The Dusit hotel, which was part of the complex attacked by terrorists in Nairobi in January 2019, has reopened. 21 people died in the attack, bringing the number killed in terror attacks in Kenya to at least300 in the past five years. These attacks have been traumatic for many of those affected. Stephen Asatsa tells The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner what needs to be done to support them.
How does trauma affect people who are directly or indirectly involved in a terror attack?
When a person feels like they’re in a crisis, the hindbrain (lower back of the brain) is activated while the forebrain is switched off. The hindbrain deals with survival functions: fight, flight or freeze. The forebrain deals with higher functions like logical reasoning, language and imagination. The forebrain isn’t helpful in times of crisis because it’s slow to make decisions.
This means that initial interventions must target the hindbrain to normalise the body from its state of emergency. Meditation, breathing exercises, massage and physical activities – like dance and games – can all help to relax the hindbrain. Later it can process the traumatic event during long term counselling.
Once the body returns to normal, it is important to track unprocessed emotions and help the survivors to express them. Social support is one of survivors’ greatest resources for survivors. This can be offered by strengthening family and friend ties to promote long term recovery, even after counselling stops. Family members should also be actively involved in crisis interventions.
Untreated trauma is dangerous. It may develop into other mental health issues that lead to drug abuse, depression, anger and hatred.
What does research show about the type of trauma people experience and the effectiveness of counselling at overcoming it?
Threatening events lead to direct or secondary trauma. Direct trauma involves physically experiencing or witnessing the event – people who survive the threatening event, as well as those who may not have faced the threat but saw others being attacked. It would also apply to rescue staff like the police, fire fighters and doctors.
Secondary trauma involves people who were not physically present during the event but learn about it through others or through the mass media.
Symptoms are similar in both types of trauma. Traumatised people tend to be hyper vigilant, agitated, suffer from negative mood swings and avoid reminders of the crisis. But often, those who experience secondary trauma are neglected.
Yet research shows that from a single traumatic event, there are instances where more people have secondary trauma. For example a survey on the effects of terrorism in Pakistan reported 3.9% physical effects (direct trauma – meaning they were present at the location of the crisis), while 79.2% reported mental health effects (secondary trauma).
How prevalent has counselling been for those affected by terror attacks in Kenya?
The use of counselling services in Kenya is very low. During the crisis intervention that followed the 1998 terror attack on the US embassy in Nairobi, just 15% of survivors sought counselling services.
In my study on the Garissa University terror attack survivors – in which 148 people were killed – I found that most survivors received counselling services. Only 16.5% didn’t. But a large number only had “critical incident debriefing”, which usually involves fewer than three counselling sessions. Survivors may need longer forms of intervention to give the healing process enough time.
I also found that women were more likely to attend long-term counselling. This could be attributed to cultural reasons: men are socialised not to ask for help even when they need it.
What type of counselling works best in these situations?
Many different approaches can be used to help terror survivors.
Psychological first aid focuses on initial emotional support offered to victims of trauma in a bid to reduce distress and prevent further trauma. This is not necessarily offered by mental health practitioners, but by any available helper.
Critical incident debriefing is offered to trauma victims with the aim of preventing the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe condition that could drastically affect a person’s normal functioning by keeping them withdrawn, highly agitated, restless, and sometimes suicidal.
These trauma interventions are the most prevalent forms of psychological support in times of crises. But they are short-term. Missing out on long-term counselling poses a threat to survivors’ mental health. Survivors of the Garissa terrorist attack, for instance, pinpointed a few painful experiences that slowed their recovery. These included the short term nature of counselling, counselling being stopped too soon and relatives being excluded from crisis intervention.
There needs to be a shift to long-term counselling which targets the survivors, their family members, rescue workers, counsellors, news reporters and the general public.
Are there lessons from other countries on how best to support victims?
There’s a lack of awareness in Kenya about the importance of mental health. This may be partly why people don’t seek out counselling. In some developed countries, by contrast, mental health is fully entrenched in public health institutions.
In Kenya, the mental health sector is not well regulated, compromising the quality of services. Legal frameworks – like the Counsellors and Psychologists Act of 2014 – haven’t been implemented because of competing professional bodies that make it hard to monitor the profession. The ministry of health also seems reluctant to register and license counsellors and psychologists, which could be the reason why humanitarian organisations often take the lead in coordinating psychologists during a crisis.
