American Press: Your Best News And Advertising Source - World http://www.americanpress.com/ American Press: The Only Local Daily Newspaper In Southwest Louisiana. en-US Copyright (c) March, 2017 American Press. All rights reserved <![CDATA[Wave of corruption protests sweeps Russia; Navalny arrested]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170326-Russia-Protests By Howard Amos and Jim Heintz / Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Thousands of people crowded into Moscow's Pushkin Square on Sunday for an unsanctioned protest against the Russian government, part of a wave of demonstrations taking place throughout the country.

Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is leading the opposition to President Vladimir Putin, was arrested while walking from a nearby subway station to the demonstration, according to Associated Press journalists at the scene.

Navalny and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption had called for the protests, which attracted crowds of hundreds or thousands in most sizeable Russian cities, from the Far East port of Vladivostok to the European heartland. The protests were the largest coordinated outpourings of dissatisfaction in Russia since the massive 2011-12 demonstrations that followed a fraud-tainted parliamentary election.

There were no immediate figures on the demonstration size in Moscow, but the one-hectare Pushkin Square was densely crowded as were sidewalks on the adjacent Tverskaya Street, suggesting that more than 10,000 people had showed up.

Scuffles with police erupted sporadically and some demonstrators were arrested, including a gray-haired man whom police dragged along the pavement.

"It's scary, but if everyone is afraid, no one would come out onto the streets," said 19-year-old Yana Aksyonova, explaining why she attended.

The protests Sunday focused on reports by Navalny's group claiming that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has amassed a collection of mansions, yachts and vineyards. The alleged luxuries include a house for raising ducks, so many placards in Sunday's protests showed mocking images of yellow duck toys.

"People are unhappy with the fact that there's been no investigation" of the corruption allegations, said Moscow protester Ivan Gronstein.

In the Pacific port city of Vladivostok, police forcefully detained some demonstrators near the city's railway terminal, in one case falling down a small grassy slope as they wrestled with a detainee.

News reports and social media reported demonstrations in large cities throughout the country including Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk. At least 25 people were reported arrested in Vladivostok and 12 in Khabarovsk.

Some demonstrators showed up with their faces painted green, a reference to a recent attack on Navalny when an assailant threw a green antiseptic liquid onto his face.

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Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:01:53 CST 13737213 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[Family of missing ex-FBI agent files lawsuit against Iran]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170326-Missing-American-Iran By Jon Gambrell / Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The family of a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran a decade ago on an unauthorized CIA assignment has filed a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic, accusing it of using "cold, cynical and false denials" to torture his loved ones.

The lawsuit by Robert Levinson's family in U.S. federal court comes years after the last hostage photos and video of the 69-year-old investigator surfaced in emails they say were sent by Iran so the country "would not be held responsible for his ultimate fate." The lawsuit also describes in detail offers by Iran to "arrange" for his release in exchange for a series of concessions, including the return of a Revolutionary Guard general who defected to the West.

"Iran has, for many years, established a pattern of seizing and holding hostages in order to extract concessions from the hostage's home country," the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington reads. "That Robert Levinson's seizure is a part of that pattern is reflected in Iran's multiple attempts to use Robert Levinson's imprisonment to extort concessions from the United States."

The family's lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages from Iran.

Iran's mission at the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment Sunday, amid Iran's long celebration of the annual Nowruz holiday that marks the Persian New Year and the arrival of spring. Iranian media previously carried international reports on the lawsuit, without elaborating.

Levinson disappeared from Iran's Kish Island on March 9, 2007. For years, U.S. officials would only say that Levinson, a meticulous FBI investigator credited with busting Russian and Italian mobsters, was working for a private firm on his trip.

In December 2013, The Associated Press revealed Levinson in fact had been on a mission for CIA analysts who had no authority to run spy operations. Levinson's family had received a $2.5 million annuity from the CIA in order to stop a lawsuit revealing details of his work, while the agency forced out three veteran analysts and disciplined seven others.

The lawsuit said emails to Levinson's family and friends began in August 2007, though the only photos and video of Levinson emerged in 2010 and 2011. The video message included a demand for $3 million and the release of "certain named individuals," the lawsuit said.

Iranian authorities also used a meeting with an American religious organization to ask for the release of a report on its nuclear program to be delayed in exchange for Levinson, the lawsuit said. At another time, Iran asked for the exchange of the defecting general, while Levinson remained held all the while, it said.

