Home' Greymouth Star : March 16th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Monday, March 16, 2015
IS using chlorine gas: Kurds
Iraqi Kurdish authorities said at
the weekend they had evidence that
Islamic State had used chlorine gas
as a chemical weapon against their
The Security Council of the semi-
autonomous Kurdish region said in a
statement the peshmerga had taken soil
and clothing samples after an Islamic
State suicide bombing in northern Iraq
in January. It said laboratory analysis
showed “the samples contained levels
of chlorine that suggested the substance
was used in weaponised form.” Chlorine
is a choking agent whose use as a
chemical weapon dates back to World
War One. It is banned under the 1997
Chemical Weapons Convention, which
prohibits all use of toxic agents on the
The Kurdish allegation could not be
Peter Sawczak, spokesman for the
Dutch-based Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said:
“ We have not had a request from Iraq
to investigate claims of use of chemical
weapons in Iraq, and the OPCW cannot
immediately verify the claims.” Chlorine
has been used “systematically” in the civil
war in neighbouring Syria, an OPCW
fact-finding mission found last year.
The OPCW would have to get its own
samples to confirm the use of chemical
weapons in a member State.
The Kurdish statement said the January
23 suicide car bombing by Islamic
State took place on a highway between
Mosul and the Syrian border. A Kurdish
security source said that the peshmerga
fired a rocket at the car carrying the
bomb so there were no casualties from
the incident except for the suicide
About a dozen peshmerga fighters
experienced symptoms of nausea,
vomiting, dizziness or weakness, the
The statement said the analysis was
carried out in a European Union-
certified laboratory after the soil and
samples were sent by the Kurdish
Regional Government to a “partner
nation” in the United States-led coalition
that is fighting Islamic State militants in
Iraq and Syria.
The source described the samples as
“ leftovers from the suicide bomber”, but
declined to identify the laboratory.
Iraq’s Kurds were the victims of the
deadliest chemical attack of modern
times when Saddam Hussein’s air force
bombed the town of Halabja in 1988,
gassing at least 5000 people to death.
The US Central Command said on
January 30 that an Islamic State chemical
weapons expert had been killed in a
coalition air strike six days earlier near
Mosul — the day after the car bombing
cited in the weekend statement.
The expert, Abu Malik, had been a
chemical weapons engineer during
the rule of Saddam Hussein and then
affiliated himself with al Qaeda in Iraq
in 2005, Central Command said at the
time. When he joined Islamic State,
it gave the insurgent force a chemical
weapons capability, it added.
The Pentagon in Washington had no
comment on the Kurdish statement.
international security at the University
of Bradford, and an expert on biological
and chemical warfare, said chlorine was
an easy gas to obtain. “It’s extensively
used, you only need to Google industrial
uses of chlorine, it’s extensively used
industrially,” he said.
Western diplomats in The Hague,
where the OPCW is based, have long
feared IS fighters would get their hands
on chemical weapons. It is not easy
to make such weapons and IS tried
to recruit experts when it took over
Mosul last year, diplomatic sources told
Reuters. They were not believed to have
Kurdish forces, backed by US-led air
strikes, have taken a prominent role
in fighting the Islamic State jihadists
who last year declared a cross-border
caliphate after seizing land in eastern
Syria and northern Iraq.
No international organisation has
documented the use of chemical
weapons on Iraqi territory in the war
The Kurdish authorities said in their
statement they had “long suspected that
(IS) fighters have been using chemical
agents” and cited video footage from
recent battles around the city of Tikrit
between the militants and Iraqi troops
and allied Shi’ite militias where “plumes
of orange smoke” were visible.
Media were also e-mailed video
footage and photos of what the Kurdish
Security Council identified as images
from the January 23 attack. Among the
photos were several of canisters lying on
the ground that the council says were
found at the site and contained chlorine.
A chlorine-tinged cloud of smoke rises into the air from a bomb detonated by Iraqi army and Shi’ite
fighters from Hashid Shaabi forces, in the town of al-Alam in Salahuddin province last Tuesday. Islamic
State fighters traded sniper fire and mortar rounds with Iraqi troops and allied Shi’ite militia forces
overnight in the city of Tikrit amid further reports the militants had obtained chlorine for possible use as a
Rio de Janeiro
The death toll from a tour bus’s horrific
plunge into a densely wooded ravine in
southern Brazil has risen to 54.
The vehicle went off a twisting
mountain road yesterday and crashed
400m to the bottom of the ravine, where
it lay a twisted mass of metal.
Firefighters pulled the victims from
the wreckage despite the difficult terrain
and the bodies were taken to a morgue,
“ It is with sadness that I learned the
news of the death of 54 people in a bus
accident in the Sierra Dona Francisca,”
President Dilma Rousseff said in a
statement issued overnight.