If the government allocated funds to mental health, and took it seriously, there would be better services for survivors of traumatic events, like terrorism, who would receive proper psychological help.
The Department of State Services (DSS) said it had exposed a plan by suspected terrorists to stage series of coordinated attacks using explosives in different cities across the country during the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
According to Punch, the suspected terrorists’ plan was to hit populated places like markets, public parks, public processions, recreation centres, as well worship areas.
The DSS said that the plan by the suspected terrorists was to attack Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna and Maiduguri.
A director with the agency, Nnana Nnochiri, who briefed journalists in Abuja on Friday, however, said Nigerians should not worry and go about their activities as usual.
Nnochiri said, “In the past few weeks, this service has uncovered a sinister plot by terrorist elements to stage series of coordinated attacks using explosives on different cities across the country.
“Their aim was to hit on soft targets such as markets, public parks, public processions, recreation centres, as well as worship centres especially the Eid Praying grounds and other densely populated areas during the forthcoming Eid-el-Fitr Sallah celebrations.”
Consequently, Nnochiri said that the service had arrested two suspects in connection with the foiled planned attacks.
“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians.
Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive.
Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.
The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.
The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.
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In the past few months, the Islamic State has made its intentions toward Copts well known. “Our favorite prey” they called my co-religionists in a February video. Their barbaric attacks have left more than 100 Copts dead in the last few months alone. The Northern Sinai is now “Christianfrei,” or free of Christians.
Many serious questions will be asked in the next few days. How has the Islamic State been able to build such an extensive network inside mainland Egypt? Is the Islamic State moving its operations to Egypt as it faces pressure in Iraq and Syria? And why has Egypt repeatedly failed to prevent these attacks?
All of these questions are important and require thoughtful deliberation by the Egyptian regime and its allies around the world. But these are not the questions on the minds of my Coptic friends at home. They have far more intimate concerns: Am I putting my children’s lives at risk by remaining here? Should we leave? And what country will take us?
In February 2014, I met the head of the Jewish community in Egypt,Magda Haroun. Today, she told me, there are 15 Jews left in the country, out of a population that once stood at nearly 100,000. Ms. Haroun said she was afraid the Copts would soon follow.
At the time I thought the prospect was overblown. There are millions of Copts in Egypt.
Where would all of them possibly go? Surely some will remain, I reasoned. But I had left the country myself in 2009 — and so have hundreds of thousands of Copts. Even before the recent wave of attacks, Copts have been packing their bags and bidding 2,000 years of history farewell. As more find permanent homes in the West, more are able to bring relatives over. Ms. Haroun was right.
The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor — where one of the giants of the modern Coptic church, Father Matthew the Poor, was ordained in 1948 — is the only remaining monastery of 35 that once existed in the area. Copts had always been tied to Egypt, their very name derived from the Greek word for the country, Aigýptios. Despite waves of persecution at the hands of everyone from Roman and Byzantine emperors, Arab and Muslim governors and Egypt’s modern presidents, they have refused to leave. Their country once gave refuge to the young Jesus. Where will they now find sanctuary?
In 1954 an Egyptian movie called “Hassan, Marcus and Cohen” was produced. The comedy’s title represented characters from Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In 2008, a new movie, “Hassan and Marcus” hit theaters. It warned of the growing sectarian strife between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims. Fifty years from now, it seems likely that the sequel will just be “Hasan.”
A terrorist attack hit a pop concert in Manchester on Monday evening. Here is what we know so far:
What has happened?
Police have confirmed that at least 22 people were killed in the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. Some of them are children.
Officers said a further 59 people were injured amid reports of at least one explosion that hit the venue shortly after the concert finished.
Theresa May, the prime minister, confirmed the incident was a terrorist attack as she addressed cameras outside Downing Street. Police and security services believe they have identified the bomber, but no name has yet been announced, she said.
It is the deadliest terror attack to hit the UK since the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005.
The first victim has been named as 18-year-old Georgina Callander, her school, Runshaw College, announced.
Police say their priority is to establish whether the killer was acting alone or part of a network.
The police say they believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated.
About 21,000 people are reported to have been at the concert at the time of the explosion.
Multiple witnesses said they heard an explosion, with one saying the blast shook the building, before “everyone screamed and tried to get out”.
