Posts Tagged ‘Lampedusa’

Mediterranean Migrant Mess: Italy, Malta keep migrant vessel in limbo

August 8, 2017

AFP

© AFP | While a Spanish vessel with Libyan migrants aboard was denied entry to Italy or Malta, the C-Star chartered by far-right activists opposed to migrants was moored off Tunisia as fishermen and a powerful union prevented them from loading supplies

ROME (AFP) – A Spanish vessel with three Libyan migrants aboard was kept in international waters on Tuesday after Italy and Malta refused to let it to dock.

The three aboard the ship Golfo Azzurro, chartered by Spain’s Proactiva Open Arms NGO and rescued Sunday, were in limbo, illustrating policy confusion a week after Rome introduced a controversial code of conduct for charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.

A Proactiva spokesman said the vessel was some 100 nautical miles (180 kilometres) off the Libyan coast as the NGO attempted a rescue operation normally coordinated with the Italian coast guard.

When the Golfo Azzurro approached the Italian island of Lampedusa, the closest to the Libyan coast, Italian authorities denied it passage.

Proactiva’s mission head Gerard Canals told AFP that Malta had said Italy was responsible for the rescue and should take the migrants.

“The rescue on Sunday happened under the coordination of the Italian MRCC (coastguards headquarters) in Rome but in the Maltese SAR (search and rescue zone).

“We asked to disembark in Lampedusa because it was closer but the Italian authorities told us to see with Malta.

“We cannot take them back to Libya because it’s against maritime law” with Libya not considered as a safe port “so we have to take them to a European port.”

Proactiva is one of four NGOs which have signed up to the code — the group formally did so Tuesday at the Italian interior ministry — whereas five counterparts operating search-and-rescue activities off Libya have rejected the new rules.

Having been denied entry to Italy and Malta to change crew and load supplies, the Golfo Azzurro was stuck between Malta and Sicily midday Tuesday.

Italian authorities last Saturday did allow 127 migrants to disembark on Lampedusa after their rescue by Prudence, a vessel chartered by Doctors without Borders (MSF), which has not signed up to the new code.

Also Tuesday, C-Star, a vessel chartered by a group of European far-right activists opposed to migrants, was still moored off the Tunisian coast as fishermen and a powerful union prevented them from loading supplies.

Two weeks ago, Turkish Cypriot authorities released the C-Star’s captain and crew after detaining them over accusations of using false documentation.

The activists’ “Defend Europe” scheme was launched by anti-immigration campaigners from France, Italy and Germany who raised 170,000 euros ($200,000) via crowd-funding to hire the vessel.

In a separate development, UN’s new envoy to Libya on Tuesday endorsed an Italy drive to strengthen the Libyan coastguard to ensure boatloads of migrants are intercepted before reaching international waters.

Human rights campaigners fear the approach could place thousands of people with a right to asylum at serious risk.

But Ghassam Salame, a former Lebanese culture minister appointed in June to head UN operations in Libya, described the cooperation between Tripoli and Rome as a “very constructive” way of dealing with an acute problem.

“It would be absolutely unrealistic to ignore the seriousness of the challenge of irregular migration,” Salame said after meeting Italian Foreign Minister Angelo Alfano in Rome.

“There are hundreds of millions of them across the world. This is very serious problem.”

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Italy impounds German NGO migrant rescue boat

August 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Some 600,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014, putting the country’s reception facilities under strain and the centre-left government under pressure over the crisis

ROME (AFP) – Italian authorities on Wednesday impounded a German NGO’s migrant rescue boat on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration, police said.The Iuventa, operated by the Jugend Rettet organisation, was “preventatively” impounded on the Italian island of Lampedusa on the orders of a prosecutor based in Trapani, Sicily, the state police force said in a statement.

“Enquiries begun in October 2016, and conducted with the use of sophisticated techniques and investigative technology, have produced circumstantial evidence of the motorboat Iuventa being used for activities facilitating illegal immigration,” the statement said.

More details were to be provided at a 1530 GMT press conference.

The impounding of the Iuventa came as Italy began enforcing a controversial code of conduct for charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.

Jugend Rette was among six of nine NGO’s operating search-and-rescue activities in waters off Libya to reject the new rules. Italian authorities say they are necessary to ensure the boats are not effectively encouraging migrants to embark on the perilous crossing.

The NGOs have particularly objected to a requirement to allow an Italian police official to travel on each boat and a ban on moving rescued migrants from one aid vessel to another while still at sea, which they say could result in avoidable deaths.

Some 600,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014, putting the country’s reception facilities under strain and the centre-left government under pressure over the crisis.

Just over a third of those rescued this year have been saved by NGO boats, up from around a quarter last year.

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At least 97 migrants missing as boat sinks off Libya

April 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP | African migrants rescued after their boat sank off Libya on April 13, 2017, with at least 97 people reported missing

TRIPOLI (AFP) – 

At least 97 migrants were missing after their boat sank on Thursday off the Libyan coast, a navy spokesman said.

Survivors said the missing include 15 women and five children, General Ayoub Qassem told AFP.

He said the Libyan coastguard had rescued a further 23 migrants of various African nationalities just under 10 kilometres (6 miles) off the coast of Tripoli.

The boat’s hull was completely destroyed and the survivors, all men, were found clinging to a flotation device, he said.

Those who had disappeared were “probably dead”, but bad weather had so far prevented the recovery of their bodies, Qassem added.

An AFP photographer said survivors had been given food and medical care at Tripoli port before being transferred to a migrant centre east of the capital.

Six years since the revolution that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a key departure point for migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Hailing mainly from sub-Saharan countries, most of the migrants board boats operated by people traffickers in western Libya, and make for the Italian island of Lampedusa 300 kilometres (190 miles) away.

Since the beginning of this year, at least 590 migrants have died or gone missing along the Libyan coast, the International Organization for Migration said in late March.

In the absence of an army or regular police force in Libya, several militias act as coastguards but are often themselves accused of complicity or even involvement in the lucrative people-smuggling business.