"For the past 10 years the Iranian government has held Robert Levinson captive while at the same time denying any knowledge or involvement in the circumstances of his capture," the lawsuit said. "In order to maintain its false story, Iran has held Robert Levinson incommunicado."

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Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:18:44 CST 13737196 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[Rape reaches 'epic proportions' in South Sudan's civil war]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170325-South-Sudan-Sexual-Violence By The Associated Press

MUNDRI, South Sudan -- After months of being raped by her rebel captors in the middle of South Sudan's civil war, the young woman became pregnant. Held in a muddy pit, sometimes chained to other prisoners, she later watched her hair fall out and her weight plummet. But the child was a spark of life.

And so she named him Barack Obama, she explains, now free. "I still have hope," she says, caressing the baby's cheek with a finger. "I just don't even know where to start."

The slender 23-year-old is one of thousands of rape victims in South Sudan's three-year-old conflict, which has created one of the world's largest humanitarian crises. Sexual violence has reached "epic proportions," says the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

Reported incidents of sexual or gender-based violence rose 60 percent last year. Seventy percent of women sheltering in U.N. camps in the capital, Juba, had been raped since the conflict began, according to a U.N. humanitarian survey conducted in December.

Mundri, a city of 47,000 people in Amadi state, has been called the epicenter of the problem. Aid organizations blame it on the recent increase in fighting here between rebels and government troops, the latest shift of the war in an already devastated nation.

The young woman didn't expect to become embroiled in South Sudan's conflict.

"I just came back to visit my home and I lost my dreams," she said in an interview earlier this month. "If I talk about it, I just cry."

She had been visiting her family in the summer of 2015, with plans to return to school in the capital, Juba. She never made it back.

Instead, she was abducted by rebels loyal to an opposition group calling itself MTN, after a popular African telephone company. Their catch phrase riffs on the company's slogan, taunting: "We're everywhere you go."

The rebels burst through the door of her mother's hut, firing their weapons and shouting, she said. They were searching for her uncle, who'd been accused of conspiring with government forces.

"They beat my grandfather and aunt and then said if they couldn't find my uncle they'll take me instead," she said. "I told them I'd rather die than go with them."

But the rebels dragged her into the bush and brought her to their headquarters, where she was charged, tried and convicted for her uncle's "crimes."

For the next 16 months, she was forced to live in large, muddy pits infested with snakes, she said. Subsisting on only vegetables, she wasted away.

"I'm not attractive anymore," she says now, tugging at the waistband of her baggy pants. Shifting around in a plastic chair outside a coffee shop, she shyly adjusted her headscarf, covering what little hair she has left.

She said she was released in December because she became ill.

"They told me to get medicine and then changed their minds and told me to leave and never come back," she said.

Mundri has many such stories. According to a recent Inter-Agency assessment by international and local organizations focused on gender-based violence, 29 rape cases were reported in Mundri between August and October.

Local organizations say the number is likely double that, but most incidents go unreported because of stigma surrounding rape.

"Realistically, it's more like over 50 cases," said James Labadia, founder of MAYA, a local aid organization that focuses on women's empowerment. He has been working with rape survivors for several years but said things have never been so dire.

"The end of 2016 was the worst quarter I've ever seen," he said.

The group received funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development last year and Labadia plans to seek more, a possibility which may be clouded by President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts.

Reports of rape and abduction are rampant on both sides in Mundri, which is under government control while neighboring villages are held by the opposition.

"They stuck their fingers in my daughter's underwear," said another resident, a 26-year-old mother.

In September, two soldiers broke into her house and tried to assault her mother and 9-year-old child, she said. She begged to be raped instead. "If they touched my daughter I would have died."

The soldiers left her daughter and mother alone and gang-raped her instead, while her family was forced to listen in the adjacent room, she said.

She reported the case to the county commissioner but said no one was ever arrested. She lives in fear it will happen again.

South Sudanese officials insist they are taking steps to counter sexual violence. Things in Mundri are slowly improving, said Abokato Kenyi, the minister of education, gender and social welfare in Amadi state.

"The government has put out a new law that any soldier who misbehaves will now be punished," Kenyi said. As of January, he said, anyone convicted of rape will be sentenced to prison.

During the town's first International Women's Day celebration since 2014 earlier this month, Kenyi called on men and women to work together to combat sexual assault.

