More than 15 killed in “terrorist act” in Russia’s Dagestan

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Monday, 24th June 2024.

At least 15 police officers and an Orthodox priest were victims of yesterday’s terrorist attack against an Orthodox church and a synagogue in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, while six attackers were eliminated, Governor Sergey Melikov said.


The authorities specify that among the civilians killed in the attack there was also “Father Nikolaj, who served for more than 40 years” in the local parish. “Six armed men were killed; further operational search and investigative actions will continue until all participants of the sleeper cells, which were certainly prepared mostly from abroad, are discovered,” Melikov said. The situation after the attacks in Makhachkala and Derbent is now under the control of the authorities and law enforcement agencies, he added.


Russian state news agency TASS quoted anonymous law enforcement sources as saying, “the gunmen who carried out attacks in Makhachkala and Derbent are supporters of an international terrorist organisation,” without naming a specific organisation. Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, Georgia and Azerbaijan, has been a problem for Russian authorities for decades, with scores of police and civilians killed in clashes between Russia and militant Islamists.
However, a Dagestan lawmaker levelled accusations against Ukraine, the US and the West, claiming, “There is no doubt that these terrorist attacks are in one way or another connected with the intelligence services of Ukraine and NATO countries.”


‘Intense’ phase of Gaza war nearing end – Netanyahu


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that “intense” fighting against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is nearly over, more than eight months into the devastating war. “The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 14, without providing a clear timeline. “It doesn’t mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah.”


Israeli officials have described Rafah as the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip, and in early May troops entered the southern city, on the besieged territory’s border with Egypt, despite global alarm over the fate of Palestinian civilians sheltering there.


Netanyahu’s interview – his first with Israeli media since the war began with Hamas’s October 7 attack – was broadcast as his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant arrived in Washington for talks, on the Gaza war and surging cross-border tensions with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, in the latest diplomatic effort to maintain the relationship between the two countries.


On the ground in Gaza City, in the north of the Palestinian territory, Israeli bombardment continued on Sunday with medics and the civil defence agency in the Hamas-ruled territory reporting deadly strikes.
Netanyahu said that “after the end of the intense phase” in the Gaza Strip, Israel would “redeploy some forces to the north… primarily for defensive purposes”.


8 dead in Israeli raid on school used by UNRWA


Eight people died and several others were injured in an Israeli air strike that hit a school near the city of Gaza, used to distribute aid, according to international media quoting Palestinian sources. The raid apparently hit part of an institute managed by the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the site had been used by UNRWA but was now being used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, adding that it had taken precautionary measures before the bombing to reduce the risk of damage to civilians. UNRWA says it is examining the details of the reported attack before providing further information.


IDF ‘violated protocol’ after Palestinian strapped to military jeep


The Israeli military said its forces “violated protocol” after a wounded Palestinian man was strapped to the front of a Jeep during an arrest raid in the West Bank. A video, posted to X, shows the man being driven away on the hood of the vehicle in the city of Jenin on Saturday.


The IDF said that man had been ‘wounded’ in an ‘exchange of fire’ and was eventually transferred to medics for treatment. Violence in the West Bank has escalated since the war in Gaza began.


The Israeli military said the “conduct of the forces in the video of the incident does not conform” to values of the IDF of and that events will be “investigated and dealt with”.


Over 1,300 pilgrims died during Hajj, Saudi authorities say


Over 1,300 pilgrims died while performing Hajj this year, Saudi Health Minister Fahad bin Abdurrahman al-Jalajel said on Sunday. In statements carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA, Jalajel said that 83 per cent of those who died were not authorised to perform the ritual. “[They] walked long distances under the sunlight, with no adequate shelter or rest,” Jalajel described the unregistered pilgrims. “They included a number of elderly and chronically sick.”


The Saudi minister defended the Saudi organisation of this Hajj season, which has come under increased scrutiny due to the mounting death toll. But he said the management of the pilgrimage was “successful”, adding that Saudi health authorities “provided more than 465,000 specialised treatment services, including 141,000 services to those who didn’t obtain official authorisation to perform hajj”.


