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February 1, 2015

Fire ravages large academic library in Moscow

Fire ravages large academic library in Moscow

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

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  • 1 February 2015: Fire ravages large academic library in Moscow
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Firefighters in front of the partially destroyed building.
Image: Sergey Leschina.

A fire Friday night and Saturday morning caused major damage to the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences in Moscow, Russia. It is among the nation’s largest academic libraries.

The fire began at 10p.m. local time on the third floor, damaging much of one wing. Russian Academy of Sciences boss Vladimir Fortov called it “a great loss to science”. He said around 15% of the library’s 14.2 million books and other documents are likely damaged.

Russia Today said 147 personnel battled the blaze with 38 vehicles. The emergency ministry puts the number of firefighters at over 200. The blaze left no injuries and was contained by around midnight.

A close-up of the damaged roof as firefighting work continues
Image: Sergey Leschina.

Thought to have escaped the fire are the library’s collection of rare and ancient Slavic manuscripts. Other documents housed include Russia’s largest repository of articles from the United Nations and UNESCO in particular, and UN precursor the League of Nations. Large numbers of other documents in old and modern languages from across Asia and Europe are on-site, as are reports from national legislatures. Parliamentary documents held include Italian documents from 1897, US documents from 1789, and UK documents from 1803.

Founded in 1918 and boasting 49,000 readers served by 330 staff, the library has lost around 2,000 square metres. The roof has partially collapsed. Arson has been ruled out with an official telling Ria Novosti an electrical fault is considered likely.



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  • Commons-logo.svg Category:Fire in the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of Russian Academy of Sciences (31 January 2015)

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February 15, 2013

Teenager arrested over Dingwall, Scotland hostel fire

Teenager arrested over Dingwall, Scotland hostel fire

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Friday, February 15, 2013

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In the Highlands of Scotland, the Northern Constabulary have arrested a 17-year-old male in relation to a fire at a hostel, reports said yesterday.

Eight fire vehicles with 45 fire workers were alerted to a fire at the Royal Hotel in the town of Dingwall at approximately 0300 UTC Monday. Numerous people had to be evacuated from the burning building.

The Northern Constabulary launched a joint investigation with the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service shortly after the fire. Police are expected to provide the procurator fiscal with a report on the incident.

The Royal Hotel, now a hostel for homeless persons, was formerly a hotel.



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March 13, 2012

Imam dead in Shia mosque attack in Belgium

Imam dead in Shia mosque attack in Belgium

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The area around Anderlecht (marked in red) is home to a large number of Muslim immigrants

An imam in the Belgian municipality of Anderlecht, near the capital, Brussels, has died following a suspected arson attack at a Shia mosque.

It is thought the mosque was attacked by a man wielding an axe, petrol and Molotov cocktails on Monday evening. The imam, in his mid-forties, reportedly died of smoke inhalation while trying to put out the resulting blaze. Another person was injured during the attack.

Police spokeswoman Marie Verbeck confirmed the death, and said a suspect has been arrested in connection with the fire. Police are not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident.

Belgium’s interior minister Joëlle Milquet said: “This person went in [to the mosque] hurling statements linked to the Syrian conflict. It appears to be a problem between Sunnis and Shias … Belgium will not tolerate this type of act and the importing of this type of conflict on its territory”.

She stressed that details on the motive for the crime are unclear. The area around Anderlecht is home to a large number of Muslim immigrants. The last imam to have been killed in an attack in Belgium’s capital was Saudi Abdullah Muhammad al Ahdal, who was shot in 1989.



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January 6, 2012

New York firebomb suspect arraigned

New York firebomb suspect arraigned – Wikinews, the free news source

New York firebomb suspect arraigned

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Friday, January 6, 2012

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File:Frappucino.jpg

A bottle of Frappuccino similar to the bottles used for the Molotov cocktail.
Image: RandomGuy666.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

A man accused of 5 arsons in New York State, United States was arraigned at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan yesterday. 40 year-old Ray Lazier Lengend is facing eighteen charges relating to four fires in Queens and one attempted fire in Nassau County. The alleged motive behind the attacks was to kill “as many Muslims and Arabs as possible”. He is currently being held at Bellevue for psychiatric evaluation.