More than 24,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Libya during the first three months of the year, up from 18,000 during the same period last year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

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 (February 2017)

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, outdoor and water

Migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea, February 2017

© AFP/File / by Nina LARSON | Thousands of migrants have died while trying to reach Europe

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Mediterranean Migrant Crossings Down 80 Percent

Mass refugee flow into Europe slows, nations left to grapple with domestic aftermath

by Edmund Kozak | Updated 13 Apr 2017 at 7:07 AM

LifeZette

The number of migrants traveling to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea is down significantly compared to this time last year.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Tuesday that 31,993 migrants entered Europe via the Mediterranean from the start of the year through April 9.

“After a considerable period of time most European nations have realized that encouraging millions of migrants to enter Europe via perilous human-trafficking routes was the wrong approach for all concerned.”

In 2016, 172,774 migrants traveled to Europe via the Mediterranean during the same time period, meaning over 80 percent fewer migrants crossed the sea compared to this time last year.

In addition to far fewer migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year, the IOM report also suggests that the ethnic makeup of the migrants themselves, and the places at which they mostly enter Europe, has also significantly changed.

Between January 1 and March 22, 2016, a vast majority of migrants crossing the Mediterranean — 148,731 out of 163,273 — arrived in Greece, according to the report. Only 14,492, fewer than nine percent, arrived in Italy.

But between January 1 and March 22, 2017, 20,674 out of 25,170 migrants, 82 percent, crossing the Mediterranean arrived in Italy. Only 3,946, just over 15 percent, arrived in Greece.

The shift in country of arrival for the majority of migrants reflects a significant shift in point of origin of the migrants. Fewer Middle Easterners are entering Europe via the Mediterranean Sea — the majority of those crossing are now Africans, a fact the report itself indicates.

“IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo reported [April 10] that over 2,100 migrants rescued last week have been brought to Italy since IOM’s last report. Among them were over 500 Bangladeshis and around 50 Syrians – the rest, mostly sub-Saharan Africans,” the report states.

Italy has always received a majority of its migrants from Africa, so the drop in migrants entering Greece reflects a significant drop in the number of Middle Eastern migrants.

There are a number of potential reasons for this change, most likely a significant decrease in new refugees fleeing Syria. Those who continue to leave the region may also be opting for the longer, but significantly less perilous, land route.

Some observers believe the decrease could be the result of shifting European policies to manage the massive influx of migrants.

“After a considerable period of time most European nations have realized that encouraging millions of migrants to enter Europe via perilous human-trafficking routes was the wrong approach for all concerned,” said Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, the UK’s oldest conservative think tank.

“Collective efforts have seen the creation of refugee camps in afflicted regions and anti-piracy operations to prevent unregistered boats from crossing between Africa and Mediterranean nations,” Harris-Quinney said.

Rising anti-migrant sentiment within Europe may also be a factor. “Since Merkel has reversed her open-door migrant policy and other nations like Britain have restricted their migrant intake, there is no longer such a strong pull factor from European nations,” Harris-Quinney told LifeZette.

http://www.lifezette.com/polizette/mediterranean-migrant-crossings-down-80-percent/

How did the Berlin Christmas market terror attacker slip in and out of three countries with no documentation before being caught by chance in Italy?

December 24, 2016

The Daily Mail

  • Anis Amri apparently able to travel unhindered for around 1,000 miles in Europe
  • Carrying no travel documents, he slipped from Germany to France and Italy
  • All three countries are in the European Union’s ‘borderless’ Schengen zone
  • The ISIS fanatic killed 12 people when he drove a lorry into a Christmas market 

The Berlin truck terrorist made a mockery of Europe’s open borders before he was shot dead by police after four days on the run.

Anis Amri was apparently able to travel unhindered for around 1,000 miles through at least three countries.

Carrying no travel documents, the man who ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market killing 12 people, was able to slip from Germany into France and then into Italy.

A Milan police chief said the killer ‘was a ghost’. When he was approached by two officers, they had no idea he was the most wanted man in Europe.

The three countries are in the EU’s ‘borderless’ Schengen zone.

It was only when Amri was confronted by a rookie Italian policeman during a routine ID check in a northern suburb of Milan that he was finally caught.

He was gunned down as he tried to flee.

Shortly before his death was announced yesterday morning, blundering German police stated they thought the 24-year-old Islamic State fanatic was still in their country.

Items left on the road included a pistol and a backpack. Amri's body was covered up as forensics scoured the scene

Items left on the road included a pistol and a backpack. Amri’s body was covered up as forensics scoured the scene

He is understood to have pulled a gun on a patrol after being stopped for a routine ID check and shot an officer in the shoulder leaving him seriously injured

The Italian school Amri torched for which he was jailed for three years

The Italian school Amri torched for which he was jailed for three years

In other terror-related developments yesterday:

– A chilling Islamic State propaganda video emerged online which featured Amri pledging allegiance to the terror organisation and vowing to slaughter ‘infidels like pigs’;

– The Italian officers who tackled Amri – one of whom was shot and wounded in the exchange – were hailed as heroes;

– It was claimed that Amri might have tried to make his way to Britain earlier this year.

– More details of the security blunders surrounding the case emerged, with CCTV footage apparently showing Amri visiting a mosque in Berlin within hours of the attack.

Pictures emerged this morning of the terrorist lying dead in the street having been shot by Italian police

Pictures emerged this morning of the terrorist lying dead in the street having been shot by Italian police

Amri (pictured) shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and 'police b******s' as he shot at police officers in Milan

Amri (pictured) shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and 'police b******s' as he shot at police officers in Milan

Chief suspect: Amri (pictured) shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘police b******s’ as he shot at police officers in  suburb north of Milan

The dramatic climax to Europe’s most urgent manhunt unfolded at 3am yesterday, shortly after Amri got off a train in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni district and was seen acting suspiciously.

As he was challenged, the fugitive pulled a gun from his backpack, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ and opened fire on the two officers – hitting one, Christian Movio, 35, in the shoulder.

At the time the officers stopped Amri, they had no idea he was the most wanted man in Europe.

His colleague, Luca Scatà, 29, a trainee police officer who had been in the job only a few months, gave chase before shooting Amri dead in the street.

The truck killer is reported to have told them: ‘I don’t have documents, I am Calabrian.’

