Thursday, October 23, 2014

Boko Haram Seizes 25 Girls From Nigeria Town
Kidnapped high school students from Chibok.
Thursday, October 23, 2014, 21:45

Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 25 girls in an attack on a remote town in northeastern Nigeria, witnesses said, despite talks on freeing over 200 other female hostages they seized in April.

John Kwaghe, who witnessed the attack and lost three daughters to the abductors, and Dorathy Tizhe, who lost two, said the kidnappers came late in the night, forcing all the women to go with them, then later releasing the older ones. The attack cast further doubt on government reports that it has secretly reached a temporary ceasefire with the rebels to secure the release of more than 200 schoolgirls they are holding hostage.

Parental plea

“We are confused that hours after the so-called ceasefire agreement has been entered between the Federal Government and Boko Haram insurgents, our girls were abducted by the insurgents,” Mr Kwaghe said. “We urge the government to please help rescue our daughters without further delay, as we are ready to die searching.”

Nearly a week after the government announced a ceasefire deal with Boko Haram, which it said would include the release of the girls kidnapped from the secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria in April, there is still no sign of them being freed.

Talks to release the schoolgirls are taking place this week between the government and a Boko Haram representative in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, but they are shrouded in secrecy.

In a separate attack, a bomb exploded late on Wednesday at a bus station in the town of Azare in northern Nigeria’s Bauchi state, killing at least five people and wounding 12, police said. They did not say who was behind the attack, although Boko Haram is likely to be the prime suspect.

The insurgents have repeatedly bombed public places since launching an uprising demanding an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria five years ago. They have stepped up their campaign this year, setting off blasts across the country that killed hundreds.

They have killed many thousands and are increasingly targeting civilians in violence seen as the biggest threat to the stability of Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.

“Five persons burned beyond recognition were certified dead, while 12 others sustained various degrees of injuries,” Bauchi police spokesman Haruna Mohammed said in a statement. “The entire surrounding [area] has been cordoned off . . . No arrest has yet been made, but an investigation has commenced.”

The attacks have raised doubts over the ceasefire, although Boko Haram is so factionalised it is possible a truce has been reached with one group while others continue with violence.

– (Reuters)
Let's Speak the Language We Dream In
Mandla Langa writes on South African language and literature.
African writers must embrace their own tongues lest we drown in an English-dominated world

17 Oct 2014 00:00
Mandla Langa

The vexed question of language dominated last Wednesday evening’s launch of my novel The Texture of Shadows at the auditorium of the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg in the Eastern Cape.

Earlier in the day I had visited the museum, library and archive. Stammering with memory and unresolved aspirations, the images, artefacts and an encounter with the widowed Ntsiki Biko at the centre took me back to the heyday of the black consciousness movement, as did the visit to Biko’s well-tended grave. It had originally been planned as a mausoleum. Uncomfortable with ostentation in a region struggling with the deaths of young people from HIV and Aids, the Steve Biko Foundation quickly scotched this notion.

One was struck by the age disparity of the audience at the launch. It was comprised mainly of very young people and very old people, as though the cohorts of those aged between their mid-20s and mid-30s had simply disappeared. This, therefore, meant those who had just woken up to the realities of what it meant to be young, black and poor in a democratic state had a shared experience with those who were once young, black and poor in an apartheid state.

It is impossible – unless one is fatally oblivious to one’s surroundings – to ignore the effect of language, of English, when one is faced with an audience that is overwhelmingly black. The Eastern Cape is a region once blessed with an unerring cultural instinct; it gave us Enoch Sontonga, SEK Mqhayi, Tiyo Soga and AC Jordan, and it formed the epicentre of the struggle against apartheid.

Today, in the Eastern Cape, there is no mistaking the decline of isiXhosa as a language of discourse. Whereas KwaZulu-Natal, for instance, boasts a vibrant resurgence of isiZulu, from the initiatives at tertiary institutions to burgeoning isiZulu-language newspapers such as Ilanga and Isolezwe and an isiZulu version of the Sunday Times, the Eastern Cape has lost most of its flagship isiXhosa titles.

The indigenous languages might experience differing degrees of marginalisation, with some possibly getting a better deal, but the stubborn fact is that they are all being marginalised.

Though some black people might find this unpalatable, I believe that we are the main architects of the destruction of our languages. For a reason that’s possibly not hard to find, we have relegated our languages to second-class status. Even in instances where we could have communicated differently, we have opted to use English – even in meetings where almost all members of the community speak one indigenous language or another.

Leaders address congregations of black people, at funerals, rallies or in media broadcasts, in a language hardly spoken by the community – sometimes barely by the leader himself. This makes us easy victims of misinterpretation. We’re also likely to reflect what we’re thinking in, say, Setswana or Tshivenda, in English, with disastrous consequences. This is possibly why we have no parallel when it comes to interlocutors claiming to have been quoted out of context.

Now, the man or woman “on the ground” has no choice but to listen and make the best of a bad bargain when faced with official bombast in English. Parents are the ones who will scrimp and scrape to put their child into school, for the simple optimistic reason that their charge would, one day, use the education to deliver them from poverty. English is the most important element of a code to decipher the hieroglyphics of power and prestige.

All this, however, is a carry-over from an unaddressed past. It is a past that hangs over the present and gives it shape and content. It is a past of inequalities and iniquities where for centuries language has been used to subjugate and brainwash. One might say that we fared a lot better than the slaves plucked from Africa to enrich the West and give it the arrogance to turn a scornful gaze on the continent and call her children benighted and shiftless. This past goes to the very heart of our culture.

One would like to believe that bodies such as the Pan South African Language Board, which is charged with protecting and promoting people’s linguistic rights, are doing their best. Their efforts, however, are subverted by attitudes that come from policy weaknesses.

One believes that South Africa is a country with a wide gulf between intention and implementation. As a former regulator in broadcasting and telecommunications, I’m still baffled by the fact that today, in 2014, we still have local content quotas.

Go anywhere in the world – in Brazil, for instance, you’re under no illusion on hitting Rio that you’re in Brazil. The music, the films, the telenovelas are all homegrown. Local content is the norm.

I will not go into the shark-infested waters of affirmative action in a country that is overwhelmingly black.

On the question of language, an issue arises about black writers writing in English. I remember our poet laureate, Keorapetse Kgositsile, telling me how Mazisi Kunene used to refer to the English used by African writers as “Fanakalo”.

When this came up at the launch, I had a moment of déjà vu, taken back to some of the no-holds-barred debates among writers and scholars at the Africa Centre on Covent Garden, or at a book fair hosted by the Camden Centre on Bidborough Street, in the London of our exile. There, you’d have the celebrated Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o holding forth on why he would henceforth write in his native Kikuyu. Someone, perhaps Nuruddin Farah, would counter that Ngugi was free to hold such views because he knew he would be translated almost immediately on publication.

My belief is that writers have to write. They have to use the tools at their disposal. Language is one of the major tools. But the language has to be informed or underpinned by skill, because writing is a craft.

One of the biggest problems facing South African writers of every stripe is impatience to be published. The second, which leads wannabe writers to file off intemperate missives, is to take rejection personally and ascribe race or some form of negrophobia as the reason. In my short life on this earth I have come across numerous disappointed white writers; two or three of them have blamed transformation for their rejection.

South Africa has been blessed with writers such as the late Nadine Gordimer, who understood that, sometimes, people – black and white – had to write in the colonialist’s language to write against the colonialist. I believe that language has to be appropriated and tempered – what we call “ukukokotela” in the parlance of the street – and express what needs to be conveyed.

English has become another language. This is what the world has to confront. Yet the writer who has appropriated English, in whatever form, has to know that it is a language laced with poison.

Gabriel Okara wrote The Voice, a novel of immense beauty, in the Ijaw idiom of Nigeria. Reading this story of struggle and commitment, the reader forgets that the vehicle carrying the story forth is English, and the sensibility towards redemption is Nigerian.

This, however, does mean that the powers that be have to be more coherent in the championing of all our languages. The scholars, publishers, writers and researchers have to collaborate in this quest.