A 23-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday morning in south Manchester, the police said. The Arndale Centre shopping mall was evacuated and a man was arrested there but this is unconnected to the attacks, the police said.
Where did it happen?
Manchester Arena said the incident took place “outside the venue in a public space”.
The blast was reported to have hit the foyer of the building at about 10:30pm, British Transport police said.
Victims have been taken to eight hospitals across the Manchester area.
Large parts of the city around the arena have been sealed off. Victoria station has been closed and is expected to be closed throughout Tuesday.
Police have asked the public to avoid Manchester city centre as they continued to work in the area.
Police have carried out a controlled explosion in the Cathedral Gardens area but the item destroyed was not suspicious.
The reactions so far
Theresa May has said her thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”. In a televised appearance outside 10 Downing Street, she attacked the “appalling, sickening cowardice” of the bombing.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, described the bombing as a “barbaric attack” that targeted “young people, children out at a pop concert”.
May chaired a meeting of the Cobra government emergency committee at 9am and will attend another later today. She will travel to Manchester to meet the chief constable, mayor and emergency services, she said.
Manchester’s new mayor, Andy Burnham, who attended the Cobra meeting via video link, said there would be a vigil in Albert Square on Tuesday evening.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, have expressed their sympathies for the victims.
The US president, Donald Trump, gave a statement from his trip to Israel in which he called the attackers “evil losers”.
General election campaigning has been suspended.
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said additional police would be on duty in London throughout the weekend.
Police have issued a number for people to call if they are concerned about relatives or loved ones: +44 0161 856 9400
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families, so many families, of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” Trump said, in his first comment on the Monday night attack at a concert Manchester, England.
While police believe the suspect was acting alone, investigations are ongoing to establish if he was part of a network.
Trump said: “So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are.”
“They’re losers, and we’ll have more of them, but they’re losers, just remember that,” he added.
Trump delivered his remarks alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where the two men met to advance peace talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abbas also expressed his “warm condolences” to the victims of the attack and to the British people.
Trump called on all countries to unite in the fight against terrorism and proclaimed: “This wicked ideology must be obliterated.”
“Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed. We cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people. And in today’s attack it was mostly innocent children. The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever,” Trump said.
As many as 400 police were deployed overnight, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said early Tuesday. He added that residents should expect to see more armed officers on the streets.
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity,” he said.
If confirmed as a terror incident, it would be the deadliest attack on British soil since the 2005 London bombings, which killed 52 people.
The Niger State Emergency Management Agency has said death in the attack at Epogi community in the Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger has risen to 29.
Director General of SEMA, Mr Ibrahim Inga, told reporters on Tuesday in Minna that 21 people were killed during the attack while three bodies were recovered from a river.
He added that three other victims died at the Federal Medical Centre, Bida.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalled that 21 people were killed on May 14 when gunmen suspected to be herdsmen invaded the community.
Inga said the gunmen stormed the community at about 6am when Muslims were having their morning prayers in a mosque and killed 21 on the spot.
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He explained that there was an argument between one Alhaji Yakubu Yuguda, a herdsman who came to settle on a portion of land in the community, and some members of the community in 2016.
Inga said further that in the ensuing argument, a boy was killed and the matter was reported to the police, leading to the arrest of Yuguda, who was later released.
He said that after the incident, the community enjoyed relative peace until May 14, when the village was attacked.
The director-general disclosed that the state’s Deputy Governor, Mr Ahmed Ketso, had visited the community and condoled with the victims.
He said an assessment had been carried out by SEMA to provide relief materials to victims, adding that normalcy had returned to the community.
Inga called on members of the community to return to their homes as security operatives had been deployed in the area.
Meanwhile, five persons were killed and six other injured in suicide attacks on Konduga, a town in Borno State, the police said on Tuesday.
The police, in a statement by its spokesman in Borno State, Victor Isuku, a deputy superintendent of police, said the incident occurred at about 9:30pm on Monday.
He revealed that the attacks were by three female suicide bombers who all lost their lives in the incident that also claimed two other lives and injured six others.
The statement read, “Information received from the District Police Officer Konduga, is that on 15/5/17 at about 21:30hrs, three female suicide bombers detonated IED strapped on their bodies at Shuwa settlement of Mandarari ward, Konduga, killing themselves and two others.”