But after being challenged, he pulled out a gun and shot at the two officers.

Milan police chief Antonio de Iesu said: ‘They had no perception that it could be him, otherwise they’d have been more careful.’

HUNDREDS OF POLICE ASSIGNED TO FIND TERROR ACCOMPLICES

Police are investigating whether Amri was part of a terror network

Police are investigating whether Amri was part of a terror network

Hundreds of investigators in Germany are hunting for possible accomplices of the Berlin truck killer.

Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said it is possible that Amri was part of a network.

He said: ‘It is very important for us to determine whether there was a network of accomplices… in the preparation or the execution of the attack, or the flight of the suspect.’

German authorities face tough questions over how Amri was able to carry out the attack, despite being known to anti-terrorism agencies in Germany and Italy.

He is believed to have been radicalised in Italy – where he arrived from his native Tunisia in 2011 – when he spent four years in jail for starting a fire at a refugee centre.

It is thought that Amri may have been in Milan to meet a contact.

Truck driver Giuseppe Russo told The Times that there was no other reason why the killer would have been in the Milan suburb of Sesto San Giovanni at 3am, when he was approached by police.

Russo said: ‘He was waiting to meet a local contact, someone from around here who was going to hide him.’

And he added: ‘It’s the end of Milan tube line. Where else was he going?’

While the bravery of the Italian officers was praised across the world, critics of the Schengen zone said the bungled hunt for Amri had exposed lax security across the continent.

Former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism chief Richard Walton told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Schengen poses a huge risk of terrorism. Porous borders across mainland Europe are continuing to be exploided by Isil.

‘They have a clear strategy and have set out to carry out attacks across mainland Europe. Europe’s weakness is our weakness.’

HERO POLICE OFFICER WHO SHOT KILLER ‘FORCED INTO HIDING’

Luca Scatà has reportedly gone into hiding

Luca Scatà has reportedly gone into hiding

 The hero policeman who shot dead Europe’s most wanted man is in danger of being targeted by fanatical jihadis – as it emerged he did not initially know who he was stopping.

Reports in Italy state that Luca Scatà, 29, has gone into hiding for his own safety.

Last night his Facebook account and that of his wounded partner, Christian Movio, 36, were removed from the internet on the orders of Milan’s police commissioner, Antonio De Jesu.

The commissioner said that police authorities had ‘a duty to protect our agents’.

Officers across Italy have been warned of the possibility of retaliatory attacks.

Scatà shot Anis Amri dead in the early hours of yesterday morning in Milan after stopping the terrorist in a routine approach.

Milan police chief Antonio de Iesu said: ‘He (Amri) was a man from northern Africa, like there are many in the Milan area, and ours was a routine check that was carried out by two young and good police officers.’

And he warned that ‘sooner or later’ terrorists planning atrocities would get across the Channel.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted, before confirmation Amri had been killed by police: ‘If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.’

Tory MEP David Campbell-Bannerman said: ‘Schengen is a terrorist’s dream as we saw with the Paris, Brussels and now Berlin attacks.

‘All terrorists need is an ID card and they can silently move around Europe.

‘The alleged Berlin attacker moved across borders from Germany to France and then Italy without once being challenged.

‘The EU shares a big responsibility for this folly.’

‘I WANT THE TRUTH ABOUT MY SON’ SAYS MOTHER OF KILLER

Nour El Houda Hassani said a 'great secret' died with her son

Nour El Houda Hassani said a ‘great secret’ died with her son

The mother of Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri, who was yesterday shot to death by police in Milan, fears the world will never know why he carried out the atrocity.

Nour El Houda Hassani, speaking at Amri’s hometown of Oueslatia in Tunisia said that a ‘great secret’ had died with him.

Family members have questioned the need to kill the 24-year-old.

His mother said: ‘Within him is a great secret. They killed him, and buried the secret with him.’

And she called on authorities to unearth who had put her son up to the attack, stating: ‘I want the truth about my son. Who was behind him?’

Amri’s brother Abdel Kader wept as he questioned the need to kill him.

He said: ‘My brother is dead. Bring us his remains, even one of his fingers, and I will put it in my pocket. They killed him when he was still only a suspect. Why?’

A shoot out took place at about 3am local time and Amri was reportedly heard shouting 'Allahu Akbar' as he tried to flee and police opened fire

A shoot out took place at about 3am local time and Amri was reportedly heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he tried to flee and police opened fire

Forensics officers scour the scene after Milan shooting

Italian police released this picture showing how a gunshot fired by Amri had hit the bullet-proof vest worn by officer Christian Movio

Italian police released this picture showing how a gunshot fired by Amri had hit the bullet-proof vest worn by officer Christian Movio

Amri was captured on CCTV outside the place of worship in the city's Moabit neighbourhood

The sighting was just eight hours after the Christmas market massacre

Amri was captured on CCTV outside the place of worship in the city’s Moabit neighbourhood just eight hours after the Christmas market massacre

French far-Right leader Marine Le Pen said the hunt for Amri was ‘symptomatic of the total security disaster represented by the Schengen area’.

By the time the European arrest warrant for him was issued on Wednesday, Amri, who had used at least six different aliases with three nationalities, had vanished.

Despite being Europe’s most wanted man, he was able to cross the German border into France and make his way to Chambéry, before crossing another national border by travelling on a high speed train to Turin in northern Italy.

From there, he apparently caught a regional train to Milan, arriving at 1am yesterday, before then taking another service to Sesto San Giovanni station in the suburbs.

Amri had strong links to Italy because it was the first European country he claimed asylum in in 2011 after fleeing his native Tunisia.

He spent three years in jail there before being released. Police believe he may have been trying to reach southern Italy, with a view to reaching northern Africa.

Under the Schengen rules he had no need to show travel documents at national frontiers, which have been had checkpoints removed.

Milan police said Amri was carrying a few personal belongings and several hundred euros – but no mobile phone and no travel documents.

‘He was a ghost, he didn’t leave a trace,’ said Milan police chief Antonio De Lesu.

The mastermind of the Paris terror massacres had bragged of travelling across Europe at will.