There are commissions galore on the question of language, but they have to be harmonised. Our institutions have to resuscitate literary prizes for literature in indigenous languages. These are baby steps. The bigger step is for government to intervene and take control and remember it is governing in the interest of the majority.

Or else there’ll be service delivery protests by people who will demand to be addressed in the languages of their dreams.

The Texture of Shadows is published by Picador Africa. Mandla Langa’s previous novel, The Lost Colours of the Chameleon, won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best Book award, Africa region.
Military Observers to Deploy in Mozambique
FRELIMO President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique was recently
elected.
October 23, 2014

MAPUTO. — Military observers from up to nine countries will be deployed across Mozambique later this month to ensure post-election tensions do not spell a return to violence.

Government minister Jose Pacheco said details of the mission were still “a work in progress”, but the deployment will begin on October 29.

The soldiers are part of a 90-plus African, European and North American observer mission tasked with monitoring a cessation of hostilities between the Frelimo-led government and their electoral opponents in Renamo.

“We decided that from (the) 29th this month, the military observers will be deployed into the four provinces,” Pacheco said naming Sofala and Tete provinces (in central Mozambique), Nampula (north) and Inhambane (south).

Renamo and Frelimo waged a 16-year war that ended in 1992, but not before causing the deaths of an estimated one million people.

After a 20-year hiatus that saw Mozambique emerge from Cold War chaos, Renamo’s leader Afonso Dhlakama returned to the bush in late 2012 and his supporters began a low-level insurgency.

A deal was reached in September to end that second, less bloody, conflict.

Pacheco said the personnel — who are expected to be drawn from Botswana, Britain, Cape Verde, Italy, Kenya, Portugal, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe — would help the next step in the peace deal.

He hoped the mission would “create the conditions to start to integrate Renamo soldiers into the Mozambican police and military.”

Dhlakama and his supporters accuse Frelimo — which is on course to win recent elections by a landslide — of abusing power and call for a bigger slice of Mozambique’s natural resource wealth.

Foreign observers on Tuesday voiced concern over alleged irregularities in the counting of votes from last week’s presidential and legislative polls.

Provisional tallies by the national electoral commission so far are showing the ruling Frelimo party, in power since independence in 1975, leading with around 60 percent of the votes.

— AFP.
Somalia Asks Sierra Leone Troops be Excluded From AMISOM Rotation
Sierra Leone troops being inspected by AFRICOM.
October 23, 2014
sabahionline.com

Somali leaders have asked that troops from Sierra Leone be excluded from African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) rotations due to the threat of Ebola, Somalia's RBC Radio reported Wednesday (October 23rd).

"To avoid the potential risk of transporting Ebola into our country, we have raised our concern to the African Union and the government of Sierra Leone," Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari told the legislature Wednesday. "We have written officially to these entities and told them to stop troops' rotation."

"We are driven by the fact that our people are very vulnerable to the spread of the disease and we need to stand for the wellbeing of our citizens," he said.

Last week, a Sierra Leonean soldier was diagnosed with Ebola, though the country's government said he had not been in contact with the troops meant to be deployed to Somalia.

Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed said he discussed the Ebola issue with African Union officials and had ordered increased measures to prevent the spread of Ebola into Somalia, describing the virus as a "serious issue" which must be treated accordingly.

"We want the AU, together with our officials, to make sure that the rotation of troops from any affected country is suspended," he said.

The ministries of health and national security and all responsible government officials have been ordered to monitor the country's airports, borders and other locations to prevent the virus from entering Somalia, Ahmed said.
Somalian Pirates Still Holding 37 Sailors: UN Official
Somalian pirates on boat patrolling the ocean.
07:11 23/10/2014

NEW YORK, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - Somali pirates are still holding 37 sailors, raising serious international concern, UN official Jeffrey Feltman stated.

"Somali pirates are still holding 37 seafarers, which is a matter of serious international concern," Feltman said Wednesday, when reporting a decline in piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.

"Piracy off the coast of Somalia is one of the manifestations of a political problem, requiring a political solution. State collapse in Somalia and other political challenges lie at the root of the problem. Without the continued deterrence support provided by the international naval presence, the self-protection measures adopted by the shipping industry, and until such time as capacity-building efforts ashore have sufficient effect, large scale piracy may potentially return," he stated.

On September 24, a high-level meeting was convened in the United Nations on Somalia on the margins of the General Assembly debate "Implementing Vision 2016: Inclusive Politics in Action". It highlighted national reconciliation, the creation of electoral institutions, reinforcement of the rule of law as well as the delivery of public services. The meeting was co-chaired by Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

"The international community must continue to support the Somali Government in its efforts to deliver on its commitments outlined in Vision 2016 and the Somali Compact," Feltman added.
He additionally noted that "counter-piracy efforts should be an integral part of Somalia's state-building process".
Sustained Response to Somalia Piracy Requires Effective State Governance – UN Political Chief
Somalia pirates on the coast of the Horn of Africa state.
United Nations News Center

22 October 2014 – While noting the progress made to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, the United Nations political chief today said that a sustained long-term solution must include the presence of effective Government and State institutions that provide basic services and alternative ways for people to make a living.

Briefing the Security Council on piracy off the coast of the east African nation, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman today said that this multi-pronged approach may be “a daunting, but unavoidable task, for it will enable Somalia to effectively address, and ultimately defeat, piracy.”

“We should not only ask what more needs to be done to ensure that the scourge does not return, but also what kind of support could be provided to Somalia so that the country is able to respond to the threat of piracy without dependence on the countries support of international navies,” he said.

The decline in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia is an opportunity to review current efforts and take a long-term perspective on how best to contain Somali piracy including by addressing underlying conditions conducive to breeding piracy, such as political instability and the lack of alternative livelihoods.

“State collapse in Somalia and other political challenges lie at the root of the problem,” Feltman said, adding that this was acknowledged in relevant Security Council resolutions, including the most recent resolution 2125 (2013). Mr. Feltman also introduced to the Council the Secretary-General’s report on piracy submitted pursuant to that resolution.

Since the adoption of the first Security Council resolution on the matter in June 2008, some of the most urgent responses have revolved around the “twin axes of deterring pirate attacks and prosecuting and sanctioning of pirates,” he said.

Coordinated efforts by Member States, organizations and the maritime industry have caused incidents of piracy reported off the coast of Somalia to drop to their lowest levels in recent years. Indeed, the last time a large commercial vessel was hijacked was more than two years ago.

However, Mr. Feltman warns, that progress is in danger of reversing without continued deterrence from the international naval presence and the self-protection measures adopted by the shipping industry.

“This progress is fragile and reversible. We still see pirates attempting to attack vessels and capture them for ransom,” Mr. Feltman told the Council.

State-building and inclusive governance efforts in Somalia must be led and owned by Somalis themselves, he underscored. Moreover, the international community must continue to support the Somali Government in its efforts to deliver on its commitments outlined in Vision 2016 and the Somali Compact. Meanwhile, the UN must be involved in helping strengthen the capacity of Somalia and other region countries to prosecute pirates and to sanction those convicted.

“It is imperative that more nations criminalise piracy on the basis of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said, emphasizing the need to deter the financing of piracy and the laundering of ransom money.

It is critical that the international community support regional efforts to implement the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy), adopted by the African Union and other regional players to enable countries in the region to better address this scourge.

As it stands now, Somali pirates continue to hold 37 seafarers, which remains a matter of serious international concern. It is crucial that all efforts are made to secure and promptly release all hostages.
Somalia State-Building: The State of State-Building

By Anthony Morland
IRIN

Nairobi — A fence-mending deal signed this month by Somalia and Puntland has variously been hailed as a blueprint for stability and state-building in the wake of decades of civil war, and dismissed as a recipe for renewed inter-clan violence.

The 14 October agreement between the Mogadishu-based Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the autonomous Puntland State covers issues including bilateral relations, contentious political boundaries and national security.

The self-declared independent republic of Somaliland, which lies to the west of Puntland, said it felt threatened by the prospect of the new joint military force outlined in the agreement.

