In one of the violent incidents early on New Year's Day, a woman was shot at a nightclub in Hackney

London violence: Two dead, four hurt in knife and gun attacks

Two people have been stabbed to death and four others hurt in separate attacks in the early hours of the morning in London.

A man died after being stabbed outside a private party in Park Lane, in the West End, at about 05:30 GMT.

Two men, aged 37 and 29, and a woman, aged 29, were also stabbed.

About an hour earlier, a woman was fatally stabbed in Southwark and at around the same time awoman was shot at a nightclub in Hackney .

‘Security staff’

Police said the man who died at the Park Lane party appeared to be a member of security staff, as were the other two men who were hurt.

The men and the woman were treated at the scene before being taken to hospital. They are not thought to have life-threatening injuries.

Detectives have launched a murder investigation and are in the process of informing the man’s next-of-kin. A post-mortem examination is due to be held later.

Det Ch Insp Andy Partridge said: “The incident took place outside a venue that was hosting a private party.

“It appears the deceased and the two injured males were working as security staff for the party, they were attacked by a group of males who were outside trying to enter the venue.

“The female was also attacked as she assisted the security staff in closing the front door of the premises.”

In the Southwark attack, police were called by paramedics to an address in John Ruskin Street, Camberwell, at 04:20.

A woman, aged in her early 30s, was found with stab wounds and, despite the efforts of paramedics to save her, she was pronounced dead at 04:50.

She has not been formally identified and her next-of-kin have not yet been informed.

A man, 34, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. He has been taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody.

Magnitogorsk: Baby found alive after block of flats explosion

Magnitogorsk: Russian rescuers pull baby from rubble

Russian rescuers in the city of Magnitogorsk have pulled an 11-month-old baby from the rubble of a block of flats hit by an explosion on Monday.

The boy, named Ivan, has serious frostbite, a head injury and leg fractures, and will be sent for treatment in Moscow.

He is said to be in a “very serious” condition.

Ivan was partially clothed when found, in a city where the daytime temperature is around -17C.

The Russian emergencies ministry said the baby’s mother had also survived and had arrived at the hospital to visit her son.

Chelyabinsk regional governor Boris Dubrovsky reportedly said on his Telegram channel that rescuers “heard crying”.

Eight bodies have been found so far in the ruins of the apartment building, amid fears the death toll will rise.

Officials in the Urals region city blamed a gas leak for the blast. Around 36 people are still missing.

Rescuers search for survivors after a gas explosion in a Russian apartment block

Rescuers search for survivors after a gas explosion in a Russian apartment block

Authorities earlier announced they had halted their search for survivors until the unstable building could be secured.

“It’s impossible to continue working in such conditions,” emergencies ministry head Yevgeny Zinichev reportedly said, citing a “real threat of part of the building collapsing”.

It will take about 24 hours to secure the building, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reported at around 13:00 local time (08:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

Authorities are in a race against time to find survivors, with temperatures expected to fall further overnight.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairing a meeting in Magnitogorsk after an explosion in a block of flats
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the city to assess the situation

The building was home to 120 people, and 48 flats collapsed in the blast.

“I woke up and felt myself falling,” one witness told Russian television, according to news agency AFP. “The walls were gone. My mother was screaming and my son had been buried.”

Another witness spoke of a “wave of fire” which followed the explosion.

Russia’s Vesti news channel says more than 50 of the block’s residents have been accounted for, including the victims.

Devastated block of flats in Magnitogorsk, 31 Dec 18
The dangerously unstable building must be secured before the rescue can continue
Devastated block of flats in Magnitogorsk, 31 Dec 18
There are more flats on either side of the collapsed block

The blast, at 06:02 local time (01:02 GMT) is thought to have ripped through the first floor, which houses some offices, and the seven storeys above then collapsed. Nearby flats were also damaged.

A criminal investigation has been opened into the disaster.

The city of Magnitogorsk is about 1,695km (1,053 miles) east of Moscow.

Russia Magnitogorsk map

A helicopter was eventually called in to rescue the trapped revellers

French revellers spend New Year’s Eve trapped on fair ride

It’s not the best way to spend New Year’s Eve, but it’s certainly an unforgettable one.