Hero policeman Christian Moveo (pictured in bed) was recovering in hospital this afternoon having been shot by the most wanted man on the planet

Hero policeman Christian Moveo (pictured in bed) was recovering in hospital this afternoon having been shot by the most wanted man on the planet

He is understood to have pulled a gun on a patrol after being stopped for a routine ID check and shot an officer in the shoulder leaving him seriously injured

WHAT WAS BERLIN MASSACRE TERRORIST DOING IN ITALY?

Investigators are trying to determine why terrorist Anis Amri was in Milan when he was shot dead yesterday morning.

The killer, who did not have any documents on him and was not carrying a phone, was approached by officers in the Sesto San Giovanni suburb at 3am.

He was gunned down after opening fire on two police, who had no idea that he was Europe’s most wanted man.

The suburb is a hub for transport, and is the last stop on the city’s metro line.

Killer: Anis Amri was gunned down in a Milan suburb early yesterday morning, after being approached by two police officers

Killer: Anis Amri was gunned down in a Milan suburb early yesterday morning, after being approached by two police officers

It has a busy bus terminal where buses leave for Spain, Morocco, Albania and southern Italy, but police patrols are particularly thorough.

A young Moroccan worker called Aziz said: ‘I get checked by police every day getting off the bus.

‘At night this place is deserted, which would explain why somebody alone here would be immediately spotted by a police patrol.’

Italian daily La Stampa reports police believe Amri arrived in Italy by train from Chambery, southeastern France.

Investigators at the scene of yesterday's shooting, where the terrorist opened fire on two police officers

Investigators at the scene of yesterday’s shooting, where the terrorist opened fire on two police officers

They think he stopped for three hours in Turin, where police are now checking video surveillance footage for clues as to any contact with accomplices.

But none of the images they have seen so far show him using a phone, and according to Milan police chief Antonio De Iesu, he did not have one with him when he was shot dead.

He is believed to have arrived in Milan at 1am yesterday, before going to Sesto San Giovanni.

It is not known whether he was there to meet members of a network, or trying to get out of Europe.

He could have been planning some kind of revenge against Italy, where he was jailed for four years in 2011 for arson.

Police chief De Iesu told journalists that Amri had ‘no links with the Sesto mosque’, but locals wonder if he had contacts nearby.

‘Some people are worried,’ said Tommaso Trivolo, who lives in a high-rise building opposite the train station from where he saw the ambulances arriving with screaming sirens just after the shooting.

The Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri (pictured) has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan, Italian police have said

The Berlin attack suspect has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan, Italian police have said

The Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri (pictured) has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan, Italian police have said

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Shoot-out: Italian authorities said this morning that they had 'without a shadow of a doubt' killed the chief suspect in the Berlin massacre

Shoot-out: Italian authorities said this morning that they had ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ killed the chief suspect in the Berlin massacre

Crime scene: Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan in the early hours of this morning

Crime scene: Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan in the early hours of this morning

Despite being on wanted lists, Abdelhamid Abaaoud shuttled between Syria and Europe, taking full advantage of the migrant crisis on EU borders.

A British man, who helped give out aid in the Jungle Camp near Calais, claimed he saw Amri there last January.

Mick Watson, 48, said that during a trip to the camp – where thousands of migrants were massed hoping to make their way across the Channel – he had an altercation with a Middle Eastern looking man, who he believes was Amri.

The Italian press has printed an image apparently showing a 19-year-old Amri arriving in Italy on a boat in 2011.

Video shows Berlin attacker Anis Amri pledging allegiance to ISIS

THE BERLIN TERROR ATTACK: A TIMELINE OF EVENTS

Lorry driver Lukasz Urban was found dead in the passenger seat after the massacre

Lorry driver Lukasz Urban was found dead in the passenger seat after the massacre

Monday

Between 3pm and 4pm: Polish lorry driver Lukasz Urban, 37, has his lorry hijacked. He was on his way back to his truck from a kebab shop when he was ambushed.

8pm – The truck is driven into a large crowd of people at outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the centre of Berlin. Urban’s body was found in the passenger seat after the attackers fled. He had been shot and stabbed, but authorities believe he was alive when the truck ploughed into the crowd. Twelve people were killed and 50 more were injured.

9pm – A Pakistani man is arrested a mile-and-a-half from the scene, after witnesses claimed to have seen him leaving the truck. It was revealed that he had entered Germany under a false name in February.

The suspect was arrested a mile-and-a-half from the scene of the atrocity, after witnesses claimed to have seen him getting out of the truck

The suspect was arrested a mile-and-a-half from the scene of the atrocity, after witnesses claimed to have seen him getting out of the truck

10.16pm – Controversial far-right activist Lutz Bachmann, who heads the anti-immigrant PEGIDA group, tweeted on Monday night that he had ‘internal police information’ that the perpetrator was a Tunisian.

Tuesday

4am – Police raid a refugee camp at Tempelhof, believed to be where the Pakistani suspect resided.

8am – The suspect is named as Naved B, a 23-year-old man from Pakistan, but police later reveal that the man has denied any involvement in the attack and urged people to be vigilant.

Angela Merkel confirmed it was being treated as a terrorist attack

Angela Merkel confirmed it was being treated as a terrorist attack

10am – German chancellor Angela Merkel confirms the attack is being treated as an act of terrorism.

12pm – Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, confirms that 18 of the 50 people hurt in the attack were ‘very seriously injured’.

1.20pm – Police admit that they have arrested the wrong man. A senior officer says: ‘The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.’

6.50pm – Authorities confirm that the wrongly-arrested man has been released.

ISIS claims responsibility for the attack, releasing a statement which describes the lorry driver as a ‘soldier’ and praised him for ‘targeting nationals of the coalition countries’.

Wednesday

It is revealed that police are looking for a Tunisian man, named as Anis Amri, after his ID was found under the driver’s seat. It emerged that the failed asylum seeker, who had a 100,000 euro reward on his head, had been under the surveillance of German intelligence for several months, and had been arrested three times this year, but deportation papers were never served. Reports in Germany suggest intelligence services had lost track of him weeks ago.

A cousin of Naveed Baluch, the wrongly accused suspect, was ‘mentally unfit’ and had not been heard from since he was released. His cousin Waheed told MailOnline he was ‘very worried’ about the missing man.