Federalism and its discontents

"Federal member states" are, according to a provisional constitution, the future building blocks of a more stable Somalia, but the process of creating them has been very contentious.

One of the key points of the agreement was to reassure Puntland that the nascent FGS-endorsed Central Regions State would not include any territory currently under Puntland's jurisdiction. (Puntland had in July cut ties with Mogadishu over the perceived inclusion of northern Mudug Province in Central Regions State.)

According to its final clause, the 14 October agreement, which was endorsed by the envoys of the UN, European Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), "ends any misunderstanding between the two parties and ushers in a new era of collaboration and cooperation to further enhance the ongoing state-building process at national and state levels and to address security matters."

Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, senior political adviser at IGAD, a grouping of regional states, explained the broader importance of the deal.

"The major significance is that it normalizes the relations between the FGS and Puntland. Prior to this, relations were at an all-time low and characterized by suspicion, especially after the Mogadishu government supported the formation of the Central State," he told IRIN.

African Union envoy Maman Sidikou said the deal could "serve as a blueprint for resolving differences in other Somali regions so that all efforts can be focused on providing peace and prosperity for all Somalis."

Some leaders from the emerging Central Regions State disagreed, reacting to the agreement with outrage, mainly because it reinforces the division of the Mudug Region along clan lines.

"This agreement goes against the provisional constitution of Somalia that clearly states that federal member states can only be formed through the amalgamation of two or more [whole] regions that existed prior to the [1991] downfall of Somalia's last central government," said Hassan Mohamud Hayl, speaker of parliament in Galmudug, one of the constituent areas of Central Regions State.

"This agreement will revive conflict and set the population of Mudug against each other and this has to stop," he told IRIN.

Ugaas Abdi Dahir, an influential Galmudug elder, warned that "if the government does not revisit this agreement, we will be forced to reconsider our relations with the federal government."

Political analyst Abdikadir Suleiman Mohamed said the deal "divides the people on clan lines because what it implies is that Darod-inhabited [northern] areas of the [Mudug] region will be ruled by Puntland while Hawiye-inhabited areas will be ruled by Hawiye, despite the fact that there are also other clans [in Mudug] who do not belong to these two major clans."

"Federalism should be based on geography and not clan considerations," he told IRIN, adding that the deal might encourage leaders in other emerging federal member states to encroach on neighbouring states on the grounds that certain clans predominated there.

"I doubt if this agreement will go anywhere because it is unconstitutional. Also the national commission for federalism and border demarcation has not yet been formed," Abdikadir Suleiman Mohamed pointed out.

For Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa director of the International Crisis Group, the 14 October deal "is symptomatic of the ad-hoc approach that is being taken to the federalism agenda, without a larger national dialogue...

"The UN mission in Somalia, the SFG, IGAD, the EU and other donors are now hooked into a continuing cycle of local, partial deals, all to meet a series of external deadlines that have never produced good politics in Somalia," he added.

Somaliland suspicious

In Somaliland, a northwestern area which unilaterally declared itself to be an independent state in 1991 and whose relations with Mogadishu are frosty, a senior government official told IRIN: "The only new thing is that they [Puntland and Somalia] want to build a single army in order to threaten Somaliland."

"As a government, we are closely following the situation as it unfolds and we will respond accordingly to any attempt at interference," said Mohamed Osman Dube, the administrative director of Somaliland's Ministry of Interior.

Dube said Mogadishu "was already involved in anti-Somaliland activities" notably in the Sool region, parts of which are claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland.

In Sool, according to the 2014 report by a UN-appointed Monitoring Group, "Somaliland forces have [in the past year] clashed with Puntland forces and militias loyal to Khatumo, a political organization based around the Dhulbahante clan that is pursuing the creation of a regional state within Somalia and separation from Somaliland."

"The region is particularly prone to conflict, given the competing claims by Somaliland, Puntland and Khatumo over oil-rich territory there and political infighting among the Dhulbahante, who are divided in loyalty between Puntland, Khatumo and Somaliland," the report said.

"This state of affairs has led to the militarization of the area, in particular since November 2013, and links in some cases to [jihadist insurgency] Al-Shabaab and in others to the Federal Government," it added.

Oil exploration licences in and near the Sool region have been issued by authorities in Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia - in some cases for the same blocs.

"When it comes to oil and gas, Somaliland will feel threatened [by the agreement]: If Puntland is swearing allegiance to Mogadishu, it is more likely to accept federal government fiats over oil licences in greater Somalia, even if they have signed their own licences," explained a regional political analyst who requested anonymity.

Somaliland is currently developing an Oil Protection Unit ostensibly to provide security to firms conducting seismic surveys. Concerns have been raised about the unit's potential to destabilize the oil-rich areas.

According to IGAD's Sheehk, "there is an ongoing dialogue between Mogadishu and [Somaliland capital] Hargeisa that is being facilitated by both Turkey and Qatar. Even though there hasn't been significant headway made, both sides are at least talking and taking each other seriously."

The regional analyst stressed that the 14 October deal needed to be complemented by efforts to improve governance.

If left unaddressed, "corruption, mismanagement, secret deals and the capture of public assets by narrow cliques in both Mogadishu and Puntland threaten to undermine any progress in state-building," he said.

"The issue of corruption is key and donors are heading to make a big mistake if they ignore it," he said, noting that not only was there no agreement over the sharing of state resources between Puntland and the FGS, but that there was little transparency over the value of their respective oil deals, port revenue and other public goods.

According to the Monitoring Group, the "systematic misappropriation, embezzlement and outright theft of public resources had [years ago] essentially become a system of governance" and had in some areas, such as "secret contracting" worsened since the 2012 installation of the internationally-supported and bankrolled FGS.

The argument that "a degree of diversion is inevitable or even acceptable as part of the State-formation process and the exercise of power under the prevailing conditions ... is not only inconsistent with the scale of irregular financial flows, but also disregards the importance of corruption to the chronic insecurity of Somalia," it said.

"In its investigations, the Group has consistently found patterns of misappropriation with diversion rates of between 70 and 80 percent. The indications are that diverted funds are used for partisan agendas that constitute threats to peace and security."

This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Pan-African News Wire.
NYPD Cop Attacked With Hatchet, Suspect Shot Dead
Scene of attack against police officer in Queens.
BY RICHARD ESPOSITO
NBC News

A rookie police officer was struck in the head by a man wielding a hatchet in the New York City borough of Queens Thursday, in an assault that has police checking for any ties to terror organizations or whether the attack could have been inspired by Wednesday’s lone-wolf attack in Canada.

Police opened fire, killing the 32-year-old suspect and wounding a woman who was nearby, according to officials. The officer, 25, survived the attack. A second police officer, 24, was struck with the hatchet in the arm and is also being treated. The name of the suspect was not immediately released.

The 2 p.m. apparently unprovoked attack occurred as four police officers were posing for a passing photographer when the suspect charged the group, swinging a hatchet with a four-and-a-half-inch blade, officials said. He struck one officer in the arm and another in the head before two officers drew their weapons and opened fire as he swung the hatchet a third time, officials said.

"No known motive for this attack has been established," Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters.

The officer struck in the head suffered a fractured skull and was in surgery Thursday evening. As police investigated the scene they discovered a woman a half-block away had been shot in the lower back. She was operated on and is in stable condition.

Thursday evening the New York Police Department issued a patrol bulletin alerting officers to be in a state of heightened awareness after Wednesday’s murder of a Canadian soldier and shootout at the Parliament complex in Ottawa. The bulletin warns of potential attacks on uniformed officers.

Police from the Intelligence Division are checking the suspect’s hard drives for any cyber activity. There is nothing at this time connecting him to any radical group and the police are still determining the identity of the suspect, officials said.
Ebola Outbreak: NY Doctor Craig Spencer Tests Positive
An Ebola patient is being treated at Bellvue Hospital in New York.
BBC World News

A New York doctor who had recently travelled to the Ebola-ravaged West African country of Guinea has tested positive for the disease, New York officials have said.