"Come out from the fear," he said.

But survivors say what they really want is to rebuild their lives.

Since returning to the community, the 23-year-old rape victim has received psychosocial support from MAYA's staff and joined a women's empowerment group. They're launching business initiatives such as selling soap and baked goods in hopes of helping women become self-sufficient.

Ultimately, her dream is to return to school and become a nurse.

"I can't give up," she said. "I need to continue going to school and fighting for my rights. When you get the woman, you get the nation."

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Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:59:52 CST 13735234 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[London attacker was cheerful, joking on eve of rampage]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170324-Britain-Attack By The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Long before his short stints in jail turned into years behind bars, Khalid Masood was known as Adrian Elms, with a reputation for drinking and an unpredictable temper.

At least twice he was convicted of violent crimes, well before he stabbed a police officer to death Wednesday with a motion one horrified witness described as like "playing a drum on your back with two knives."

But as he checked out of his hotel to head toward London for his deadly rampage, the manager said he was struck by his guest's friendly and outgoing manner.

Within hours, Masood drove his rented SUV across the crowded Westminster Bridge, leaving a trail of dead and wounded. Then he jumped out and attacked the officer at Parliament with a blade in each hand, before being shot to death by police.

In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized in what authorities called a terrorist attack.

Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record dating to 1983. The violence came later, first in 2000 when he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking four pints of beer, according to a newspaper account from the time.

The victim, Piers Mott, would keep the scar the rest of his life, said his widow, Heather.

The last conviction was in 2003, also involving a knife attack. It's not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.

Heather Mott said Masood appeared to come out of jail "even worse." She said she got chills when she learned the identity of the London attacker.

"And it makes you feel even sicker when you think, God, that was the guy who lived here. What a pity they didn't realize he was a nutter," she said.

Police are combing through "massive amounts of computer data" and have contacted 3,500 witnesses as they look for clues as to why the British-born man launched the deadly attack.

"Clearly that's a main line of our investigation is what led him to be radicalized: Was it through influences in our community, influences from overseas or through online propaganda? Our investigations and our arrests will help in that, but the public appeal will make a big difference if people come forward with more information," said Britain's top counterterrorism officer, Mark Rowley.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Masood was "investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism" years ago. But she called him "a peripheral figure."

The Islamic State group described Masood as "a soldier," claiming responsibility for the attack. Rowley said police are investigating whether he "acted totally alone inspired by terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him."

Ten people remained in custody Friday on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

Detectives have searched 21 properties in London, Brighton, Wales, Manchester and the central English city of Birmingham in one of Britain's biggest counterterrorism operations in years. Wednesday's attack was the deadliest in Britain since suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on London's transit system on July 7, 2005.

Once Masood's identity became known, police and the media began tracing his final hours.

The manager of the Preston Park Hotel in the beachside city of Brighton where Masood stayed the night before the attack said he seemed unusually outgoing and mentioned details about his family, including having a sick father.

"He was normal, in fact friendly, because we spent possibly five or 10 minutes talking to him about his background and where he came from," Sabeur Toumi told Sky News.

He was "laughing and joking, telling us stories about where he lived," Toumi said.

Police raided the room, searching for clues about Masood. Among the items seized were the trouser press and the toilet paper holder.

Masood's mother lives in rural Wales, according to a website on which she sells handmade creations like cushions and handbags. The listings on Folksy by Janet Ajao have been taken down, but in an archived version of the site, she describes living in "rural west Wales with my husband, border collie and a few chickens." Calls to the home in remote Trelech, Wales, went unanswered Friday.

When Masood was in school, he took his stepfather's name, Ajao. He was athletic and popular in high school, known as someone who liked to party, according to Stuart Knight, a former classmate who said the young man was one of only two black students in the school of 600.

"I am in shock — that is not sympathy for what he has done — he was a nice guy and I'm surprised he turned and did what he did," Knight said.

In one of the last places Masood lived, a home in Birmingham, neighbors recalled him as a quiet man whose wife was veiled and who wore traditional Muslim clothing. But the neighborhood is not among one of the city's many Muslim enclaves, suggesting he was not deeply embedded in his religious community.

Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner who was born and raised in Birmingham, said details emerging of the attacker's life raised questions about whether he had strong ties to the Muslim community and where he may have been radicalized.