Thursday

Dalia Elyakim, from Herzliya, Israel, was named as the first victim of the massacre. Her husband Rami, pictured with her, is fighting for his life

Dalia Elyakim, from Herzliya, Israel, was named as the first victim of the massacre. Her husband Rami, pictured with her, is fighting for his life

An Israeli woman became the first named victim of the Berlin lorry massacre. Dalia Elyakim, from Herzliya, Israel, was with her husband Rami when the atrocity happened. Rami was in hospital fighting for his life.

The market where the massacre happened reopened, with heightened security. Stalls on Breitscheidplatz square opened again three days after the 25-tonne lorry was used as a weapon to kill and maim shoppers.

The market, in the centre of Berlin, reopened on Thursday morning with heightened security, three days after the massacre

The market, in the centre of Berlin, reopened on Thursday morning with heightened security, three days after the massacre

Two of Amri’s brothers, Walid and Abdelkader, said they believed he had been radicalised in prison in Italy, and Abdelkader told reporers: ‘I ask him to turn himself in to the police. If it is proved that he is involved, we dissociate ourselves from it.’

Two men were arrested after a police raid at a mosque in Berlin’s Moabit neighbourhood, where Amri was allegedly captured on CCTV just eight hours after the mass killing.

Friday

3am – Amri was shot dead in Milan. He immediately produced a gun when approached by police. In a press conference at 9.45am, the Italian Interior minister, Marco Minniti, said Amri immediately produced a gun when approached by police and shot an officer during a routine patrol. The Tunisian was then killed, and there is ‘absolutely no doubt’ that the man was Amri, Minniti said.

It has emerged that German police are linking Amri to the murder of a 16-year-old German boy in Hamburg two months ago. ISIS claimed responsibility for the October 16 knife attack which killed the teenager, identified by authorities as Victor E. He has also previously been jailed in his native Tunisia for hijacking a truck.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4063312/Farce-open-borders-Berlin-killer-slipped-THREE-Schengen-countries-caught-chance-Italy.html#ixzz4TlbEbjN9
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Berlin attack: Europe’s open borders are putting Britain’s security at risk, former police chief warns

December 24, 2016

By 

Europe’s open borders are putting Britain’s security at risk, former police chiefs have warned after it emerged that the terrorist behind the Berlin Christmas market attack travelled unhindered through three countries before being killed in Italy.

Anis Amri, the most wanted man in Europe, travelled from Berlin to the French Alps and then onto Italy without being stopped at any point on his 1,000 mile journey.

It was only after a chance encounter outside a suburban station at 3am that he was shot dead by a rookie Italian police officer who recognised him.

Counter-terrorism experts and Tory MPs on Friday warned that the Schengen Area, which enables passport-free travel across the European Union, is being “routinely exploited by Isil”.

Richard Walton, a former head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, told The Telegraph: “Schengen poses a huge risk of terrorism, porous borders across mainland Europe are continuing to be exploited by Isil.

“They have a clear strategy and have set out to carry out attacks across mainland Europe. Europe’s weakness is our weakness, it is a concern for us because if you’re neighbours are insecure by definition.

“We need European countries to get their act together. Sooner or later they are going to get across the Channel.”

Watch | Angela Merkel: the general threat of terrorism continues

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/23/berlin-attack-europes-open-borders-putting-britains-security/

01:05

In other developments:

  •  A two-minute video of Amri which he pledged allegiance to Isil and vowed to “slaughter infidels like pigs” emerged. He suggested that he attack was vengeance for airstrikes against Muslims.
  • There were mounting concerns that Amri was returning to his jihadi handlers in Italy, where he is believed to have been radicalised. He entered the country illegally in 2011.
  • Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, announced an urgent review into the police and intelligence services handling of the case and said her Government will not rest Amri’s accomplices are found.
  • Police in Australia revealed that they foiled a major terrorist attack planned for Melbourne on Christmas Day. Three men have been detained.

Amri was able to escape because a European arrest warrant was not issued until 30 hours after the Berlin terror attack, in which 12 people were killed after a truck was driven through a Berlin market.

Police believe that in the wake of the terror attack Amri travelled from Germany to Chambery in the French Alps before taking a high-speed train to Milan.

It is not known how he reached Chambery but the quickest route would be from Berlin to Frankfurt and then on to Lyon. One report said he may have gone to Paris before heading towards the Alps and Italy.

After arriving at Milan’s central station at 1am, Amri travelled to the suburban Sesto San Giovanni station where he arrived at 3am local time.

Luca Scata, a trainee officer, was on patrol with his colleague Christian Movio when they asked Amri for his ID because he looked like the terror suspect.

Amri, 24, pulled a gun from his bag, opened fire and screamed “Allahu Akbar”. Mr Movio was hit in the shoulder by Amri who then attempted to flee the scene but was shot dead by Mr Scata.

Italian police cordon off an area around the body of Anis Amri after a shootout between police and a man in Milan's Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood
Italian police cordon off an area around the body of Anis Amri after a shootout between police and a man in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood CREDIT: DANIELE BENNATI/AP PHOTO

Iain Duncan Smith, a Tory MP and former Work and Pensions secretary, said that the case highlighted the need for Britain to leave the European Union “as soon as possible”.

He said: “The sooner we get out the stronger our ability to look after ourselves and our borders will be.

“Where the European Union has been heading is towards this creation of a super state, within which there would be no borders, no controls, no checks. We are now beginning to see what a mistake that has been.”

Last year it emerged that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the Paris terror atacks in November 2015, had travelled repeatedly between France and his family home in Belgium. He had previously fought for Isil in Syria.

Marie Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right National Front and presidential hopeful, said: “This escapade in at least two or three countries is symptomatic of the total security catastrophe that is the Schengen agreement.”

Nigel Farage, Ukip’s former leader wrote on Twitter: “If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.”

Amri, 24, claimed asylum in Italy in 2011 after fleeing Tunisia following a violent robbery. He pretended to be a child migrant, even though he was 19, but then rioted inside his detention centre. He was jailed for four years but released after serving just two.

Italy was unable to deport him because Tunisia did not want to take him back and Amri fled Italy via the Alps for Germany. It has since emerged that Amri was under surveillance by German police and two months ago was overheard offering to carry out a “suicide attack”.