Eight French people have been rescued by helicopter after becoming trapped for eight hours atop a fair ride.

The revellers, one as young as 13, climbed aboard the 52-metre (171ft) BomberMaxxx in the Breton city of Rennes for a brief ride above the city.

But a new part broke on the attraction, and the firefighters’ ladders were too short to rescue the trapped group.

“We saw sparks, heard a big metal noise and feared the worst,” one woman told AFP news agency.

The owner of the ride, Alexandre Thiel, said the broken part blocked it and while there was no danger to those on board, “the only problem was getting them down”.

After several attempts to reach them from the ground, a helicopter arrived and one by one they were winched to safety.

The first was rescued just before midnight, with the last person reaching the ground at about 06:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

“I never thought I’d get out. It was very traumatic,” 23-year-old Antoine said. “It was long, it was cold and it was frightening.”

“Next year, I’m staying at home with my champagne and biscuits,” another man said.

Germany adopts third gender identity for intersex people

Intersex people in Germany can now legally identify themselves as a third gender, under a new law adopted in December.

People who do not fit the biological definition of male or female can now choose the category “diverse” on official documents.

Those choosing the option will need a doctor’s certificate to register.

Intersex people are born with both male and female sex characteristics, which can appear at birth or later in life.

Other countries have approved laws in recent years to help recognise intersex people.

Austria’s constitutional court made a similar ruling to Germany’s in June, while Australia, New Zealand, Malta, India and Canada have all passed measures to redress issues facing intersex citizens.

The UN says up to 1.7% of the world’s population are born with intersex traits – about the same number of people with red hair.

This is separate from a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

But many face stigma, legal discrimination or even forced surgery because of these characteristics.

Germany adopts third gender identity for intersex people
Jeanette was 50 when she discovered the truth about her own body

Germany previously allowed intersex people to opt out of choosing either male or female as a gender in 2013.

But in 2017 the country’s top court ruled it was discrimination to deny people a gender , after a person registered as female had a chromosome test confirming they were neither sex.

Germany’s parliament approved the law change last month, to come into effect on 1 January.

BBC Europe regional editor Danny Aeberhard says some people believe it is a step too far, while gender activists think the need for a doctor’s certificate will make proof harder for intersex people without physical characteristics.

Presentational grey line

Lawyers, senators kick, as police refuse to vacate Melaye’s house

The siege by the  police  to  the Abuja residence of Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, entered its fourth day, yesterday, with the police showing no sign of vacating the home. It will be recalled that the Police had already disconnected electricity and water to the premises on 11 Sangha Street, Off Mississippi, Maitama, Abuja.

Melaye, who has had running battle with the police,  it was gathered, had promised to report to the police this week.

He had said: “Presently I’m outside Abuja. I’m a Senator of the Federal Republic of Abuja, I cannot run away. I will make myself available as soon as I’m back to town next week (this week). I am not a criminal, I have not done anything wrong.”

The police said Melaye is wanted for a case of criminal conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide committed on July 19, 2018.

Meanwhile, some lawyers and senators have kicked against the continued siege to Melaye’s home, even as the police insisted on its actions, saying “We will not retreat until Sen. Dino Melaye surrenders himself for arrest and investigation.”

Mr Norrison Quakers, SAN, said: “It is indeed unconstitutional and beyond international standard of law enforcement and in violation of the administration of criminal justice act, 2015.  I think the Senator should seek redress in court. We are not in a police state but in a constitutional democracy.”

Another  lawyer, Mr Israel Mbaebie said, “What is happening to Dino is a clear extension of what has been the sad hallmark of the excesses of this present government. It is sad. It is demeaning to all Nigerians that we are witnessing what we have never witnessed not even user the military junta years of Abacha. To imagine that we are in a democracy so called makes it all even more bizarre if not brazen.”

Some Senators who took a swipe at the Police over the invasion of Melaye’s, describe the action as barbaric and unacceptable.

Speaking with Vanguard yesterday, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East),  condemned the action of the police in very strong terms, saying that this is democracy and must not be truncated in any form.

Senator Anyanwu, who noted that the country was gradually becoming a police state, said: “ Nigeria is turning into a Police State. We believe that our democracy must be guided. Taking over the residence of Senator Dino Melaye is a sad development. The Police must as a matter of urgency, vacant the police.”