French feminists march against far right with days before vote


Thousands of people turned out in France yesterday for feminist demonstrations against the far right, which is expected to come out on top in June 30 snap elections, as parties sought to shore up support with days to go.


With the far-right National Rally (RN) polling at around 35 per cent, “we have to remind people that they’re the ones who talked about ‘comfort abortions’, who are always attacking family planning services,” said Morgane Legras, a nuclear engineer and feminist activist taking part in the Paris march.


There were between 13,000 (police estimate) and 75,000 (organisers’ estimate) people at Sunday’s demonstration.
Protesters, many wearing violet, marched from the Place de la Republique square in central Paris to Place de la Nation in the east, bearing signs with messages such as “Push back the far right, not our rights”.


Over 10,000 Poles participate in Warsaw Pride parade


Parades have been taking place in Poland during Pride month as organisers call for LGBTQ rights to be expanded in the largely conservative and mostly Catholic country.


Pride parades in Poland have traditionally been more of a protest event than an opportunity to party, as they are in some of Europe’s more LGBTQ-friendly cities. But last week, a march in Warsaw drew over 20,000 people including two government ministers for the first time – Deputy Prime Minister Krzysztof Gawkowski and Equality Minister Katarzyna Kotula, who are both from The Left party.


According to Brussels-based NGO, Rainbow Map, Poland this year was ranked as the worst country in the European Union for the LGBTQ community for the fifth consecutive year. The index, which places Malta first, takes into account the legal, political and social environment for LGBTQ people in each country in Europe. Currently, Poland doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage and same-sex couples are banned from adopting children as many other European countries do. Poland’s new government led by Donald Tusk has promised to improve LGBTQ rights, although it has yet to pass any legislation.


Hollywood productions stalled as studios lack funds


After the strikes of screenwriters and actors, which blocked productions for six months in 2023, Hollywood has recorded the most dramatic contraction of the last 30 years.


Producer Michele Greco attempts an explanation: “Shooting in Hollywood is now a drain: between the wages of the crew and the rent of materials, machinery, locations and theatres, a day of filming in LA costs almost double that in Georgia”, says this 55-year-old Roman, who has been based in Los Angeles for two decades.


“California offers 330 million dollars a year in tax credits: New York offers 700 and Georgia has no limit. Not to mention foreign countries, from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, from Hungary to Canada, which offer advantageous tax incentives and much lower salaries for crews.”


“After months of tiredness, I started a series produced by a Major,” says relieved Susie Mancini, 39 years old, who arrived from Milan in 2007 and today is a set designer with an Emmy nomination in her pocket. “I find myself working with people who have done a dozen of Oscar-winning films, who have been without a job for months and have to accept reduced pay or duties’’.


“The studios have run out of money, they have to cut and cut ,” says Greco, adding, “They took advantage of the strike to terminate some onerous contracts without penalty and close unprofitable projects. If before they produced 10, now they produce five”.


In 2024, 90 films will be released, compared to 100 in 2023. The series produced will be around 300, compared to 481 in 2023 and 633 in 2022 (data from Ampere Analysis). Also contributing to the red figures are the flight of spectators from cinemas: according to forecasts, takings in 2024 in North America will be equal to 8 billion dollars, 10 per cent less on 2023 and 30 p-er cent on 2019 – and the decline in subscriptions to platforms after the peak of the lockdown.
“Everything has changed. There is no going back. The majors now have to please the stock market more than produce good cinema,”, says Walter Volpatto, from Turin, born in 1971, who has been in Hollywood for 20 years. He has colour-corrected films such as ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Green Book’ and, recently, Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’.


North Macedonia has new right-wing government


North Macedonia’s parliament has approved a new coalition government led by Hristijan Mickoski’s right-wing nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party. A total 77 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of the new government; 22 voted against. The remaining 21 lawmakers were absent for the vote.