Again suicide bombers struck last night May 3, 2017, at 10.05pm in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The three female teenage suicide bombers attempted to attack a military outpost popularly known as “Guantanamo” along Muna garage.
After being sighted by the troops in their desperate attempt to gain access to the premises, the bombers were shot leading to the explosion of their concealed IEDs.
The spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the North-East, Abdulkadir Ibrahim confirmed that the corpses of suicide bombers were evacuated by joint NEMA/BOSEMA Emergency Response teams.
Abdulkadir stated that one security personnel who was injured in the attack is currently receiving treatment.
At least 34 were killed and 100 injured in an explosion inside a church in the Egyptian Nile delta city of Tanta on Sunday, Egyptian Health Ministry confirmed.
An explosive device believed to have been planted in the church detonated killing worshipers who were marking Palm Sunday, state-run media reported.
The blast occurred hours after a bombing rocked a Coptic church in Tanta in Egypt’s Nile Delta, killing at least 34 people and injuring 100.
The Interior Ministry says the blast was suicide bombing.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The death toll is expected to rise,
This is the second major attack on a church after the bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December, many of them women and children, in the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in years.
Isis claims responsibility
Isis claimed responsibility for two bomb blasts which struck Coptic churches inEgypt on Sunday, killing at least 47 members of the country’s largest religious minority as they celebrated Palm Sunday.
The bombings were the latest in a series of assaults attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority, who account for about 10% of the population and have been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists. The attacks on Palm Sunday worshippers comes weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit Egypt.
Video from the moment the blast struck the Mar Girgis church in Tanta just before 10am on Sunday showed the sounds of a choir gathered to sing hymns celebrating the Christian holy day, rapidly turning to screams of anguish and panic. Egypt’s state television later reported that a bomb planted under one of the pews ripped through the church.
“As I was passing by the Church, I heard a huge blast – I’d never heard a sound like this,” said Salah el Arby, a taxi driver in the town of Tanta. “People began running out of the church – shouting and afraid.”
“I believe this attack was the fault of the security forces,” he continued, citing a bomb previously diffused by police at Mar Girgis church in the town on the 29 March. “The police didn’t protect the church on an important day like today.”
A local Isis affiliate group claimed a suicide bombing at a church in Cairo in December that killed around 30 people, mostly women, as well as a string of killings in the restive Sinai Peninsula that caused hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas of the country.
The Sinai-based Isis affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, but has also claimed bombings that killed civilians, including the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai in 2015, which killed all 224 people on board and devastated Egypt’s tourism industry.
Attacker shouted ‘Don’t forget Aleppo’ after opening fire on ambassador
Putin says ‘provocation’ aimed at sabotaging Russo-Turkish relations
The Russian ambassador to Turkey has been shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger.
The chilling attack on Monday evening, which was captured on video, appeared to be a backlash against Russian military involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Andrei Karlov was attacked at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara by a man believed to be an off-duty Turkish police officer. Karlov was several minutes into a speech when he was shot. Footage of the attack showed a man dressed in a suit and tie standing calmly behind the ambassador. He then pulled out a gun, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots.
After firing at the ambassador, the man shouted in Turkish: “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria. Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.”
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, called the killing a “provocation” aimed at sabotaging a rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara and attempts to resolve the conflict in Syria.
“The crime that was committed is without doubt a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalisation of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran,” he said in televised comments.
Putin said: “There can be only one answer to this – stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this.”
Putin said that Russian officials would be dispatched to Ankara to investigate the killing. “We have to know who directed the hand of the killer,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov who said, following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusgolu, that those behind the shooting “were seeking to derail the process of normalising Russia-Turkey ties primarily with a goal to prevent an efficient fight against terrorism in Syria.”
Lavrov will meet with the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey later on Tuesday to discuss Syria.
The attacker was killed by Turkish special forces after they surrounded the gallery. Photographs from the aftermath appeared to show him lying dead on the floor. Three other people were wounded.
Local media outlets said security guards at the scene had told them that the killer showed a police ID to enter the gallery. The Turkish interior ministry named the attacker as Mevlut Mert Altıntas, an officer in Ankara’s riot police squad, who was born in 1994 in Aydin and graduated from Izmir police academy.
The shooter’s family home in the western province of Aydin was later searched and his mother, father and sister were detained, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. . Altıntas’s house in Ankara was raided and his roommate, also a police officer, was also taken into custody, it said.