Since British authorities began cracking down on mosques, many people were instead being radicalized online, he added.

"He did not live in a Muslim neighborhood. In my mind, in my analysis, he was probably a drifter," said Begg, adding that no one he knew in the community had met Masood. "I'd also be surprised if he had any connection with a mosque, because sadly they are places where you can no longer discuss politics or air grievances."

Cultural and religious alienation can fuel such violence, he said.

Begg helps run a group called Cage that has encountered extremists who spoke of their alienation before they committed attacks. Begg said his group did not know of any impending attacks.

"I've always felt negative radicalization is part push and pull," Begg said. "If a person feels like he doesn't belong ... this can be part of the push."

While in prison, Begg said he saw others who succumbed to radicalism. He said that groups like the Islamic State have exploited people's weaknesses and criminality.

Further details of the London rampage continued to emerge Friday.

A former British Army officer told the BBC that rescuers held the hand of Constable Keith Palmer and talked to him as they tried in vain to save his life after he was stabbed.

Mike Crofts, a former Army captain who served in Afghanistan, said he was in the courtyard outside Parliament following a meeting with politicians about using boxing to engage young men when the attack took place.

"I rushed towards the scene," he said, and began first aid along with Staff Sgt. Tony Davis, one of Crofts' instructors at Sandhurst, Britain's military academy. Ultimately, 20 to 30 people tried to save Palmer's life.

"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to save him," Crofts said. "Palmer at the time was surrounded by a whole host of colleagues who really loved him. We held his hand through the experience. We talked to him throughout, but unfortunately, he passed away."

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Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:12:29 CST 13733089 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[South Korean ferry that sank 3 years ago lifted from sea]]> http://www.americanpress.com/2017-03-23-Ferry-raised By The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea  — A 6,800-ton South Korean ferry was hoisted to the surface Thursday nearly three years after it capsized and sank in violent seas off the country's southwestern coast, an emotional moment for the country as it searches for closure to one of its deadliest disasters.

But just when it seemed that the salvaging operation was going smoothly, workers discovered that a vehicle ramp was unlocked and dangling from the ship's left side. That forced a delay that could jeopardize the delicate operation to transport the corroded ship back to land.

More than 300 people — most of whom were students on a high school trip — died when the Sewol sank on April 16, 2014, touching off an outpouring of national grief and soul searching about long-ignored public safety and regulatory failures. Public outrage over what was seen as a botched rescue job by the government contributed to the recent ouster of Park Geun-hye as president.

Salvage crews had planned to raise the Sewol until its upper side is about 13 meters (42 feet) above the water's surface by Thursday evening so it could be loaded onto a semi-submersible, heavy-lift vessel that would carry it to a mainland port.

Lee Cheoljo, an official from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said divers were trying to cut off the ramp with welding equipment because it wasn't possible to fit the ferry into the transport vessel with the ramp hanging down. He said it was vital for the divers to finish the job by Friday morning so the crew will have enough time to load the ferry by midnight Friday.

The waters where the ferry sank are notorious for dangerous currents. The sea is relatively calm now, but currents are forecast to strengthen on Saturday.

Lee said the Sewol, which had been lying on its left side in about 44 meters (145 feet) of water, was 10 meters (33 feet) above surface when the lifting process was halted Thursday night.

He said workers may face a decision on whether to continue the salvaging operation if the ferry isn't loaded on the vessel by Friday.

"All we can do now is to concentrate all the personnel and equipment we have so that the ramp is cut off by the morning of March 24," Lee said.

Workers on two barges began the salvaging operation Wednesday night, rolling up 66 cables connected to a frame of metal beams divers spent months placing beneath the ferry.

The bodies of 295 passengers were recovered after the sinking, but nine are still missing. Relatives, some of whom were watching from two fishing boats just outside the operation area, hope those remains will be found inside the ferry. Some cried as they took turns watching the emerging wreckage with telescopes.

"I shouted in joy when we heard that the ship surfaced at dawn. I thought we finally can find the missing nine," Lee Geum-hee, the mother of a missing school girl, told a television crew.

"But when I actually saw the ship coming up, I was devastated. All this time my poor child was in that cold, dirty place. It was heart wrenching."

If the Sewol is successfully loaded onto the transport vessel, it would take days to empty the ferry of water and fuel, and another two weeks for it to reach a port about 90 kilometers (55 miles) away in the city of Mokpo.

