

It did not give a number, but said that a “crisis unit” has been set up, the AFP news agency reports.

According to the Associated Press agency, as many as 700 people a day have been registering over the last week at recruitment centres.

Youth unemployment is at around 42% in Congo-Brazzaville, with many young people seeing the army one of the few places where they can secure a job.

Details of what exactly happened at Michel d’Ornano stadium are sketchy. Thousands of young people had reportedly gathered outside the stadium on Monday.

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Local sources have told the BBC the registration process was to open on Tuesday morning.

Brandon Tsetou, a graduate who survived the crush, said he had queued since early on Monday.

“According to the organisers, it was to be the last day. That’s why many of us decided to wait until late into the night, hoping to register,” he told AP.

“Some were so impatient that they had to force their way in, causing a stampede that left a number of people dead or injured, which we deplore.” (BBC)

SEE ALSO:  39 die in stampede during army recruitment exercise

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