Dr Craig Spencer, who worked for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), came down with a fever on Thursday.

He is the first Ebola case diagnosed in New York, the largest city in the US.

More than 4,800 people have died of Ebola - mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - since March.

Dr Spencer fell ill with a fever and diarrhoea on Thursday and was taken to New York City's Bellevue Hospital, where he was immediately placed into isolation, the officials said.

Health department officials fanned out into the city in an effort to trace his contacts and identify anyone at risk of having caught the disease from Dr Spencer.

Ebola patients are only infectious if they have symptoms, and the disease is only transmittable through bodily fluids, experts say.

Dr Spencer is the fourth person to be diagnosed with the disease in the US.

The first caught Ebola in his native Liberia and travelled to Dallas, Texas, before his symptoms set in. He died on 8 October.

Two nurses who treated him in Dallas subsequently came down with the disease and are recovering in hospital.

Vaccine research

Meanwhile, on Thursday the West African country of Mali confirmed its first Ebola case - a two-year-old girl recently returned from Guinea.

The girl's mother died in Guinea a few weeks ago and the child was then brought by relatives to Mali, Reuters news agency quotes a health ministry official as saying.

Mali is now the sixth West African country to be affected by the latest Ebola outbreak - however Senegal and Nigeria have since been declared virus-free by the WHO.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) has already identified at least two experimental vaccines which it believes could be promising.

At a meeting in Geneva, the UN health body said it wanted tests of the vaccines to be completed by the end of December.

The WHO says 443 health workers have contracted Ebola, of whom 244 have died.
Doctor in New York City Tests Positive for Ebola
Dr. Craig Spencer has tested positive for the Ebola Virus
Disease in New York.
By MARC SANTORA
New York Times
OCT. 23, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio Hosts Press Conference with Governor Cuomo Video by NYC Mayor's Office
A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive for the Ebola virus Thursday, becoming the city’s first diagnosed case.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center on Thursday and placed in isolation while health care workers spread out across the city to trace anyone he might have come into contact with in recent days. A further test will be conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the initial test.

While officials have said they expected isolated cases of the disease to arrive in New York eventually, and had been preparing for this moment for months, the first case highlighted the challenges surrounding containment of the virus, especially in a crowded metropolis.

Even as the authorities worked to confirm that Mr. Spencer was infected with Ebola, it emerged that he traveled from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the subway on Wednesday night, when he went to a bowling alley, and then took a taxi home.

The next morning, he reported having a temperature of 103 degrees, raising questions about his health while he was out in public.

People infected with Ebola cannot spread the disease until they begin to display symptoms, and it cannot be spread through the air. As people become sicker, the viral load in the body builds, and they become more and more contagious.

Dr. Spencer’s travel history and the timing of the onset of his symptoms led health officials to dispatch disease detectives, who “immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk,” according to a statement released by the department.

It was unclear if the city was trying to find people who might have come into contact with Dr. Spencer on the subway. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority directed all questions to the health department, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the issue.

At Dr. Spencer’s apartment in Harlem, his home was sealed off and workers distributed informational fliers about the disease. It was not clear if anyone was being quarantined.

Health authorities declined to say how many people in total might have come into contact with Dr. Spencer while he was symptomatic.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a news conference Thursday evening before the diagnosis, said Dr. Spencer has given health workers a detailed accounting of his activities over the last few days.

“Our understanding is that very few people were in direct contact with him,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Dr. Spencer had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, treating Ebola patients, before returning to New York City on Oct. 14, according to a city official.

He told the authorities that he did not believe the protective gear he wore while working with Ebola patients had been breached but had been monitoring his own health.

Doctors Without Borders, in a statement, said it provides guidelines for its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, but did not elaborate on those protocols.

“The individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately,” the group said in a statement.

Dr. Spencer began to feel sluggish on Tuesday but did not develop a fever until Thursday morning, he told the authorities. At 11 a.m., the doctor found that he had a 103-degree temperature and alerted the staff of Doctors Without Borders, according to the official.

The staff of Doctors Without Borders called the city’s health department, which in turn called the Fire Department.

Emergency medical workers, wearing full personal protective gear, rushed to Dr. Spencer’s apartment, on West 147th Street. He was transported to Bellevue and arrived shortly after 1 p.m.

He was placed in a special isolation unit and is being seen by the pre-designated medical critical care team. They are in personal protective equipment with undergarment air ventilation systems.

Bellevue doctors have prepared for an Ebola patient with numerous drills and tests using “test patients” as well as actual treatment of suspected cases that turned out to be false alarms.

A health care worker at the hospital said that Dr. Spencer seemed very sick, and it was unclear to the medical staff why he had not gone to the hospital earlier, since his fever was high.

Dr. Spencer is a fellow of international emergency medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and an instructor in clinical medicine at Columbia University.

“He is a committed and responsible physician who always puts his patients first,” the hospital said in a statement. “He has not been to work at our hospital and has not seen any patients at our hospital since his return from overseas.”

Even before the diagnosis, the Centers for Disease Control dispatched a team of experts to assist in the case, before the test results were even known.

More than 30 people have gone to city hospitals and raised suspicions of Ebola, but in all those cases, health workers were able to rule it out without a blood test.

While the city stepped up its laboratory capacity so it can get test results within four to six hours, because of the precautions that need to be taken when drawing blood and treating a person possibly sick with Ebola, it took until late in the evening to confirm the diagnosis.

But doctors said that even before the results came in, it seemed likely that he was infected. Symptoms usually occur within eight to 10 days of infection and Dr. Spencer was home nine days when he reported feeling ill.

Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids and secretions, including blood, mucus, feces and vomit.

A doctor, who was recently in West Africa treating Ebola patients, was taken Thursday from his apartment in Harlem to Bellevue Hospital Center after he reported a high fever.

The patient is in one of four isolation rooms in the infectious disease ward on an upper floor of this building. The rooms have been designated for high-probability or confirmed Ebola cases. The ward also has a lab to handle Ebola blood samples.

Because of its high mortality rate — Ebola kills more than half of the people it infects — the disease spreads fear along with infection.

The authorities have been on high alert ever since Thomas Eric Duncan traveled to the United States in September from Liberia, and was later given a diagnosis of Ebola.

Mr. Duncan died at a Dallas hospital this month.

Several days after his death, a nurse who helped care for Mr. Duncan learned she had Ebola. Two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan fell ill but have since recovered.

That single case led to hundreds of people being quarantined or being asked to remain isolated from the general public..

The missteps by both local and federal authorities in handling the nation’s first Ebola case raised questions about the ability of health care workers to safely treat those with the disease.

In the New York City region, hospitals and emergency workers have been preparing for the appearance of the virus for months.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and a special adviser to Mayor de Blasio, said that the risk to the general public was minimal, but depended on a city moving swiftly.

“New York has mobilized not only a world-class health department, but has full engagement of many other agencies that need to be on the response team,” he said.

Reporting was contributed by Matt Flegenheimer, J. David Goodman, Kia Gregory and Anemona Hartocollis, and research by Jack Begg and Elisa Cho.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Egypt-Ethiopia Meeting Delayed to November for Further Preparations 
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn with Egyptian President
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Ahram Online, Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

The talks in Addis Ababa, now planned for 1-3 November, come after a recent tripartite meeting over Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam

A ministerial Egyptian-Ethiopian commission delayed its first meeting, initially planned for Wednesday, to November to make room for more preparations, in yet another series of talks over the disputed Grand Renaissance Dam.

Bilateral relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have improved after months of strained ties over the dam Ethiopia is building, which Egypt says will affect its share of the Nile's water.

In the latest meeting in Cairo last week, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to receive offers from consultancy firms in order to choose one to conduct more studies on the dam's possible effects.

Egypt's state news agency MENA said that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and his Ethiopian counterpart on Wednesday discussed the logistical preparations for the commission to ensure the best outcome for both countries.

The commission meetings will take place from 1-3 November, MENA said, after initially being planned for 22 October. Both sides decided to postpone it to give time for more preparations.