No order was given to arrest him and he was written off as an “errand boy”. Support for Germany’s anti-migration AfD party soared to a year high of more than 15 percent in the wake of the Berlin truck attack, a poll to be released Saturday indicated.

With a general election expected next September, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany recorded a 2.5-point boost to 15.5 percent compared to last week, according to the survey for the Bild newspaper by the Insa institute.

Merkel orders massive security review after Berlin Christmas market terror attacker killed in Italy

December 23, 2016

Image may contain: 1 person

The German chancellor has called for a swift and far-reaching probe into the country’s security apparatus after a terrorist was able to evade authorities. Anis Amri was killed in Italy in a shootout with police.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a comprehensive review of the country’s security infrastructure on Friday. Her government and the Berlin police have faced hefty criticism after a terrorist killed 12 people and injured 49 at a Christmas market in the capital and managed to escape on foot.

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Twenty-four-year-old Anis Amri, a Tunisian national, was killed four days after the Monday attack in a shootout with Italian police in Milan. The German authorities have come under increasingly intense ire from the public after it emerged that Amri was well-known to security services for his involvement with radical jihadis and was even under surveillance for six months.

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“The Amri case raises questions – questions that are not only tied to this crime but also to the time before, since he came to Germany in July 2015,” said Merkel, referring to his prior conviction for arson in Italy, for which he served a four-year prison sentence.

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Amri was highly active on Islamist extremist websites. “Islamic State” terrorists claimed responsibility for the Berlin attack

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“We will now intensively examine to what extent official procedures need to be changed,” the chancellor added, saying she had already been on the phone with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to discuss expediting the process of deporting rejected asylum seekers. Amri’s application for asylum had been turned down in June, but because it took so long to confirm his Tunisian citizenship, he was able to remain in Germany.

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Amri killed by Italian police

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After a massive manhunt and a number of raids across Germany, Amri was killed in the Sesto San Giovanni suburb of Milan in the early hours of Friday after drawing a gun on police officers who asked for his identification.

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Italian forensic workers at the scene of the shootout. Merkel thanked Italy for its close cooperation

More came to light about Amri’s victims later on Friday when the Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office released details about their nationalities. Of the 12 dead, six were German, while the Czech Republic, Italy and Israel have also confirmed that at least one of their citizens had been killed. The Polish truck driver of the vehicle Amri hijacked and rammed into the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market was also found dead at the scene after apparently trying to fight off the terrorist.

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Police initially apprehended the wrong suspect, a 23-year-old Pakistani.

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Amri was last seen in video footage from the front of mosque in Berlin’s Moabit district on Tuesday, according to German broadcaster rbb. He arrived in Italy by train via France, but his exact movements in this time are not yet clear.

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es/kms

(AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/merkel-orders-massive-security-review-after-berlin-attack/a-36898009

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From Berlin to Milan via France — How Berlin Christmas Market Attacker Evaded the Net Through Europe’s No-Border Schengen Zone

December 23, 2016

By Latika Bourke
Sydney Morning Herald
December 24, 2016

When hero cop Luca Scata shot Europe’s most wanted man, Anis Amri, it brought to an end the Berlin attacker’s four-day flight which saw him travel three different cities in three different countries.

Alberto Nobili, coordinator of the Anti-Terrorism department at the District Attorney’s Office in Milan says Amri ended up in the Italian city after travelling from Berlin to the French city of Chambery and via a stop in Turin.

The drive between Chambéry and Berlin takes about 11 hours. The train ride between Chambéry to Turin takes just under three hours. Whatever method the 24-year old took, he would not have needed to show a passport because he was travelling within the Shengen area which allows passport-free travel.

The Islamic State claimed  responsibility for the Berlin truck attack.

The German government arrested and then released a suspect, admitting their uncertainty about his involvement

The German government arrested and then released a suspect, admitting their uncertainty about his involvement

The Italians were unaware that the Tunisian was amongst them.

He had recorded a video message for Islamic State, it emerged on Friday.

Islamic State adherents are encouraged to send out such video pledges before launching attacks, The New York Times reported. Similar claims have been made by men who carried out assaults in Paris and Orlando, Florida. The videos have been recorded on laptops and cellphones and distributed through mediums like Facebook Live

“We had no intelligence that he could be in Milan,” Milan’s police chief Antonio De Iesu said.

It was only that Amri was loitering near the train station near the Piazza Primo Maggio, in Sesto san Giovanni, Milan at 3am that police patrolling the area asked for his identification, suspecting he might be a burglar.

Image may contain: 2 people, eyeglasses and closeup

Anis Amri. Photographs by AFP and Getty Images

When Amri pulled out a gun, it was clear he was a far more dangerous sort of criminal, although they had no idea he was Europe’s most wanted fugutive who had managed to traverse undetected three countries across the continent.

He shot at one of the policemen, lightly wounding him in the shoulder.

Amri then hid behind a nearby car but the other police officer, a trainee, managed to shoot him once or twice, killing him on the spot, police said. Amri was identified by his fingerprints. He did not have a phone on him and was carrying a small pocket knife and a few hundred euros.

Bullet hole in the uniform of the policeman wounded in the shoot-out with Anis Amri. Now having surgery but not in critical condition

On the night of the attack German police had arrested a 23-year old Pakistani migrant who denied involvement. He was later released due to a lack of evidence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has flagged strengthening Germany’s counter-terrorism laws and has told Tunisia’s President that the repatriation of failed asylum seekers, like Amri, must be made easier. Amri should have been deported to his home country but could not be sent home because he did not have identity documents. He would use six different aliases.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, delivers a statement on Thursday to media.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Michael Kappeler

The German Prosecutor, Peter Frank, said it was yet to be established how the culprit managed to escape their net.

“We want to investigate how he managed to get to Milan and whether he had any assistance or accomplices. We will look at what contacts he made in the preparation of the attack – people who may have supported him with money and aided him in the escape,” he said.

“We need to establish whether there was a network of accomplices. That is the focal point of our investigation.”

Eurosceptic politicians were quick to blame the Schengen zone.