“ In this hour of pain and suffering, I
want to extend my condolences to the
families and friends who lost their loved
Among the dead were the driver and
Ten people were taken to hospital but
their conditions were not immediately
A government official in Santa Catarina
said the vehicle was probably carrying
59 people. The bus was supposed to be
carrying 50 people, authorities said.
Several ambulances and a helicopter
were dispatched to the area and recovery
efforts were set to resume later today.
Authorities said the chance of finding
any more sur vivors was slim.
Investigators will study the crash site
and then the bus will be removed from
According to witnesses, the driver lost
control on a downhill turn. — AFP
54 dead in Brazilian bus crash
An arrest has been made in connection
with last week’s shooting of two police
officers during a protest in Ferguson,
Missouri, the St Louis County Police
Department said overnight.
A St Louis County police official was
not immediately available to provide
further comment and no further details
The shooting sent a fresh jolt of tension
through a city that became a symbol of
racial conflict after a black teenager
was killed by a white police officer last
summer and a grand jury later returned
no criminal charges.
In the shooting on Thursday night,
a 41-year-old county police officer
suffered a shoulder wound and a
32-year-old colleague from a nearby
police department sustained a facial
wound that left a bullet lodged near his
ear. Both were treated and released by a
local hospital. — Reuters
Arrest in police shooting
Bombs outside two churches in
the Pakistani city of Lahore killed
14 people and wounded nearly
80 during Sunday ser vices, and
witnesses said quick action by a
security guard prevented many
A Pakistani Taliban splinter group
Islamist militants in Pakistan
have attacked Christians and other
religious minorities often over
the last decade or more. Many
Christians accuse the government
of doing little to protect them,
saying politicians are quick to offer
condolences after an attack but
slow to take any concrete steps to
The blasts, overnight New
Zealand time, occurred minutes
apart in a majority Christian suburb
of the eastern city.
Police said it seemed they targeted
two churches, one Catholic and one
Protestant, which are very close to
After the explosions, enraged
residents protested and lynched
two suspects, police said.
“I was sitting at a shop near the
church when a blast jolted the
area. I rushed towards the spot
and saw the security guard scuffle
with a man who was trying to enter
the church. After failing, he blew
himself up,” witness Amir Masih
“ I saw his body parts flying
through the air. ”
The guard died as well, he said. It
was not clear if the first blast was
also triggered by a suicide bomber,
Fourteen people were killed and
78 wounded, provincial director of
general health Zahid Per vaiz said.
“The rescue operation is still
under way and the death toll may
increase,” rescue ser vices spokesman
Sajjad Hussain said.
The Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-
Ahrar claimed responsibility.
Following the blast, enraged
residents lynched two men they
suspected of involvement, a police
official said. Journalist Riaz Ahmed
said he had seen the two burned
bodies at an intersection.
Protesters also began smashing up
shops and attacking vehicles. Police
and several politicians were chased
from the scene, residents said.
Pakistan’s police are notoriously
poorly trained and under-funded
and its court system overburdened
with a backlog of more than a
million cases. — Reuters
Twin bombings at churches kill 14
The leader of Britain’s anti-EU UK
Independence Party has offered to
do a deal with Prime Minister David
Cameron’s Conser vatives if they fail to
win a knife-edge May election outright.
With opinion polls showing it is likely
no single party will win a majority on
May 7, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said his
party and Northern Ireland’s Democratic
Unionist Party could combine forces to
support the Conser vatives on an issue-
Cameron has promised to renegotiate
Britain’s relations with the European
Union ahead of a membership
referendum by the end of 2017 if re-
elected, but UKIP would demand that
vote is held this year, Farage said.
“I would look to do a deal where we
would back key votes for them, such as
the budget, but in return for very specific
criteria on an EU referendum,” Farage said
in extracts from his new book, published
in the Telegraph newspaper overnight.
“The terms of my deal with the Tories
(Conser vatives) would be very precise
and simple. I want a full and fair
referendum to be held in 2015. ”
Conser vative finance minister George
Osborne described the idea of a deal
with UKIP as “total nonsense” and said
his party was fighting for a majority.
“ Even engaging with Nigel Farage on
this is giving him credibility where he
has no credibility,” he told the BBC.
UKIP, which won last year’s European
elections in Britain, has two seats in
the 650-seat lower house of Britain’s
parliament. It is likely to win only a
handful more in May but could threaten
Cameron’s re-election chances by
splitting the right-of-centre vote.
The Conser vatives have used campaign
posters to paint an alarmist picture
of their Labour rivals in hock to the
surging Scottish National Party (SNP)
Labour finance spokesman Ed Balls
said overnight his party had “no plans,
no need and no desire” for a deal with
the SNP. — Reuters
UKIP offers Tories deal
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When: Sunday 22nd March 2015
Where: Grey Ford, 67 Guinness Street
Time: 10am - 3pm
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