The commission will include the two countries' ministers of foreign affairs, irrigation and agriculture, investment, trade, transport and electricity.

Other meetings between Egyptian and Ethiopian businessmen are expected to take place.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Ethiopia's prime minister at the African Summit and then later in the United States at the United Nations General Assembly. El-Sisi said he intends to visit Ethiopia for more talks, but hasn't set a date for the visit yet.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/113719.aspx
Policeman Killed, Another Injured in Upper Egypt Shooting
Egyptian police at Cairo University.
Ahram Online , Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Drive-by shooting in the southern governorate of Minya kills one, inures another; minor bombing in Nile Delta injures two others

A policeman was killed on Wednesday in a drive-by shooting in southern Egypt, state news agency MENA reported, the latest in a wave of attacks targeting the country's police and troops.

Unknown assailants opened fire on a security checkpoint in the northern part of Minya, killing the driver of a police vehicle and injuring an officer, according to provincial security head Osama Metwalli.

Security forces were combing the area in search of the culprits.

Also on Wednesday, a security official denied initial reports of an improvised bomb in Gharbiya's city of Kafr Al-Zayat, northwest of Cairo. Osama Bedir told state news agency MENA that the minor explosion happened when a worn out battery of a motorcycle caught on fire.

The explosion was initially reported to be an improvised bomb, according to Al-Ahram, citing security official Osama Bedir.

However, Bedir later denied that the explosion came from a bomb, telling state news agency MENA that it occurred when a worn-out battery of a motorcycle caught on fire.

Egypt has been rocked by a deadly Islamist insurrection, based in North Sinai, which has killed hundreds of police and military personnel since mid-2013.

Bombings and shootings have also targeted mainland cities including the capital Cairo and the Nile Delta, causing civilian casualties.

On Sunday, six members of Egypt's security forces were killed in a roadside bomb in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish.

Late last week, three policemen were killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Sinai, and 11 others were injured in a bomb attack on a religious festival in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

The challenge to combat militant violence is compounded by the rise of Islamic State militants who have seized large territories of Syria and Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate.

Egyptian officials are concerned the group has inspired or established links with militant groups in Egypt, including those based in the borderlands of the Sinai Peninsula.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/113692.aspx
Shots Fired From Egypt Wound Two Israeli Soldiers: Tel Aviv Spokesman
Egypt-Israeli crossing at Taba.
Ahram Online, Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Israeli military spokesman says Israeli patrol was fired at from the Sinai Peninsula

An Israeli military spokesman said that two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a "cross-border attack from Egypt."

Peter Lerner, Israel Defense Forces spokesman for international media, made the statement on his official Twittter account on Wednesday afternoon.

Lerner said those injured are two infantry members - one man and one woman - from the mixed-sex combat unit Caracal Battalion.

Israeli daily Haaretz said troops have been sent to the scene.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Senior Israeli military officers were convening to assess the situation following the attack, said Avichay Adraee, Israeli army spokesman for Arab media.

He quoted another spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces as saying that "the army would not hesitate to respond to any attacks on its soldiers or citizens."

The Egyptian army is battling a simmering Islamist insurrection based in the mountainous peninsula, killing hundreds of extremist fighters since it waged a broad operation to stamp out militancy over a year ago.

Hundreds of Egyptian police and troops have been killed in bombing and shooting attacks since mid-2013.

Militants in the Sinai have occasionally launched cross-border strikes on Israel, but have more recently focused on battling forces at home.

On 15 July, four Israeli civilians were wounded when militant fighters in Sinai launched two rockets at the southern Israeli resort of Eilat.

In January, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt's most active militant group, claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Eilat, which caused no casualties.

In September 2012, an Israeli soldier was killed when three militants infiltrated Israel from Sinai, and in July of the same year militants shot dead a worker building a section of an Israeli barrier along the border.

Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 under which portions of Sinai must remain demilitarised.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/113703.aspx
Officials Say Cairo University Bomb Was Detonated by Mobile Phone; Injury Toll 11 
A reported bomb explosion took place at Cairo University.
Ahram Online , Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Prosecutors examining on Wednesday evening the scene of the explosion outside Cairo University say the perpetrators likely used a mobile phone to detonate the explosive device, according to Ahram Arabic news website. They said that the bomb was placed in a gas pipeline and was clearly aimed to target policemen stationed across from the university.

An improvised bomb had gone off Wednesday afternoon outside Cairo University, injuring six policemen and five civilians.

The explosive device had detonated near a faculty building across the street from the main university campus in Giza, the site of a previous deadly bombing.

The wounded have been transferred to police and civilian hospitals.

Prosecutors say one police soldier is in serious condition at the Police Hospital.

Cairo University, along with other campuses nationwide, has been a scene of unrest since the start of the new academic year two weeks ago, with recurrent clashes occurring between police and alleged Islamist students protesting against the government.

Police forces are stationed to secure universities from the outside, but they enter university grounds on occasion in order to quell on-campus protests. Falcon, a private security company, has been charged with securing the entrances of Cairo University among 15 other public universities nationwide.

No party has so far claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing.

In April, a series of consecutive explosions took place at the same spot outside Cairo University, killing a senior police officer and wounding five other security personnel.

Over a week ago, a homemade bomb exploded near the Supreme Court in downtown Cairo, wounding 12 people.

Last month, a bomb blast hit near Egypt's foreign ministry headquarters, also in central Cairo, killing two policemen and ending a months-long lull from deadly attacks in the capital. The attack was claimed by a jihadist group called Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt.)

Egyptian authorities have been battling a mounting insurgency, based in the border Sinai Peninsula, since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Militant attacks have killed hundreds of police and army troops, but civilians have also died in the violence.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/113717.aspx
U.S.-installed Rebels in Libya Poised for Major Battle Over Control of Tripoli
Hotel in Tobruk where one faction of the rebels are hole up.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Libya’s United States installed neo-colonial regime ordered on Tuesday its rebel fighters, led by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative and renegade General Khalifa Haftar, to advance on the capital Tripoli and called for a civil disobedience there against armed Islamist groups.

Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani’s cabinet said in statement posted on Facebook that the rebels have the green light to “liberate” Tripoli “and state institutions from the grip of armed groups.”

The cabinet also urged Tripoli residents to launch “a civil disobedience campaign until the arrival of the army.”

In an interview with AFP Saturday, Thani said rebel forces in the strife-torn country had united to try to recapture Tripoli and second city Benghazi from Islamist militias.

Islamist militias who have seized Tripoli and other parts of Libya have their own government and parliament.

Their Prime Minister Omar al-Hasi met a Turkish envoy on Tuesday, in the first publicly known diplomatic meeting with a foreign representative.

Several high-profile foreign officials, among them U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, visited Tripoli and Tobruk this month but none its publicly know to have met Hasi.

Since a 2011 CIA-Pentagon-NATO coordinated and financed counter-revolution that toppled longtime leader Muammar Qaddafi, interim authorities have failed to rebuild the regular army and had to rely on state-backed militias.

Thani’s rebel regime and the parliament elected in June have taken refuge in the country’s east to escape Fajr Libya, a coalition of militias that seized Tripoli at the end of August, driving out rival militiamen, and has set up a rival administration.

Commanders of Fajr Libya say they are not Islamists but rather “revolutionaries” working to “correct the revolutionary process.”

In the western town of Kekla, pro- and anti-government militias clashed on Tuesday with heavy weapons and rockets, an AFP photographer said.

According to the town’s mayor, Nureddin Meftah, more than 100 people have been killed and 300 wounded since pro-regime militias from Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, attacked their pro-Fajr Libya rivals in Kekla on Oct. 11.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualty figures.
Probe: UNC Academic Fraud Was 'Shadow Curriculum'
A report says that the University of North Carolina used a fake
Black Studies program to exploit athletic students.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Oct 22, 2014, 8:22 PM ET
By AARON BEARD and EMERY P. DALESIO Associated Press

A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, encompassing about 1,500 athletes who got easy A's and B's over a span of nearly two decades, according to an investigation released Wednesday.

