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77 arrested in violent protests over police killing of teenager

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(picture BBC)

At least 77 people have been arrested in France during a second night of unrest triggered by the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old driver by police.

The teenager, named as Nahel M, was shot at point-blank range as he refused a traffic stop and drove away. Videos shared on social media showed cars being set alight and shops being ransacked on Wednesday across Paris.

A prison in Fresnes was also attacked with fireworks by rioters overnight, AFP reported. The news agency said videos showed about 20 young men attacking the entrance to the prison with fireworks and projectiles. Videos shared to social media showed an alarm sounding during the attack.

Meanwhile, in Nanterre, the Paris area Nahel was from, authorities were forced to partially withdraw, Le Monde reported.

The violence was particularly concentrated around the Pablo-Picasso district there, where young people took to the streets after the sun set. “They’re backing off! Let’s go guys, let’s go, death to cops!” one yelled, while various cars and rubbish bins were set alight. While the violence was concentrated in that district, protesters targeted other regions across Paris, with many firing fireworks into police stations.

In the northern city of Lille, footage posted online showed people inside the town hall of the Mons-en-Barœul suburb setting documents and chairs alight.

And elsewhere, in the western town of Rennes, about 300 people gathered to pay tribute to the teen – some of whom also lit fires and were dispersed by police.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the shooting of Nahel was “unforgivable”. But his comments drew an angry reaction from police unions, who accused him of rushing to judge the officers involved. The Alliance Police union called for them to be presumed innocent until found guilty, while the rival Unité SGP Police also spoke of political interventions that encouraged “anti-cop hatred”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he would be taking legal action against another group, France Police, after it published what he called an “unacceptable and abject” tweet seeking to justify the teenager’s killing. The now deleted tweet said “bravo” to the officers who “opened fire on a young criminal” and blamed the teen’s parents for his death, claiming they had been “unable to educate their son”.

(BBC)



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Foreign News

Google accused of directing motorist to drive off collapsed bridge

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The bridge collapsed nine years before the death (pic BBC)

The family of a US man who drowned after driving off a collapsed bridge are claiming that he died because Google failed to update its maps.

Philip Paxson’s family are suing the company over his death, alleging that Google negligently failed to show the bridge had fallen nine years earlier. The case was filed in civil court in Wake County on Tuesday.

Mr Paxson died in September 2022 after attempting to drive over the damaged bridge in Hickory, North Carolina. A spokesperson for Google said the company was reviewing the allegations.

Paxson, a father of two, was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party at a friend’s house and was in an unfamiliar neighbourhood at the time of his death, according to the family’s lawsuit. His wife had driven his two daughters home earlier, and he stayed behind to help clean up.

“Unfamiliar with local roads, he relied on Google Maps, expecting it would safely direct him home to his wife and daughters,” lawyers for the family said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google’s outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned.”

Local residents had repeatedly contacted Google to have them change their online maps after the bridge collapsed in 2013, the suit claims.

Barriers that were normally placed across the bridge entrance were missing due to vandalism, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The lawsuit is also suing three local companies, arguing they had a duty to maintain the bridge.

“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with so little regard for human life,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said in a statement.

“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” a spokesman for Google told AP News. “Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”

(BBC)

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Venezuela sends 11,000 troops to retake prison

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Some relatives of inmates cried when they were told the prisoners would be relocated (pic BBC)

Venezuela has sent 11,000 troops to regain control of one of its biggest prisons that had been overrun by a powerful criminal gang.

The Tocoron prison, in the north of the country, was under the control of the Tren de Aragua mega-gang for years. Members were able to roam freely around the prison, which had hotel-like facilities including a pool, nightclub and a mini zoo, local media reported.

Officials said the 6,000 inmates would be transferred to other prisons.

Many free residents were living inside the prison alongside sentenced inmates. After authorities announced that prisoners would be relocated, some relatives cried outside, unsure where they would go next. “I am waiting to hear where they are taking my husband. I was living in there, but they kicked us out,” Gladys Hernandez told AFP news agency.

It reported that journalists saw security guards carrying motorcycles, televisions and microwaves from the jail.

In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, the Venezuelan Interior Ministry congratulated officers for regaining the prison and dismantling “a centre of conspiracy and crime”.

The leader of the Tren de Aragua gang, Hector Guerrero Flores, was serving a 17 year sentence inside the prison for murder and drug trafficking.

However, he was so powerful that he reportedly used to come and go freely from the prison before becoming a full-time inmate, according to Carlos Nieto, from a coordinator with A Window to Freedom.

(BBC)

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Gabon partially suspended from Commonwealth after coup

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A file photo shows Gabon's ousted president Ali Bongo at the United Nations in 2022

Gabon has been partially suspended from the Commonwealth after military commanders carried out a coup ousting President Ali Bongo.

The decision was made by Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting on the margins of the United Nations general assembly.

Leaders called on Gabon to uphold the values and principles of the Commonwealth. They asked the country to hold credible elections as soon as possible.

Gabon’s military ousted Mr Bongo from power shortly after he was declared winner of the 2023 presidential election. Bongo had been in power in the oil-rich country since 2009, when he succeeded his father who had ruled the country for 41 years. He was initially placed under house arrest as military leaders took over, but was later freed and given permission to travel abroad for medical check-ups.

The foreign ministers – sitting as the Commonwealth ministerial action group – have requested Gabon guarantee Mr Bongo’s safety and that of his family, and said in a statement that they “strongly condemned the unconstitutional removal of the elected government from office”. They said Gabon’s suspension was in place “pending the restoration of democracy”. It excludes Gabon from all Commonwealth intergovernmental meetings and events, including ministerial and heads of government meetings.

The new prime minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, was installed as interim prime minister in September, after Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the coup  became Gabon’s transitional president.

Commonwealth ministers gave the new leaders of Gabon two years from 30 August 2023 to hold credible elections. They added in the statement that if progress was not made in that time, the country may be removed from the group altogether.

(BBC)

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