Including the 46-year-old Mickoski as prime minister, there will be 24 ministers in the government, five of whom will be deputy prime ministers. Sixteen of the cabinet members are from the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition Your Macedonia, six from the coalition Vredi block of Albanian opposition parties, and two from the political party Znam.
Mickoski’s party received 43 per cent of the vote on May 9, winning 58 seats – three short of a governing majority – and driving out the Social Democrats after seven years in power. Mickoski then struck a deal to form a government with the ethnic Albanian parties and the left-wing nationalist Znam party, which together have 20 seats.
In his closing remarks before the vote, Mickoski told the parliament that the citizens of North Macedonia “are fed up with bickering” and “need work, dedication, accountability, and concrete projects.”


Canada prisoners relocated as hundreds flee wildfires


Wildfires in eastern Canada forced the evacuation of hundreds of people, including 225 inmates from a maximum security prison, officials said yesterday.


The federal penitentiary in Port-Cartier, about 500 kilometres north of Quebec City, was ordered evacuated along with about 1,000 local residents over the weekend, and 750 workers at a hydroelectric dam in Labrador further north.


In a statement, correctional services commissioner Anne Kelly said the prison was closed and inmates “were successfully moved from the affected area to other secure federal correctional facilities”. The prison has housed some of the nation’s most notorious criminals including several serial killers.


All flights from Manchester Airport terminals cancelled after power cut


All flights from two Manchester Airport terminals were cancelled on Sunday after a “major power cut” which caused huge queues and disruption to baggage processing. The cancellations amounted to a quarter of the total flights from the airport.


The outage, which hit systems in the early hours of Sunday, meant that by lunchtime 66 outbound flights (25 per cent of all departures) and 50 inbound journey (18 per cent of all arrivals) were axed.


In a social media post on Sunday, the airport said no flights would be departing from Terminals 1 and 2 “until further notice” following the outage.


Scotland crash our of UEFA EURO 2024


Switzerland are through to the last 16 after drawing with Germany, while an ultra-late Hungary goal sends Scotland home.


Scotland crashed out of Euro 2024 in the most heart-wrenching fashion as Kevin Csoboth’s 100th-minute winner earned Hungary a stunning late 1-0 victory. BBC Sport reports that the Scots, who could still have held faint hopes of the last 16 with a draw, were stung on the counter-attack to spark bedlam in the Stuttgart Arena. It means Steve Clarke’s side, who didn’t register a shot on target themselves until injury time, finish on one point and once again fail to make it out of a group at a major tournament. Hungary, who lost Barnabas Varga to a sickening injury, finish Group A in third and still have a chance of going through as one of the four best third-placed teams.


Hungary striker Barnabas Varga is “stable” in hospital after being carried off on a stretcher following a mid-air clash with Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn in Sunday night’s Euro 2024 match. Varga sustained a fractured cheek bone and will have an operation, Hungary manager Marco Rossi told BBC Sport.


Substitute Niclas Fullkrug scored a late equaliser for Germany as they rescued a 1-1 draw with Switzerland to top Group A. The Swiss thought they were going through to the last 16 as group winners after an early goal from Dan Ndoye until Fullkrug headed in the equaliser. There was an outburst of celebration from home supporters behind the goal as Germany maintained their unbeaten start to Euro 2024.


Today: Defending champions Italy face Croatia in Leipzig this evening (9pm) with both sides looking to avoid an early exit from Euro 2024. With three points in Group B, the Italians are best placed to reach the last 16. Spain are already through as group winners and Italy will join them as runners-up if they avoid defeat to Croatia. They will be heading home early if they lose and Albania manage to stun Spain in the other game. Croatia, meanwhile, will finish second if they beat Italy and Albania fail to defeat Spain. Draw and the Croatians would be left sweating on other results to be one of four best third-placed teams.


Copa America (Group C): USA v Bolivia 2-0; Uruguay v Panama 2-0.

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