At least nine university employees were fired or under disciplinary review, and the question now becomes what, if anything, the NCAA will do next. Penalties could range from fewer scholarships to vacated wins.

Most of the athletes were football players or members of the school's cherished basketball program, which won three of its five national titles during the scandal (1993, 2005, 2009).

Athletic director Bubba Cunningham wouldn't speculate on any possible sanctions.

"We'll work with the NCAA and work through the report with them as part of our ongoing investigation," Cunningham said. "That's going to take some time."

In all, about 3,100 students enrolled in classes they didn't have to show up for in what was deemed a "shadow curriculum" within the former African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department from 1993 to 2011, the report by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found.

Many at the university hoped Wainstein's eight-month investigation would bring some closure. Instead, it found more academic fraud than previous investigations by the NCAA and the school.

The UNC case stands out among academic scandals at Harvard, Duke and the Naval Academy, said Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education who studies cheating.

"I think the existence of fake classes and automatic grades — you might say an athlete track, where essentially you might as well not have the university at all — I think that's pretty extreme. I hope it's pretty extreme," he said.

The scandal reached back to the final years of legendary men's basketball coach Dean Smith's tenure, as well as Mack Brown's time as football coach before leaving for Texas and John Swofford's stint as athletic director before becoming Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner.

The NCAA reopened its probe over the summer. Cunningham said the school had no immediate plans to impose its own penalties as it did during an NCAA investigation into the football program that began in 2010.

The school and the NCAA said in a joint statement they would review Wainstein's report "under the same standards that are applied in all NCAA infractions cases." They declined to comment on possible rules violations.

The focus was courses that required only a research paper that was often scanned quickly by a secretary, who gave out high grades regardless of the quality of work. The report also outlined how counselors for athletes steered struggling students to the classes, with two counselors even suggesting grades. Several knew the courses were easy and didn't have an instructor.

Chancellor Carol Folt wouldn't identify the terminated employees or those facing disciplinary review.

"I think it's very clear that this is an academic, an athletic and a university problem," Folt said.

Wainstein's report said it found no evidence of similar problems in other departments. In addition, Hall of Fame men's basketball coach Roy Williams and other current coaches said they were aware there were independent study courses offering easy grades, but they didn't know the classes were fake.

Wainstein said he found no reason not to believe them.

Faculty and administration officials missed or looked past red flags, such as unusually high numbers of independent study course enrollments in the department, the report said.

"By the mid-2000s, these classes had become a primary — if not the primary — way that struggling athletes kept themselves from having eligibility problems," the report said.

Unlike previous inquiries by former Gov. Jim Martin and the school, Wainstein had the cooperation of former department chairman Julius Nyang'oro and retired office administrator Deborah Crowder — the two people at the center of the scandal.

Nyang'oro was indicted in December on a felony fraud charge, though it was dropped after he agreed to cooperate with Wainstein's probe. Crowder was never charged.

It was Crowder who started the paper classes to help struggling students with "watered-down requirements" not long after Nyang'oro became chairman in 1992, according to the report. Though not a faculty member, she registered students for the courses, assigned topics and handed out high grades regardless of the work and also signed Nyang'oro's name to grade rolls.

By 1999, in an apparent effort to work around the number of independent studies students could take, Crowder began offering lecture classes that didn't meet.

After her retirement in 2009, Nyang'oro met requests from football counselors to continue the sham classes and graded papers "with an eye to boosting" a student's grade-point average, according to the report. He stepped down in 2011 as questions were raised.

Beth Bridger, one of the former football counselors named in Wainstein's report, was fired Wednesday as an academic adviser for athletes at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. A school spokeswoman Janine Iamunno said it would not comment further. Bridger was hired there in January.
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Associated Press writer Emery Dalesio contributed to this report.
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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
Man Stopped After Scaling White House Fence
Security surrounding White House.
Michael Winter and David Jackson,
USA TODAY 8:22 p.m. EDT October 22, 2014

The U.S. Secret Service is facing yet another probe from investigators: This time, on a claim that agents were called to help settle a local dispute with an agency employee's neighbor in rural Maryland instead of patrolling the Capitol.

For the second time in a month, a man has jumped the White House fence, but this time the intruder was immediately subdued Wednesday evening — by Secret Service dogs.

K-9 units took the man down on the North Lawn, reported an Al Jazeera America cameraman. Video showed the suspect kicking and punching the dogs, and then being surrounded immediately by officers about 7:30 p.m.

The White House was immediately put on lockdown.

It's the seventh time this year that someone has scaled the wrought-iron fence.

On Sept. 19, Omar Gonzalez, a 42-year-old Army vet who is unemployed and homeless, bolted across the lawn and into the White House before being apprehended. He had a 3½-inch folding, serrated knife in his pants and more than 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, parked nearby.

The unprecedented security breach led to congressional hearings and the resignation of Julia Pierson as Secret Service director.
Canada's Parliament Attacked, Soldier Fatally Shot Nearby
Canadian soldiers respond to parliament shooting.
7:38pm EDT
By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A gunman attacked Canada's parliament on Wednesday, with gunfire erupting near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking, and a soldier was fatally shot at a nearby war memorial, stunning the Canadian capital.

The gunman in the parliament building was shot dead, and Harper was safely removed in incidents that may have been linked to Islamic militants.

Witness accounts indicated the man who shot dead the soldier guarding the National War Memorial in central Ottawa, went on to attack the parliament building minutes later. Canadian police said however they could not "at this point" confirm it was the same person.

The shootings followed an attack on two soldiers in Quebec on Monday carried out by a convert to Islam. Two U.S. officials said U.S. agencies had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday's shootings was also a Canadian convert to Islam.

Witnesses said a flurry of shots were fired after a gunman entered the parliament building, pursued by police.

The assault took place very near the room where Harper was meeting with members of his Conservative party, a government minister said.

"PM (Harper) was addressing caucus, then a huge boom, followed by rat-a-tat shots. We all scattered.

It was clearly right outside our caucus door," Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement told Reuters.

The incident, shocking in Canada's normally tranquil capital, began shortly before 10 a.m. ET and was not over late in the afternoon. Parliament and buildings in downtown remained on emergency lockdown at 6 p.m.

Canadian police were investigating a man named as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as a possible suspect in the shootings, a source familiar with the matter said. U.S. government sources said the suspect was born Michael Joseph Hall but later changed his legal family name to Zehaf-Bibeau.

Security in Ottawa came under criticism after the gunman was able to run through the unlocked front door of the main parliament building. Police said an operation was under way to make parliament safe.

"It caught us by surprise... If we had known that this was coming, we would have been able to disrupt it," Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, (RCMP) told a news conference.

It was unclear whether there was any connection between Wednesday's shootings and an attack on Monday when a convert to Islam ran down two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal, before being shot dead by police in the first fatal attack on Canadian soil tied to Islamic militants.

No group, Islamic or otherwise, claimed responsibility for either the attack in Ottawa or the one near Montreal. Monday’s attacker, 25-year-old Martin Rouleau, who converted to Islam last year, was among 90 people being tracked by the RCMP on suspicion of taking part in militant activities abroad or planning to do so.

Canada announced this month it was joining the battle against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

GUNS DRAWN IN PARLIAMENT

From witness accounts it appeared the suspect dashed into parliament, ran past the room where Harper was speaking and was gunned down outside the entrance to the library, only about 60 feet (20 meters) away.

Dramatic video footage posted by the Globe and Mail newspaper showed police with guns drawn inside the main parliament building. At least a dozen loud bangs can be heard on the clip, echoing through the hallway.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun that parliament's head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, shot dead a suspected gunman.

Canadian cabinet minister Jason Kenney said a guard in parliament buildings was also wounded in the incident.

Harper stressed that government and parliament should continue its work, a spokesman said. "While the prime minister stated that facts are still being gathered, he condemned this despicable attack," the spokesman said.

Harper, who was meeting with cabinet ministers on Wednesday evening, was expected to make a statement later in the day.

Canada said on Tuesday it had raised the national terrorism threat level to medium from low because of a rise in "general chatter" from radical groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda but said there had not been a specific threat.