“It has saddened us and our people. I offer my condolences to the Russian federation and the Russian people,” Suleyman Soylu, the Turkish interior minster, told reporters.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called Putin on Monday evening to brief him on the attack.
The Russian president cancelled a planned trip to the theatre on Monday evening and called an urgent meeting with his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the heads of the security services.
In a bizarre coincidence, Putin had planned to see the play Woe from Wit, written by the poet and diplomat Alexander Griboyedov, who was murdered by a mob when ambassador to Tehran in 1829.
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign relations committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “A tragedy of this scale has not happened since the time of Griboyedov. There have been attacks on our Russian and Soviet diplomats, but not something this dramatic.”
Kosachev said the repercussions of the killing on Russian-Turkish relations would depend on the details of the incident: “It could have been a planned terrorist attack by extremists or it could be the work of a lone maniac. After we know, we’ll be able to understand how this will affect Russian-Turkish relations.”
Kosachev’s counterpart in the lower house, Alexey Pushkov, said Karlov’s death was “a result of political and media hysteria around Aleppo sown by the enemies of Russia”.
Turkish security officials and Erdoğan supporters have alleged that the gunman was linked to the exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom they accuse of orchestrating a failed coup in July. A spokesman for Gülen described the accusation as “laughable” and told Reuters that it was intended to cover up for lax security.
Later on Monday a gunman had attempted to enter the US embassy in Ankara and fired eight shots into the air. The man was overpowered by security guards and taken into custody by police. No one was hurt in the incident. The embassy said its missions in Ankara, Istanbul and the southern city of Adana would be “closed for normal operations on Tuesday.”
Internationally, the killing of Karlov throws into doubt the ongoing evacuation deal for civilians in besieged east Aleppo, an agreement that was brokered by Turkey and Russia. A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Moscow was the main reason the deal did not fall apart over the weekend, despite the objections of Iranian and jihadi interlocutors.
The ambassador had been part of discussions with Turkey that led to an evacuation of east Aleppo getting under way late last week. Russia and Iran engineered the deal allowing civilians and rebel fighters in Aleppo to be evacuated, with Turkey acting as the brokers for the Syrian opposition in the discussion.
The attack comes the day before the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, is due in Moscow for Syria talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts. In the weeks running up to the fall of east Aleppo, the Russians, Turks and Iranians have increasingly been working together on Syria’s future, to the exclusion of western powers, including the US, as well as the Gulf states, normally the sponsors of the Syrian opposition.
Many Syrian opposition figures fear they will be marginalised by the Putin initiative and his new triumvirate.
In his time as ambassador, Karlov presided over a rocky period in Russo-Turkish relations. When Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane in November 2015, Moscow responded furiously, with Putin calling it “a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists”.
Earlier this year, the pair reconciled, after Erdoğan wrote a letter of apology to Putin. The two leaders met at a summit in August amid a distinct thaw in relations and in what resembles a loose anti-western alliance.
Kosachev, who knew Karlov personally, said: “The Turkish period in his career saw fantastic highs and lows. Everyone was hoping for another high.”
However, Russian actions in Syria have angered many Turks. In recent days, protests in Istanbul against Russian involvement in Syria and Aleppo, including a demonstration in front of the Russian consulate on the city’s famed İstiklal Avenue, have occurred on a regular basis. The protests have often had a significant Islamist contingent.
The assassination of the Russian ambassador, and the security lapse that allowed it to happen, will anger Putin but, in the medium term, it is possible that the two leaders could unite in an anti-terror alliance.
Karlov was a career diplomat who had previously served as ambassador to North Korea. The British ambassador to Turkey, Richard Moore, described him as a “quietly spoken, hospitable professional”.
SOURCE: The Bloomgist/The Guardian/Business Insider
An explosive called Tannerite, which is used in target practice and is readily available in sporting goods stores, was the explosive element used in the West 23rd Street device, federal officials said. It was also suspected to have been used in the unexploded device.
Investigators are looking at links between the incidents and the pipe bomb that exploded in New Jersey on Saturday.
On Sunday night, FBI agents stopped “a vehicle of interest in the investigation” into the Manhattan explosion, according to an FBI spokeswoman, Kelly Langmesser. A government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation told the Associated Press that five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in lower Manhattan.
The Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, told a crowd in Colorado that “a bomb went off” before officials released details. He told the crowd “we’d better get very tough, folks”.
Authorities are trying to establish whether there are any links between the devices and a mass stabbing in St Cloud, Minnesota. At least nine people were injured in the Minnesota attack and the suspect was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. None of the injured sustained life-threatening wounds. A statement posted online by the Isis-linked Amaq agency said the perpetrator was a “soldier of the Islamic State”, though the FBI said no link with the group had been found.
Five more suspected devices found in New Jersey
Five suspected explosive devices have been found in a backpack near a train station in New Jersey as the security alert gripping America ratcheted up following the Manhattan bombing.
One of the devices exploded when a bomb squad robot tried to disarm it near Elizabeth train station, the local mayor said.
Christian Bollwage said the device exploded shortly after 12.30am on Monday. The FBI was leading the investigation and working to disarm the other four devices.
Bollwage told CNN: “The robots that were going in to disarm it cut a wire and it exploded. I don’t know the technological aspect of that. I know there are other devices. I don’t know what they are made up of but they are going to have to be removed and all the fragments from the other pieces are going to have to be picked up so the FBI can investigate this fully.”
He told NBC: “Based on the loudness, I think people could have been severely hurt or injured if they had been in the vicinity.”
There were no reports of injuries. Bollwage said to expect more detonations.
He said two men had called police and reported seeing wires and a pipe coming out of a package after finding it at about 8.30pm on Sunday.
New Jersey Transit said services were suspended between Newark Liberty airport and Elizabeth while New Jersey-bound Amtrak trains were being held at New York Penn station.
Mike Whitaker, an FBI spokesman in Newark, said: “We are responding with our local law enforcement partners,” but declined to give further details.
Investigators earlier said the bomb that rocked Chelsea neighbourhood in Manhattan contained residue of an explosive often used for target practice as investigators followed multiple leads into the attack.
Trump and Clinton responses to New York bombing prompt fierce debate
Saturday night’s bombing on 23rd Street in New York brought questions of experience and temperament to the fore in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, after the Republican seized on the explosion to argue the US is in peril.
At a campaign rally in Colorado on Saturday night, Trump declared the explosion to have been caused by a bomb, hours before police voiced any public conclusions. “Just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” Trump said.
The Trump campaign has not said whether the businessman received information privately from New York officials or was speculating without evidence. In contrast, Clinton did what most officials do after an uncertain and dangerous incident: urge caution and patience for conclusions from police.
“I think it’s important to know the facts about any incident like this,” she told reporters on her campaign plane. “That’s why it’s critical to support the first responders, the investigators who are looking into it trying to determine what did happen.
“I think it’s also wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions because we are just in the beginning stages of trying to determine what happened.”
Two hours after Trump’s remarks, New York mayor Bill de Blasio described the bombing, which injured 29 people, as “an intentional act”. But De Blasio, NYPD commissioner James O’Neill and Governor Andrew Cuomo all stressed on Sunday that they have not found evidence so far of any link to international terrorism and are considering any suspect and motive.
On Sunday afternoon, Clinton called the bombing one of three “apparent terrorist attacks” alongside pending investigations into pipe bombs in New Jersey and a mass stabbing in Minnesota. The FBI is investigating the stabbing as a “potential terrorist attack”; police have ascribed no motive or suspect to the pipe bombs, which officials said on Sunday had not been established to be linked to the New York explosion.
“I pray for all of those who were wounded, and for their families,” Clinton said in a statement. “Once again, we saw the bravery of our first responders who run toward danger to help others. Their quick actions saved lives.”
Clinton then reiterated her outline for an anti-terror plan, including an “intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks” and “work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda”. Both Clinton and Trump’s proposals largely mirror the counter-terrorism priorities of Barack Obama, who has waged a bombing campaign abroad and authorized extensive surveillance online.
Police have referred to the incident as a suspected terror attack.
At 5.52pm gunshots were fired at a McDonald’s near the Olympia shopping centre (OEZ) in the northern Moosach area of the Bavarian capital.
A major police operation, including elite anti-terror units, is under way in the city. Police have said up to three suspects armed with rifles are being hunted.
A video appears to show a gunman firing a pistol on the rooftop car park of the shopping centre.
Police have said all customers have now been evacuated from the shopping centre.