Beppe Grillo, the founder of Italy’s populist 5-star movement, said Schengen needed to be rethought.

“There are reports that he would have come by train from France,” the leader of the far-right Front National and Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen said.

“This getaway in two or three countries at a minimum is symptomatic of the total security disaster represented by the Schengen area.”

“France, like most of its neighbours, is reduced to learning after the fact that an armed and dangerous jihadist was probably wandering on its soil.”

The former leader of Britain’s UKIP Nigel Farage posted similar sentiments online.

“If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.”

“The free movement of good people also means the free movement of bad people. Expect Schengen to dominate the EU debate next year,” he said.

His prediction is likely to come true. France and Germany both go to the polls next year and migration will feature prominently in both campaigns.

Both countries have been hit by truck attacks and France has been hit with a string of attacks over the past three years.

Amri originally came to Europe in 2011, reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa by boat. He told authorities he was a minor, though documents now indicate he was not, and he was transferred to Catania, Sicily, where he was enrolled in school.

Just months later he was arrested by police after he attempted to set fire to the school, a senior police source said. He was later convicted of vandalism, threats, and theft.

He spent almost four years in Italian prisons before being ordered out of the country after Tunisia refused to accept him back in 2015 because he had no identification papers linking him to the north African country.

He moved to Germany and applied for asylum there, but this was rejected after he was identified by security agencies as a potential threat.

with Reuters

http://www.smh.com.au/world/from-berlin-to-milan-via-france-how-anis-amri-evaded-the-net-through-europes-schengen-zone-20161223-gthjhu.html

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John Kerry: International coalition is pushing back Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq — Threat in Libya grows

February 2, 2016

World | Tue Feb 2, 2016 6:17am EST

US Secretary of State John Kerry, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni (R) and US President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the international anti-Isil coalition, Brett McGurk (L) attend a ministerial meeting regarding the Islamic State group in Rome, Italy February 2, 2016. Reuters/Nichols Kamm/Pool

An international coalition is pushing back Islamic State militants in their Syrian and Iraqi strongholds but the group is threatening Libya and could seize the nation’s oil wealth, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

Officials from 23 countries are in Rome to review the fight against Islamic State militants, who have created a self-proclaimed Caliphate across swathes of Syria and Iraq, and are spreading into other countries, notably Libya.

Islamic State forces have attacked Libya’s oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a power vacuum in the North African country where two rival governments have been battling for supremacy.

“In Libya, we are on the brink of getting a government of national unity,” Kerry told the Rome conference. “That country has resources. The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue.”

Under a U.N.-backed plan for a political transition, Libya’s two warring administrations are expected to form a unity government, but a month after the deal was agreed in Morocco, its implementation has been dogged by in-fighting.

The United States is leading two different coalitions carrying out air strikes in Iraq and Syria that have targeted Islamic State.

Western nations are also considering hitting the militants in Libya, a gateway for tens of thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe. However, they want a green light from the planned unity government before acting.

“We are still not at the victory that we want to achieve, and will achieve, in either Syria or Iraq and we have seen Daesh playing a game of metastasizing out to other countries, particularly Libya,” Kerry said, using a pejorative Arabic term for Islamic State.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends a ministerial meeting regarding the Islamic State group in Rome, Italy February 2, 2016. Reuters, Nichols Kamm, Pool

PROGRESS IN SYRIA AND IRAQ

However, he said the anti-IS group had made marked progress since it last met in June 2015. “At the time of out last ministerial, Ramadi had just fallen and there was a pretty dark and dangerous narrative that was emerging,” he said.

He said that Iraqi forces had since retaken the city and Islamic State had since lost about 40 percent of its territory in Iraq and 20 percent in Syria.

The one-day Rome meeting takes place as talks have begun in Geneva to try to end the five-year-old Syrian civil war, which has killed at least 250,000 people, driven more than 10 million from their homes and drawn in the United States and Russia on opposite sides.

While Washington has long said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead, it has made clear that its first priority is to try to rein in Islamic State group, which is also known as ISIL and ISIS.

Tuesday’s meeting will cover stabilizing areas such as the Iraqi city of Tikrit, which has been wrested from the group, as well as broader efforts to undercut its finances, stem the flow of foreign fighters and counter its messaging, officials said.

(Additional Reporting by Phil Stewart and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Writing byCrispian Balmer and Arshad Mohammed)

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How likely is international military intervention in Libya?

February 2, 2016

AFP

By Mohamad Ali Harissi | Troops loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a retired general and former chief of staff for Moamer Kadhafi, pose for picture as they fight alongside the Libyan army in clashes with Islamist gunmen in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on December 16, 2014. AFP

TRIPOLI (AFP) – After Iraq and Syria, will international military intervention against the Islamic State group now take place in conflict-ridden Libya as well?

Western powers including the United States, Britain and France are openly considering such a move, but appear reluctant to act without a government of national unity in place.

Such a government would bring together rival factions competing for power for more than a year and a half — the Islamist-backed General National Congress in Tripoli and the internationally recognised government in the far east.

Foreign ministers from the coalition bombing IS in Syria and Iraq, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, meet in Rome on Tuesday to discuss their efforts, with a possible expansion into Libya likely to be on the table.

Why would it happen?

“The failure of the political process and the simultaneous escalation of IS activities in Libya made all of this much more likely” in recent weeks, said Mattia Toaldo of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The Islamic State group has become the greatest jihadist threat to the region since seizing Sirte, hometown of deposed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, in June 2015. The city is just 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli.

The jihadist group is estimated to have some 5,000 fighters in Libya, and is trying to attract hundreds more.

“Action in Libya is needed before Libya becomes a sanctuary for ISIL, before they become extremely hard to dislodge,” a US defence official said last month, using one of several names for IS.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Sunday that with the onset of better weather, IS fighters hiding among refugees travelling from Libya to Italy pose a “major risk” to Europe.

Le Drian said IS is now just 350 kilometres (220 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa, arrival point for thousands of migrants and refugees leaving Libya for the European Union.

Martin Kobler, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), has said African countries such as Niger and Chad are also concerned about IS spreading south through the vast desert.