On January 1, officials said, Lengend used Molotov cocktails made with pre-made Starbucks Frappuccino bottles. He used a stolen Buick Regal to carry out the attacks. The fires took place at a 179th Street deli, the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, a Hindu temple, and a private home. He also tried to incinerate his brother-in-law’s home in Elmont. Besides the religious motive, he attacked the deli because they kicked him out for shoplifting milk and Frappuccino. No one was hurt in any of the attacks. They said Lengend claims he also set fire to a Jeep and two other homes.

Police say that he had intended to attack the Islamic center first, but was deterred by nearby officer presence. Originally, he wanted to go to a balcony and throw the bombs at people at the Islamic center. He also thought that the private home he damaged in Queens was a drug den. “He had a variety of motives that he stated. He’s all over the lot and obviously his mental capacity is being examined now.” said, Raymond Kelly, New York City Police Commissioner.

Lengend’s brother-in-law, 73 year-old Bejai Rai, says that Lengend was disturbed. In a comment to the Daily News, Rai said, “He had a vendetta against us. He tried to kill my wife, my two sons and my sister. I’m glad they got him otherwise he’d be back to firebomb us again.”



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January 4, 2012

Suspect arrested in Los Angeles arson rampage case

Suspect arrested in Los Angeles arson rampage case

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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In the Los Angeles, US arson spree, where more than 50 attacks occurred in four days, local police arrested a German national Monday. The suspect, reportedly 24-year-old Harry Burkhart, was stopped in the vicinity of West Hollywood due to the appearance of his van, matching a description law enforcement authorities issued earlier.

The city saw numerous arson attacks start on December 30, with 17 vehicles and structures set alight. Many of the incidents took place in driveways and carports. In one case, a former home of The Doors late lead singer Jim Morrison was damaged. Despite increased attention by the police force and residents, eleven of the fires occurred in under two hours up until 2:50am (local time) on Monday.

Law enforcement revealed that, only hours before these fires, the State Department alerted the Los Angeles police (LAPD) about Harry Burkhart, believed to be connected to arson attacks in Germany. Acting on that information, police were searching for a blue Dodge minivan. Just before 3am that morning, reserve sheriff deputy Shervin Lalezary — a real-estate lawyer who volunteers with the LAPD for $1 a year — spotted Burkhart’s vehicle and pulled him over. He later recounted, his approach to the van was covered by other officers. A search of the car produced material that could be used for arson, according to various media reports fire sticks and charcoal briquettes.

Police said the suspect was Harry Burkhart, a German national from Frankfurt, with Chechnyan travel papers. Canadian media reports a minivan, ostensibly his, has licence plates from British Columbia and there is a traffic offence record for a Harry Burkhart in Vancouver. He had been in the US for several years, and lived in an apartment on Sunset Boulevard. In a court hearing concerning his mother’s immigration problems, according to police, Burkhart had ranted against the United States.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck voiced optimism about the case: “I feel very good that we’ve got the right guy. He had the right stuff in his van and I am confident in the arrest.” Officials held a press meeting Monday evening about the developments.



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March 16, 2011

Florida prisons ban inmate smoking

Florida prisons ban inmate smoking – Wikinews, the free news source

Florida prisons ban inmate smoking

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cigarettes

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss announced on Monday that Florida’s prisons will become tobacco-free within six months in order to cut health-care costs and make prisons safer. Buss stated that the cost to Florida taxpayers for treating inmates for tobacco-related illnesses such as cancer and emphysema neared US$9 million last year alone.

Inmates will be offered help in quitting smoking, possibly including the use of nicotine patches. Gretl Plessinger, Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said that the department is working with the prison canteen vendors to make the patches available for purchase through the canteens. Last year inmates spent $19 million on tobacco products. Although the prison does make money from tobacco sales, Plessinger said, she noted that other states have not lost revenue by banning tobacco. “Inmates spend the money they have on other products like hard candy,” she said.