Also speaking with Vanguard, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara South) who condemned the action, described it torso witch hunt and political, adding that Senator Melaye was at the National Assembly prior to the holiday and the Police never came for him.

He however, asked the Police to stop playing politics with everything, urging them to vacate the residence with immediate effect.

Senate President Bukola Saraki had earlier faulted the move, arguing that the timing of the action by the police and the claim that Senator Melaye had been invited were not true.

“The general belief now is that the Police action against Senator @dino_melaye is aimed at keeping him out of circulation so that he would not participate in the general elections in February 2019,” Saraki tweeted.

He added, “Though the police in their statement claim that there was a request to the Clerk of the National Assembly, CNA, inviting Senator Melaye to report to the police, my enquiry from the CNA showed that he had no such letter.”

Meanwhile, the police in a statement, by Jimoh Moshood, Force Public Relations Officer yesterday, maintained their ground, saying “Senator Melaye is wanted by the Police for a case of Criminal Conspiracy and Attempted Culpable Homicide, committed on July 19, 2018, when Senator Melaye and his armed thugs attacked Police personnel; shot and wounded Sgt. Danjuma Saliu, attached to 37 Police Mobile Force (PMF) on stop and search duty along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State.

“Police operatives with a duly obtained warrant of arrest deployed to arrest Senator Melaye in his residence in Abuja will not retreat until Senator Melaye surrenders himself for arrest and investigation.

“It is on record that the Police investigators submitted a Letter of Invitation July 23, 2018, by the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State Police Command addressed to the Clerk, National Assembly, Abuja, inviting Senator Melaye to report on July 26, 2018 at 1100Hrs at the Kogi State Police Command, CIID, Lokoja to answer to a case of criminal conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide against him under investigation in the Kogi State Police Command.

“The claim by the Senate President in the media that the Police did not submit a letter of invitation to the Clerk of the National Assembly is therefore, incorrect as can be seen on attached letter with acknowledgment stamp of the Clerk, National Assembly, Abuja “July 24.”  Despite this, Senator Dino bluntly refused to report himself to the Police till date.

“For avoidance of doubt, attached to this statement are the copies of pictures of the shot Police Officer, Sgt. Saliu, the Police Invitation letter addressed to the Clerk of National Assembly, Abuja and the medical report from the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Kogi State, confirming the admission of Sgt. Saliu into the hospital for treatment of the gunshot injury he sustained from the attack by Senator Melaye and his armed thugs while on stop and search duty along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State on July 19, 2018.

“The Police Officer, Sgt. Saliu, is yet to recover from the gunshot injury he sustained during the attack and still under intensive medical care in the hospital.

“The force will ensure a thorough investigation into this matter while making sure that the rule of law prevails and that no suspect no matter how highly placed, involved in any criminal matter escape justice.

“We will not retreat until Sen. Melaye surrenders himself for arrest and investigation,” he said.

A male student is in critical condition after the incident

Van ploughs into Tokyo pedestrians headed for New Year’s prayers

A small van has ploughed into pedestrians celebrating the new year on one of Tokyo’s most famous streets.

The man driving the car fled the scene but was later arrested by police for attempted murder.

Nine people were injured, one seriously, by the attacker who struck in the Harajuku fashion district shortly after midnight.

The street, which was sealed off to traffic, was packed with people heading to a shrine for New Year’s prayers.

The 21-year-old driver of the van was identified as Kazuhiro Kusakabe.

Police told broadcaster NHK that he initially told them he had conducted a terrorist act, but then later claimed it was related to executions. It was not clear if he was referring to a specific execution or capital punishment in general.

Kyodo news agency cites investigative sources saying a tank of kerosene had been found in his car and that he had allegedly planned to burn down the vehicle.

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Takeshita Street in Shibuya ward is a popular shopping area known for its quirky fashion and youth culture. It also attracts international tourists in large numbers.

NHK footage showed the van with a smashed front and paramedics carrying the injured on stretchers into ambulances.

Eight people were hit by the car with one of them, a male student in critical condition in hospital.

A ninth person was assaulted by the driver after he got out of the vehicle.

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