Death toll rises to 32 in religious violence in India’s capital

By Aftab Ahmed

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – At least 32 people have been killed in the deadliest violence to engulf India’s capital New Delhi for decades as a heavy deployment of security forces brought an uneasy calm on Thursday, a police official said.

The violence began over a disputed new citizenship law on Monday but led to clashes between Muslims and Hindus in which hundreds were injured. Many suffered gunshot wounds, while arson, looting and stone-throwing has also taken place.

“The death count is now at 32,” Delhi police spokesman Anil Mittal said, adding the “entire area is peaceful now.”

Men remove debris in a riot affected area following clashes between people demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

At the heart of the unrest is a citizenship law which makes it easier for non-Muslims from some neighboring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the new law adopted last December is of “great concern” and she was worried by reports of police inaction in the face of assaults against Muslims by other groups.

“I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence,” Bachelet said in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Critics say the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has denied having any prejudice against India’s 180 million Muslims, saying that law is required to help persecuted minorities.

New Delhi has been the epicenter for protests against the new law, with students and large sections of the Muslim community leading the protests.

As the wounded were brought to hospitals on Thursday, the focus shifted on the overnight transfer of Justice S. Muralidhar, a Delhi High Court judge who was hearing a petition into the riots and had criticized government and police inaction on Wednesday.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the transfer was routine and had been recommended by the Supreme Court collegium earlier this month.

Opposition Congress party leader Manish Tiwari said every lawyer and judge in India should strongly protest what he called a crude attempt to intimidate the judiciary.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said inflammatory speeches at the protests over the new citizenship law in the last few months and the tacit support of some opposition leaders was behind the violence.

“The investigation is on,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who romped to re-election last May, also withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy in August with the objective of tightening New Delhi’s grip on the restive region, which is also claimed by full by Pakistan.

For months the government imposed severe restrictions in Kashmir including cutting telephone and internet lines, while keeping hundreds of people, including mainstream political leaders, in custody for fear that they could whip up mass protests. Some restrictions have since been eased.

Bachelet said the Indian government continued to impose excessive restrictions on the use of social media in the region, even though some political leaders have been released, and ordinary life may be returning to normal in some respects.

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Shots fired in Capitol complex, gunman caught

US Washington DC Capitol

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A police officer may have been injured by shrapnel on Monday in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center when a man fired a gun, media reports and congressional sources said.

There was confusion in early accounts about what occurred but police said a suspect was taken into custody with wounds after shots were fired.

MSNBC-TV reported that an officer who fired at an armed suspect may have been injured by shrapnel. Police said the suspect was taken to hospital. The officer did not identify or describe the suspect and he added that there were no additional suspects.

A U.S. government official told Reuters that initial reports were that a suspect walked into the Visitors Center, pointed a gun at one of the police officers on duty and a shootout erupted.

The official said no evidence had materialized of a connection to terrorism.

Separately, CNN reported that a person tried to gain entry into the White House but was caught.

Congress is in recess, with few lawmakers in Washington but the shooting happened just a few hours after a drill for an active shooter took place at the Capitol, creating further confusion.

The Secret Service temporarily cleared tourists from an area surrounding the White House after the incident, but activities quickly went back to normal. Capitol Hill was placed in lockdown immediately after the shooting but was later lifted.

Cathryn Leff, a licensed therapist, tweeted that she was at the visitor’s center when she heard gunshots while going through a security check point.

“That moment when it goes down . Everyone is screaming & running and you can’t see where the #ShotsFired are from,” tweeted Leff(@Cathrynlefflmft).

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell, Roberta Rampton and Susan Heavey; editing by Grant McCool)

Update: Soldier Dead, Gunman Dead In Canadian Rampage

The gunman behind a rampage in downtown Ottawa, Canada is dead along with a soldier shot during the gunman’s initial volley.

The soldier was a ceremonial sentry guarding the National War Memorial.  Ottawa police confirmed the soldier died at the hospital from gunshot wounds.

The gunman, whose name is being withheld by police, died after engaging in a gun battle with Parliament Hill security and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police inside the Centre Block of Parliament Hill.  The battle took place outside the doors where the Conservative and NDP caucuses were meeting.