The RCMP's Michaud said the threat level on Parliament Hill had been on medium for some time.
The soldier who died in the shooting at the War Memorial was identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, according to his aunt.

Cirillo was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a regiment of Reserve Forces based in Hamilton, and was training to join the Canada Border Services Agency, a federal agency responsible for border and immigration enforcement, his aunt told The Globe and Mail.

It was not clear if Cirillo was armed or not when he was shot.

'YOU ARE IN DANGER HERE'

The attack on the heart of the country's government shook Canada's self-image as generally non-violent, particularly compared to the United States, where gun violence is much more common. Canadian cities and towns hiked security around government buildings, schools and mass transit systems.

As the drama in Ottawa unfolded, police in dark bulletproof vests and carrying automatic rifles flooded the streets near parliament, clearing several blocks of downtown Ottawa.

Some took cover behind vehicles and shouted to people to clear the area, saying: "We do not have the suspect in custody. You are in danger here."

When the shooting started, most members of parliament were in the two caucus rooms past which the gunman ran. Members were told to lock or barricade themselves in their rooms or offices, and stay away from the windows.

A tweeted picture sent from the room where the opposition New Democrats were holding a weekly caucus showed a pile of chairs jammed up against the main door to prevent anyone from entering.
U.S. officials said there was no specific indication of a similar attack in the United States, a strong Canadian ally, but reinforced warnings to Americans to be alert.

"As a matter of precaution due to recent events, the FBI has reminded our field offices and government partners to remain vigilant in light of recent calls for attacks against government personnel by terrorist groups and like-minded individuals," U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman Paul Bresson said.

Canadian and U.S. stock markets declined after the shootings in Ottawa. The Toronto Stock Exchange's TSX index .GSPTSE dropped 1.6 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gave back 0.7 percent.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States, and the regulations at one point included a national registry of rifles and shotguns. Legislation was passed in 2012 to scrap the registry.

Ottawa also has a low murder rate. There were nine homicides in 2013 and seven in 2012, in a city of 885,000 people. Compared with Capitol Hill in Washington, security on Parliament Hill is also fairly low key. Anybody could walk right up to the front door of parliament's Centre Block with arms and explosives without being challenged before entering the front door, where a few guards check accreditation.

Centre Block is the main building on Parliament Hill, a sprawling complex of buildings and open space in downtown Ottawa. It contains the House of Commons and Senate chambers as well as the offices of some members of parliament, senators, and senior administration for both legislative houses.

A construction worker who was on the scene in Ottawa when the shooting began told Reuters he heard a gunshot, and then saw a man with a scarf over his face running towards parliament.

"He was wearing blue pants and a black jacket and he had a double barreled shotgun and he ran up the side of this building here and hijacked a car at gunpoint," construction worker Scott Walsh told Reuters.

The driver got out safely, then the man drove the car to the Centre Block, where construction work is under way, Walsh said.

The Canadian military closed its bases across the country to the public following the events in Ottawa, CBC TV said.

The attacks in Ottawa and Quebec took place as the Canadian government prepared to boost the powers of its spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said last Thursday the new legislation would let the agency track and investigate potential terrorists when they travel abroad and ultimately prosecute them.

Outside Washington, unspecified extra security was authorized at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, where ceremonial guards mount a constant watch, a U.S. Defense Department official said.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins, Allison Martell, Solarina Ho, Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Allison Lampert and Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Jeff Mason, Mark Hosenball and Steve Holland in Washington; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Peter Galloway and Howard Goller)
Ottawa Shooting: Soldier Dies of Injuries, Gunman Also Shot Dead
Canadian security forces after shooting at Parliament in Ottawa.
Downtown Ottawa remains in lockdown as police conduct searches around parliamentary precinct

By Dean Beeby, CBC News
Oct 22, 2014 4:04 PM EDT

Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot and killed a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill's Centre Block nearby.

MPs and other witnesses reported 30 to 50 shots fired inside Parliament, and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, shot by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, according to MPs' accounts.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the Hill at the time of the shooting, but was safely taken away. Harper will make an address to the country later this evening.

Ottawa police confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that the soldier died from his injuries.

"One shooting victim succumbed to injuries. He was a member of the Canadian Forces," a release said.

Police are not releasing the soldier's name until next of kin are notified. CBC News has confirmed the soldier is a reservist from Hamilton.

Police also confirmed the death of a "male suspect" and added "there is no one in custody at this time."

'Unfolding situation'

Later in a news conference, police and military officials confirmed the incident is not over, saying people in the downtown core should remain vigilant and stay inside.

"This is a dynamic and unfolding situation," said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the national division.

Michaud also suggested that police had no forewarning of the attack, saying "it caught us by surprise." He added that it's too soon to say whether the dead gunman was already known to security officials.

Michaud added that police have maintained a "medium" level of security of Parliament for the past number of years, and that had not changed in recent days.

Police also would not say whether the gunman was a Canadian citizen or whether police had retrieved the weapon.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau asked witnesses to the incidents to come forward.

Ottawa Civic Hospital confirmed four people were taken to hospital: the soldier, who died, and three who are stable with minor injuries. One of those injured was a parliamentary security guard shot in the foot and later released from hospital, according to CBC's Judy Trinh.

Despite earlier reports of shots fired near the Rideau Centre shopping mall east of Parliament Hill, police later said "no incident occurred near the Rideau Centre."

Alain Merisier, who works at the cafeteria in one of the Parliament Buildings, told CBC News that he saw a man in a car at the Centre Block with a long gun.

Chaos and bravery inside Parliament

Cellphone video shot by a Globe and Mail reporter showed a chaotic scene in the elegant hallway leading from the front doors of Parliament's Centre Block to the Library of Parliament during the attack.

Ottawa War Memorial shooting

A sustained volley of shots was fired. Startled security personnel and political staff scrambled to take cover in the limestone alcoves as bullets flew.

In the minutes after the shooting on Parliament Hill, MPs and parliamentary staff began tweeting and telling reporters that it was Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who shot the gunman. The tweets included:

NDP MP Craig Scott: "MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs' caucus rooms."

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, former head of the Ontario Provincial Police and ex-Toronto chief of police: "I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe."

Justice Minister Peter MacKay: "Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes."

Cabinet ministers, MPs and journalists in the buildings housing the House of Commons and Senate were in lockdown as police tracked the gunman. Sources tell CBC News that Harper was on the Hill at the time, and was extracted safely from the area by security.

Opposition NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were also reported safe.

In a statement released earlier in the day by Harper's office, he said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were attacked."

His office released a photo of the prime minister being briefed away from Parliament Hill by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.

Harper's spokesman Carl Vallée said on Twitter that Harper also spoke briefly to U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon. Harper also spoke with Mulcair and Trudeau, the Prime Minister's Office said.

Rush to aid injured soldier

Earlier, police sealed off the area around the National War Memorial while the injured soldier was given emergency medical aid. He was later put into an ambulance.

"We were waiting there for a city tour and suddenly I heard four shots," said Jan Lugtenborg, a tourist visiting downtown Ottawa from Holland.

"Suddenly I saw a small guy with long black hair … with a long rifle, and he ran away after the shots, across streets in the direction of Parliament Hill," he said.

Raivo Nommick, another bystander, said "all of a sudden I just heard a shot, turned around and there was a guy with a rifle .... and just pow pow.

"Then I saw one of the other Armed Forces guys just running. He barrelled over, just ran right over. The other guy just dropped. I looked back and just dived underneath and immediately called 911."

The National War Memorial stands in Confederation Square in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings are to the northwest.

Scott Walsh, who was working on Parliament Hill, said he saw a man running with a double-barrelled shotgun, wearing a scarf and blue jeans.

Police search cars and pedestrians as they leave Ottawa across the Alexandra Bridge into Gatineau, Que., near the Parliament Buildings during what is still being considered an active shooter situation in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2014.

Walsh said the man hopped over the stone fence that surrounds Parliament Hill, with his gun forcing someone out of a car. He then drove to the front doors of Parliament and fired at least two shots, Walsh said.