The German government has set up a crisis response committee and the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, currently on a visit to the US, is returning home.
Residents have been warned via Munich’s smartphone warning system to avoid public places, stay in their homes where possible, and turn on the TV and radio.
Munich central station is closed and has been evacuated. The underground system and bus network have also been suspended. Drivers on the motorway into Munich have been asked to clear the road for police and emergency service vehicles.
Hospitals throughout Munich are on emergency alert and in “catastrophe mode”.
What we don’t know
No claim of responsibility has been made and there is no indication so far of the attackers’ motives. Police have said they cannot confirm any Islamist link.
No one has so far been arrested and officials have no indication of the attackers’ identity or whereabouts.
Police have said they could not confirm earlier reports of possible other shootings elsewhere in the city, including in a large square known locally as Stachus.
It is not yet clear how many attackers opened fire, where, or whether the shootings, described as a “rampage” by police, amounted to a coordinated or planned attack.
Munich is in lockdown after a gunman opened fire at a shopping centre, killing at least nine people and injuring several others, amid police warnings that one or more attackers may be on the loose in the city.
The violence began just before 6pm, when a man opened fire at a branch of McDonald’s outside the Olympia shopping centre, police said.
Video apparently shot outside the restaurant and shared on social media showed passersby fleeing in terror as a man holding a pistol calmly and indiscriminately opened fire.
“We believe this is a shooting rampage,” a police spokesman said. He did not have any details on the identity or motive of the gunman.
Police warned people in the Bavarian state capital to stay away from public places, amid fears that one or more armed people might still be on the run. Unconfirmed reports of shootings in at least three other places sparked panic across Munich.
All trains and public transport within and leading into and out of the city have been diverted and the city has been closed to traffic.
Police and ambulance crews were on site within minutes of receiving an emergency call at around 6pm. At least one attacker is believed to have fled the shopping centre and headed for a nearby U-Bahn station.
Witnesses reported hearing shots inside and outside the mall, known locally as the OEZ. “I was shopping when I heard three shots, then we ran out and about 40 seconds later we heard five shots from outside,” said Florian Horn, aged 33.
There were unconfirmed reports of shooting in central Karlsplatz, with taxi drivers urged not to pick up any passengers in the area, and reports of panic in the city’s historic heart, Marienplatz.
The police spokeswoman Claudia Kuenzel told the Associated Press there were “several dead and wounded” at the shopping centre but could not provide exact numbers.
“The shooter or shooters are still on the run” either in or around the mall, she said.
Shopping centre staff were still in hiding more than an hour after the attack, an employee told Reuters by telephone. “Many shots were fired, I can’t say how many but it’s been a lot,” the employee, who declined to be identified, said.
“All the people from outside came streaming into the store and I only saw one person on the ground who was so severely injured that he definitely didn’t survive. We have no further information, we’re just staying in the back in the storage rooms. No police have approached us yet.”
Cansu Muyan, who lives near the shopping centre said she had been inside with her sister when the attack began. “I suddenly saw everyone running past. Then a shopkeeper told us all to leave as quickly as possible so we all started running as well,” she said.
A man was weeping nearby, terrified because he could not reach his daughter who had been inside the centre at the time of the shooting.
A man who worked at a nearby petrol station said there had been chaos outside the centre. “We see just ambulances and firemen and police but all this area is evacuated, all the streets,” he told the BBC.
“Now [there] are no cars, just on the side of the streets. All of the streets are blocked. I see that the people are scared. Everybody are running around.”
One entrance into the centre comes direct from a subway, and shoppers milling around outside the building after it was evacuated said they thought the gunman may have entered that way before leaving by a second exit.
The Olympia shopping centre is a two-tiered, glass-covered mall that was built on the site of the 1972 Olympics. The Munich Games were overshadowed by a terrorist attack in which 11 Israeli sportsmen and a German policeman were killed after being taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists.
It is the second attack in Bavaria in less than a week. Security forces have been on high alert after a teenage refugee attacked train passengers near the city of Würzburg with an axe and a knife, leaving two people in intensive care.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the train attack, but authorities have said the teen likely acted alone.
The British Foreign Office has issued an alert warning British citizens in Munich to follow the instructions of the authorities. “You are advised to avoid this location and follow the advice of local authorities,” it said inupdated travel advice on Germany.