Plessinger said that banning smoking will also make prisons safer: “It will reduce the risk of arson. And lighters can be used to melt plastic objects like toothbrushes into shanks.”

Beginning on Sept. 30, cigarettes will be considered contraband, and prisoners caught smoking will face disciplinary proceedings with possible loss of privileges such as visitation rights and loss of gain time.

U.S. Federal prisons already ban smoking as do more than half of U.S. state prisons. Smoking is also prohibited in Florida’s public buildings. For Florida prison employees, designated smoking areas will be provided outside the prison walls.


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September 6, 2010

Six dead in arson attack in Bridgetown, Barbados

Six dead in arson attack in Bridgetown, Barbados

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Violent crime is a rare occasion in Barbados

Six people have died after a clothing store was set on fire during an armed robbery in Bridgetown, Barbados. Two men entered Campus Trendz Clothing Store wielding machetes and demanded money. The pair then set a fire and fled the scene.

Three employees and three customers headed to the back of the store to try and escape the blaze but failed to exit the store. All of the victims were female and one is reported to have been a toddler.

A witness described the events saying that he was stood on the pavement outside of the store when he saw a man run across the pavement.

The witness said, “Then a second fellah with something like a scarf over his face ran behind him and then I heard this big explosion. Within minutes I saw this big gush of smoke and the whole of the store was on fire. I have never seen anything like that.”

Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur has called for “stiff penalties” for those responsible for the attack. He said “When somebody could throw a cocktail in a building where other Barbadians are, we have to call it what it is, modern terrorism and they must face the full measure and full weight [of the law].” He has also called for a national day of mourning for the victims.



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August 7, 2010

Revenge killings follow shooting of Karachi politician

Revenge killings follow shooting of Karachi politician

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Businesses remained closed for a second day on Wednesday in the Pakistani financial capital of Karachi, to mourn Raza Haider, a leading politician of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), assassinated on Monday. Nineteen people were killed on Tuesday in revenge killings, bringing the death toll to 49 over two days. Twenty-five shops and a number of vehicles including trucks and buses were burned in a series of arson attacks across the city.

Haider was gunned down while attending a funeral near the centre of the city. An officer at the Nazimabad police station said “[t]he number of attackers and the mode of their transport are not clear, but initial investigations suggest that there were more than two people who came on a motorcycle and they were probably backed by armed men in a car. They first shot at the legislator’s guard Khalid Khan and then entered the mosque and fired at Mr Haider who was in the ablution room.”

Following the first night of revenge attacks and arson the MQM accused its main political rival, the Awami National Party (ANP), of supporting the Islamist militants suspected of the assassination. The MQM is a coalition partner with the ANP in the national government and is known as a party that holds great potential for mass mobilization in the province of Sindh.

The Associated Press (AP) said that the MQM’s accusation “appeared to reflect the complex and vicious political and ethnic fault lines that crisscross Karachi.”

The AP also said that Sharfuddin Memon, the head of the Citizen’s Police Liason Committee had speculated that Haider’s killing may be related to a government operation against “land mafias”, who illegally occupy commercially valuable land. According to the AP’s report it is alleged that some of these mafias have the backing of political parties.

According to human rights organizations there have been more than 300 political killings in Karachi this year.

By Tuesday evening the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre had received 17 dead bodies and 55 injured. The head of the hospital, Dr Seemi Jamali, said that they had transfused 200 blood units to victims of targeted violence and that 31 gunshot victims had been operated upon that day.

This week’s wave of violence and attacks began with the assassination of Raza Haider, but due to the nature of Karachi politics the exact motive behind Haider’s murder is unclear. The Associated Press commented that the city has long been plagued by political violence between supporters of rival parties “that draw votes from different ethnic groups in the city of 16 million people.” The publication said this muddied the reasons for the bloodshed.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister was quoted by media as saying Islamist militants were likely suspects. He said that Haider had been on the extremist hit list. The BBC reported that they had been told by security officials in Karachi that there is evidence to suggest the assassination was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistan’s deadliest militant group.