Some witnesses were taken to the city's police headquarters.

New Democrat MP Hélène Laverdière said she heard 20 to 30 shots inside Parliament, and hit the floor. She and fellow MPs Charlie Angus and Rosane Doré Lefebvre were later led out of the Centre Block to safety.

Doré Lefebvre said she was worried about getting her daughter from the daycare facility on Parliament Hill.
Attack on Ottawa: One Soldier Killed, One Suspect Dead
Map of shooting location in Ottawa.
JOSH WINGROVE, STEVEN CHASE, BILL CURRY AND JILL MAHONEY
OTTAWA AND TORONTO — The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, Oct. 22 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

The attack on Parliament Hill’s Centre Block and the National War Memorial has left one Canadian soldier and one male suspect dead.

Soldier shot at the National War Memorial has died
One suspect confirmed dead
Prime Minister safe and "not on Parliament Hill"
Downtown Ottawa and federal government buildings in lockdown

ON THE SCENE The scene inside: Gunfire breaks out on a busy caucus day

Several hours later, Ottawa Police and RCMP officers were still searching Parliament Hill and officials declined to say whether the unidentified gunman acted alone.

“We’re still in the process of an active operation right now. We’re treating this very seriously with the RCMP in identifying and clearing Parliament Hill to render it safe,” Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told a mid-afternoon media briefing.

Buildings in Ottawa’s downtown core remained under lockdown and police enforced a perimeter around Parliament Hill after the gunman fired on soldiers guarding Canada’s main war memorial and gunfire rang through the halls of Centre Block.

Asked if the attack had caught police off guard, Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the RCMP’s national division, said: “I think that from our reaction, it caught us by surprise.”

Still, he said “all available and necessary resources were activated and deployed immediately” and will remain in place as long as necessary.

Gunfire erupted at the National War Memorial around 9:52 a.m. (ET), then moved to Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. The Parliament Hill shooting was captured on this video by a Globe reporter. One Parliament Hill guard was shot in the leg and is recovering in hospital.

THE SHOOTING: FEDERAL BUILDINGS IN LOCKDOWN, POLICE ON ALERT

The outbreak of violence on Wednesday sent MPs into hiding and all federal government buildings into lockdown.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino in a caucus meeting when the gunfire began, Mr. Fantino told the Toronto Sun Wednesday. Fantino credits a sergeant-at-arms for taking down a gunman. "All the details are not in but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this," Fantino said.

Mr. Fantino also praised the RCMP for protecting the Prime Minister and other parliamentarians. "They were so professional," he told the Toronto Sun of the RCMP. "Incredible."

Mr. Harper will make a statement later today, said his communications director Jason MacDonald, who added that the Prime Minister “is safe and not on Parliament Hill” and was being briefed by security officials.

THE LOCKDOWN: OTTAWANS WARNED TO STAY CLEAR OF DOWNTOWN

RCMP are urging people in Ottawa not to head downtown, and for those in tall buildings around the downtown core to avoid windows and stay inside.

One source said the RCMP was said to be sending reinforcements from Toronto to assist in the investigation in the Ottawa shootings.

Parliament Hill staff were issued a security warning to stay away from doors and windows, lock their doors and, if doors would not lock, to barricade them. "Do not open a door under any circumstances," the security alert said.

Public building close to Parliament buildings have also established lockdowns, including the University of Ottawa, where personnel went door to door to tell people to stay put. Schools in the downtown core were also locked down. However, by early afternoon, students and faculty at the University of Ottawa were no longer fully respecting the lockdown and had started to leave campus.

The Rideau Centre mall, a major shopping centre a block from the war memorial, was also in lockdown after police initially reported shots being fired nearby. However, the police later said that no shots were fired near the mall.

THE WAR MEMORIAL: 'MOVE DOWN! THERE'S AN ACTIVE SHOOTER!'

Police officers at the cenotaph, which is cordoned with yellow tape and bordered by cruisers, ordered bystanders and journalists to move farther away from the crime scene, toward the Rideau Centre mall.

Tensions ran high as the officers yelled at journalists to get back around 10:30 a.m. (ET), with one officer shouting: " Move down! There's an active shooter! If you want to die, stay here. If you want to live, keep moving!”

Liberal MP John McKay said he was just taking off his jacket about to go into the caucus room when he heard "Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!" He assumed the sounds were construction noise, but then security guards rushed down the halls ordering everybody out.

Mr. McKay said the MPs followed security out the back door and then they "huddled out back by the monuments" for a while. "That building is the people's building ... I'd hate to think of us shutting it down because of both paranoia and legitimate fears."

A tourist from the Netherlands, Yan Legtenborg, told reporters that a man with a long rifle was "running like hell that way... to Parliament Hill."

"We didn't expect this in Canada," he said.

EYEWITNESS: 'IT SOUNDED LIKE A SHOTGUN'

One man watched the scene unfold from a third-floor office that faces the war memorial. “It was unreal,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified. “I heard the shot and looked out the window. . . The shooter came from the west side and aimed right at the young guy that was standing guard and shot him twice.  I think he missed with the first shot; it sounded like a shotgun.”

He saw the young soldier fall. No one returned fire. Other guards and police converged on the victim. The scene was “mayhem,” he said.

The dead soldier, whose name is being withheld pending notification of his family, was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a regiment of Reserve Forces based in Hamilton, according to a statement from Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina.

Major-General Christopher Coates, deputy commander continental at Canadian Joint Operations Command, extended condolences to the member’s family.

“Canadian armed forces bases and establishments are currently taking precautions appropriate to their environment to ensure the safety and security of personnel and infrastructure,” he said.

THE CHATEAU LAURIER: GERMAN DELEGATION SAW DRAMA UNFOLD

Carol Devine, owner of Devine Fine Jewellery on the hotel's main floor, says people are being told they can't leave. "It's really weird. I feel the same today as I did on Sept 11 [2001]," she said. "I was working that day here, there were people stuck here from the U.S. and security on Parliament Hill‎. It's the same kind of weird feeling."

Richard Teltschik is leading a delegation of German parliamentarians from the Christian Social Union of Bavaria on a visit to Ottawa, and left the Chateau Laurier as the Parliament Hill drama was unfolding.

“There was police coming from all sides, from all the streets they are running towards the Parliament,” he said in a phone call from the Museum of Canadian History, which is across the Ottawa River from the capital.

“We are all concerned and surprised that in quaint Canada, this kind of thing could happen,”  he said. “Everybody expects Canada to be remote from all the troubles of the world, peaceful and quiet and now we have this situation.”

REACTION: 'OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH THOSE INJURED'

Mr. Harper cancelled his planned trip to Toronto, where he was to present girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai with honorary Canadian citizenship on Wednesday afternoon.

Conservative MPs held a moment of silence after they were informed that the Canadian Armed Forces member passed away.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz postponed a planned 11.15 a.m. news conference in Ottawa, due to take place in the National Press theatre, across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill. The news conference was to follow Wednesday’s release of the central bank’s interest rate statement and monetary policy report.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson called Wednesday a “sad and tragic day for our city and our country.”

“I’m sure I speak for all residents of our city when I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of the individual who lost his life this morning while standing guard at the National War Memorial at the heart of downtown Ottawa.”

In Toronto, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she and the opposition leaders discussed suspending Question Period in light of the Ottawa shooting, but she says “we refuse to be silenced.”

White House and other U.S. government officials have been in “close touch” with their Canadian counterparts “to offer assistance” and have asked to arrange a phone call between President Barack Obama and Mr. Harper at the Prime Minister’s earliest convenience, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington.

The NHL game scheduled in Kanata between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs has been postponed.

With reports from Kathryn Blaze Carlson, Erin Anderssen, Shawn McCarthy, Colin Freeze, Sean Silcoff, Barrie McKenna, Ryan Macdonald, Evan Annett and The Canadian Press

Follow us on Twitter: Steven Chase @stevenchase, Bill Curry @curryb, Jill Mahoney @jillsmahoney, Josh Wingrove @josh_wingrove