The gunman was just outside the door where Canada’s Prime Minster, Stephen Harper, was meeting with officials.   Security was able to rush Harper out of a back entrance away from the shooter.

“A series of gunshots rang out and we realized they were right on the other side of the door. And it isn’t a very strong door. We put up these flimsy little tables to get people behind and get them under chairs. We wanted to make sure that everyone was safe,” Member of Parliament Charlie Angus told the Ottawa Citizen.

Witnesses inside Centre Block say between 30 and 50 shots were heard during the gun battle.  Witnesses at the initial shooting site said that the gunman just jumped from a car with a rifle.

“I heard a bunch of pops and I looked over at the War Memorial and I saw a man with a rifle shooting at innocent people,” construction worker Matthew Blais said. “We ducked for cover. Then we saw him jump into a green car and head up the street. He parked right in front of Parliament and ran into the building.”

The attack comes days after an Islamic extremist committed a hit and run attack on Canadian soldiers.

Canada is scheduled to begin bombing runs against ISIS with the United States this week.

Shots Fired in Canadian Parliament Building; Soldier Killed

Police are on the hunt for several suspects after a series of shootings took place in three locations in Ottawa, including the Parliament building.

Witnesses reported a gunman shooting and killing a military guard posted at the National War Museum, then entering the adjacent Parliament building where multiple shots were heard around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. Shots were also reported at the Rideau Centre shopping center, located only a few blocks away from the Parliament building.

The attacks were reported hours after Canada raised its terror threat level due to the death of another soldier on Monday. The soldier was killed by a radical jihadist.

At this time there is no confirmation that any of this week’s attacks are linked to ISIS or any terrorist organization.

FOX News: Connecticut woman killed after Capitol Hill chase reportedly had mental health issues

The suspect in the high-speed chase between the White House and the Capitol Building was identified Friday by a law enforcement source as a dental hygienist from Connecticut with a history of mental issues.

The source identified the woman as Miriam Carey, 34, of Stamford, Conn. Carey tried to plow her car into a barricade at the White House, then led cops on a high-speed chase before being shot dead near the Capitol, according to reports.

Other reports suggest that she had a history of mental health issues.

Carey’s apartment in Stamford was swarmed by the FBI and various law-enforcement agencies Thursday evening, with helicopters circling and a bomb squad ready, as they awaited a warrant to search the premises.

Source: FOX News – FOX News: Connecticut woman killed after Capitol Hill chase reportedly had mental health issues

ABC News: Attempt to Ram White House Gate Ends With Female Suspect Dead

An attempt to ram the White House gates ended with shots fired, U.S. senators put under lockdown in the Capitol, and a female suspect dead, sources told ABC News.

A police officer was also reported shot, sources said.

Secret Service pursued a suspect from the White House to the Capitol. One agent in a marked Secret Service vehichle was injured when the car in which he was chasing the suspect was upended by an electronic barricade by the Capitol as it rose out of the ground.

Lawmakers reported hearing three pops that sounded like gunfire.

“We heard pops that sounded like shots,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

Source: ABC News – ABC News: Attempt to Ram White House Gate Ends With Female Suspect Dead

CBS DC: Capitol On Lockdown After Shots Fired

The U.S. Capitol building is on lockdown following reports of shots fired nearby.

WNEW’s Kevin Rincon reports that Capitol police rushed the building and a bomb squad is present. Fire trucks are blocking Constitution Avenue and 1st Street and the area is swamped with police cruisers.

There are unconfirmed reports that one police officer has been injured, according to the Associated Press.

People standing outside the Supreme Court across the street from Congress were hurried into the court building by authorities.

Source: CBS DC – CBS DC: Capitol On Lockdown After Shots Fired

NBC News: U.S. Capitol placed on lockdown

The United States Capitol was placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon following reports of shots fired in the vicinity of the chamber. At least one Capitol Police officer was injured.

The FBI was responding to the unconfirmed reports of shots, and a helicopter landed in front of the Capitol. A message from the Capitol Police ordered anyone in a House office to “shelter in place.”

“Close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows,” the message said.

The House recessed, and the Senate went into a quorum call — dispensing momentarily with its official business — shortly thereafter.

Source: NBC News – NBC News: U.S. Capitol placed on lockdown