“Libya’s neighbours in Africa and Europe are not likely to simply allow the threat from the Islamic State to grow unchecked,” said Issandr El Amrani of the International Crisis Group.

“But the nature of that military action is far from certain.”

How would it happen?

Foreign countries say there will be no intervention without a political agreement in Libya, and a national unity government requesting help.

In the meantime, options are being considered, ranging from an air campaign in support of Libyan forces as in Iraq, to the deployment of ground troops.

“But the latter seems unlikely,” according to El Amrani.

For Toaldo, intervention will be along the lines of in Syria: “air strikes, some drones, some special operation troops on the ground”.

The United States has sent in experts to make contact with local forces to ensure the support of the many militias controlling territory.

The recognised government based in Al-Bayda, in addition to air strikes, wants the speedy lifting of the arms embargo imposed by the UN in 2011.

Forces loyal to the government, calling themselves the Libyan National Army, say they can supply intelligence on IS positions, a determining factor in avoiding civilian casualties.

The support of the Tripoli administration backed by the Fajr Libya coalition of Islamist militants is less certain, especially if the UN-brokered political process fails.

Where would it take place?

Experts say foreign strikes would first concentrate on Sirte and its environs, the main area under IS control. Derna 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) east of Tripoli would also be a target, with IS fighters now on its outskirts after being expelled from the city in July by local forces.

Military intervention “will focus on ISIS rather than on Libya as a whole,” said Toaldo.

“This makes it easier for European prime ministers who will be able in some cases to avoid parliamentary votes on this.”

Who would take part?

The United States would appear determined to participate, but not necessarily to lead such an operation as it currently does in Iraq and Syria.

US officials believe Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, could lead an international operation.

France and Britain, who like the US joined the NATO intervention against Kadhafi in 2011, also plan to take part.

Would it succeed?

The debate has already begun.

“We do not believe at this time in a military solution to the Libyan crisis — that would further complicate the situation,” African Union Peace and Security Council chief Smail Chergui said on Sunday, insisting on the need for a political solution.

“I don’t think such an intervention, without solid partners on the ground, could make a difference,” Toaldo said.

El Amrani said: “It could have a positive impact in at least limiting the growth of IS in Libya, depleting its resources and making it more difficult to continue its current attempts to seize and/or destroy oil facilities east of Sirte.

“A larger scale intervention, however, could also have more uncertain consequences” politically, he said.

“This is why it would be important to garner support from Libyans on both sides of the mainstream divide.”

by Mohamad Ali Harissi

EU leaders to hold emergency summit Thursday to address migrant crisis

April 20, 2015

 

The Associated Press

European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Luxembourg on Monday, April 20, 2015. An Italian coast guard ship headed toward Sicily Monday to look for survivors of a capsized ship in what could be the Mediterranean’s deadliest migrant tragedy, as EU foreign ministers gathered for an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)

By The Associated Press

5:00 p.m. (1500 GMT; 11:00 a.m. EDT)

European Union leaders will hold an emergency summit on Thursday to address the crisis in the Mediterranean.

EU President Donald Tusk made the announcement on Monday after days of waffling and indecision on how to tackle the rapidly worsening tragedy of hundreds of migrants drowning during their attempts to reach Europe’s shores.

The situation worsened further Monday with rescue crews searching for survivors and bodies from what could be the Mediterranean’s deadliest migrant tragedy ever as hundreds more migrants took to the sea.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the summit. He said: “I think what we need is a comprehensive plan that does involve elements of search and rescue but, crucially, we have got to do more to deal with the problems in the countries from which these people are coming.”

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4:45 p.m. (1445 GMT; 10:45 a.m. EDT)

Italian prosecutor Giovanni Salvi says the smuggler’s boat that sank near Libya this weekend had three levels and migrants were locked in the hull and on the second level.

Salvi told a news conference in Catania, Sicily, that “a few hundred were forced into the hull and they were locked in and prevented from coming out.” He said hundreds more were “closed in” at the second level, while hundreds more were on the upper deck.

One survivor of the weekend sinking, identified as a 32-year-old Bangladeshi, has put the number of people on board the smugglers’ boat at as many as 950, though Salvi said that number should be treated with caution. He said the Coast Guard had estimated 700 people were on board, based on its observations at the scene.

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3:25 p.m. (1325 GMT; 9:25 a.m. EDT)

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says Italian and Maltese ships are responding to two migrant emergencies near the Libyan coast.

Renzi told a joint press conference with Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, on Monday that ships from the two countries were responding to distress calls from an inflatable life-raft near the Libyan coast with 100 to 150 aboard and to another boat with 300 people on board.

Renzi said the rescue operations, coming after the deadly shipwreck this weekend, are evidence that smugglers’ activities are intensifying and that Europe needs to unite to combat the human trafficking in the Mediterranean.

Muscat called the weekend tragedy “a game changer” with the “realization that if Europe doesn’t work together history will judge it very badly.”

___

2:35 p.m. (1235 GMT; 8:35 a.m. EDT)

British Prime Minister David Cameron has paused from campaigning for the general election to lash out at the traffickers behind the tragedy in the Mediterranean.

“It is a very dark day for Europe, he said. “It really is horrific the scenes that we have all witnessed on our television screens, the loss of life.

“We should put the blame squarely with the criminal human traffickers who are the ones managing, promoting and selling this trade, this trade in human life.”

Cameron said he believes in a comprehensive approach that deals with the instability in the countries involved.

” We must use all the resources we have, including Britain’s aid budget, which can play a role in trying to stabilize countries and trying to stop people from trafficking,” he said.

2:25 p.m. (1225 GMT; 8:25 a.m. EDT)

Police in southern Italy say they have broken up a major human smuggling ring responsible for the waves of migrants reaching Italian shores, and have detailed how the traffickers make money through illicit payments from desperate migrants willing to make the deadly crossings.

Palermo prosecutor Maurizio Scalia told reporters that arrest warrants have been issued against 24 people, 14 of them in Italy but at least one of them at large in Libya.

Ermias Ghermay, an Ethiopian, was already named in an arrest warrant in connection with an October 2013 capsizing off Lampedusa that left 366 dead and caused international outrage.

http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/04/20/eu-looks-to-beef-up-border-agency-to-confront-migrant-influx