The BBC News website also reported that senior MQM leader Babar Ghauri had said: “Every MQM activist will now be looking to pay back the people involved in this heinous act”.

Raza Haider was laid to rest on Tuesday at the Martyr’s Graveyard in Azizabad, northern Karachi. Hundreds of MQM members and supporters attended to pay their final respects to Haider and to his guard Khalid Khan, also killed in the shooting. The funeral took place under tight security, and with activists raising slogans against the violence that has gripped the city.


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March 18, 2010

Fire at tombs in Uganda result in clashes between protestors and police

Fire at tombs in Uganda result in clashes between protestors and police

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

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At least two people in Uganda were killed on Wednesday, after clashes between police and protestors at a royal mausoleum.

The incident occurred at Kasubi, near the Ugandan capital of Kampala, when protestors attempted to stop the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni from visiting the tomb site, which was on fire. They set up a barricade and booed him, blocking his motorcade. The fire had destroyed a large portion of the tombs, which are as much as 128 years old. They are revered by the Buganda tribe, the largest in Uganda.

There are accusations that the blaze was started intentionally. Kampala-based journalist Malcolm Webb commented about the incident to Al Jazeera. “[T]he tombs of their kings […] was burnt to the ground. They suspect it was arson. I’ve seen four people who were injured […] But the crowd has been largely chased away.”

The president pledged that he would look into the accusations of arson, although he commented that the demonstrators at the “scene of the crime” might have interfered, making an investigation more difficult. “I am suspicious. This could be arson. The problem is the place has been tampered with. […] [B]ut we are going to investigate and get to the cause,” Musveni told the mausoleum caretakers.

Judith Nabakooba, a spokesman for Ugandan security forces, told Agence France-Presse that “[t]here was a group that confronted security at the scene before the arrival of the president. They were violent, when they confronted us we shot in the air to disperse them.”

A Buganda official, Medard Ssegona Lubega, remarked about the blaze to the BBC Network Africa, saying: “There are many men of our fallen kings lie in this house, which is now down to ashes,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa It is something that we have built and kept and maintained for our children and grandchildren and many generations unborn.”

Buganda is one of the country’s four ancient kingdoms; the United Nations’ cultural organisation, UNESCO, designated it as a world heritage site. It has been a popular tourist site, and its mausoleum contains the remains of four of Buganda’s former kings, the last of which was buried in 1971.



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March 8, 2010

Bronx, New York church destroyed in suspicious blaze

Bronx, New York church destroyed in suspicious blaze

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Monday, March 8, 2010

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Second-alarm flames engulfed a Bronx, New York church, St Nicholas of Tolentine, just before noon on Friday, forcing its pastor and seven worshippers into the streets.

The blaze began in a confessional-converted-storage room near the vestibule of the church. “I rushed over and smoke was billowing out,” said Father Joseph Girone. Girone rushed parishioners through the church rectory door as the entrance had been blocked.

Over 100 firefighters fought the blaze, and several reported minor injuries due to ceiling collapse.

Fire Department (FDNY) officials immediately suspected arson. “The fire accelerated rapidly [and] it was a heavy fire that didn’t have the normal flow of a fire”, said FDNY Deputy Chief Kevin Scanlon. Investigators are determining whether the fire is related to a series of church burnings that have been occurring across the borough.

Parishioners are distraught by the destruction of their beloved church. Father Joseph Tran said, “The whole vestibule is damaged. The ceiling, the walls and the doors”. Isabel Gonzales, a regular attendant for 28 years, said, “I feel sorry and I want to cry because this has been my home away from home for a long time”. A church official reported that it was too early to determine construction lengths or repair costs.

Devoted worshippers promised that they would hold a “Stations of the Cross” gathering outside on Friday night.



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