Workers will then begin clearing mud and debris and search for the remains of the missing victims. An investigation committee will also search for clues that could further explain the cause of the sinking, which has been blamed on overloaded cargo, improper storage and other negligence.

A group representing the families of the victims issued a statement demanding that it be part of the investigation committee. Many bereaved family members and their supporters have been demanding a more thorough investigation of the government's responsibility in the sinking, questioning why higher-level officials have not been held accountable.

The ferry's captain survived and is serving a life sentence after a court found him guilty of committing homicide through "willful negligence" because he fled the ship without issuing an evacuation order.

Ousted President Park was forced to defend herself against accusations that she was out of contact for several hours on the day of the sinking. The allegations were included in an impeachment bill lawmakers passed against Park in December, amid broader corruption suspicions.

Park was formally removed from office by the Constitutional Court earlier this month. She is now under criminal investigation over suspicions that she conspired with a confidante to extort money and favors from companies and allow the friend to secretly interfere with state affairs.

Salvaging the huge, corroded ferry from a channel notorious for dangerous currents has been a difficult and expensive job. South Korea agreed in 2015 to an 85.1 billion won ($76 million) deal with a consortium led by China's state-run Shanghai Salvage Co. to do it.

While many large shipwrecks around the world have first been cut into sections to be raised, this was never an option for Sewol because there are hopes of finding the remains of the missing victims inside the wreckage.


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Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:59:44 CST 13730727 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[Pope OKs sainthood for Fatima siblings, Mexico child martyrs]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170323-Vatican-Child-Saints

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis is making five more child saints: two Portuguese shepherd children who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in Fatima 100 years ago and three Mexican adolescents who were killed for their faith in the 16th century.

Francis signed the canonization decrees Thursday.

In the case of the Mexicans, Francis declared the three Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala worthy of sainthood without having a miracle attributed to their intercession, once again sidestepping the typical saint-making process. The boys, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, were converted to Catholicism by missionaries in the early 1500s.

Francis followed the rules in approving a miracle for Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the Fatima siblings, just two months before he is to travel to the Fatima shrine to mark the centennial anniversary of their apparitions.

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Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:57:13 CST 13730338 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[4 dead in vehicle, knife attack near British Parliament]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170322-Britain-Parliament-Incident-Update By The Associated Press

LONDON -- A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain's seat of power Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Four people were killed, including the attacker, and about 20 others were injured.

Lawmakers, lords, staff and visitors were locked down as the man was shot by police within the perimeter of Parliament and just yards (meters) from entrances to the building itself. He died, as did two pedestrians on the bridge, and the police officer.

A doctor who treated the wounded said some had "catastrophic" injuries.

In the House of Commons, deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced that the sitting was being suspended and told lawmakers not to leave.

Police said they were treating the attacks as a terrorist incident and had launched a full counterterrorism investigation. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

"We are satisfied at this stage that it looks like there was only on attacker," said Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Mark Rowley. "But it would be foolish to be overconfident early on."

The threat level for international terrorism in the U.K. was already listed at severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely."

Wednesday was the anniversary of suicide bombings in the Brussels airport and subway that killed 32 people, and the latest events echoed recent vehicle attacks in Berlin and Nice, France.

As lawmakers were voting inside Parliament, many reported hearing the sound of gunshots. Parliament was locked down for two hours, and adjoining Westminster subway station was shuttered.

Conservative parliamentarian Tobias Ellwood, whose brother was killed in the Bali terror attack in 2002, performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the police officer who was stabbed and later died. About 10 yards away from the police officer was the attacker who was shot dead by police after scaling the security wall toward the Parliament's grounds.

Ellwood, who served in the British military and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kuwait and Cyprus, applied pressure to the police officer's multiple lacerations.

Photographs showed Ellwood's bloodied hands and face from the police officer's wounds while the alleged attacker was seen nearby.

Ellwood has been an undersecretary at the Foreign Office since 2014, covering the Middle East and Africa.

After leaving a trail of destruction on the bridge in a gray SUV, the attacker managed to get through tall iron gates and into Parliament's New Palace Yard, a cobbled courtyard in the shadow of the Big Ben clock tower.

Just yards to the right is the entrance to 1,000-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the parliamentary complex, busy with visitors and school groups. Beyond that, a corridor leads to the building's Central Lobby, flanked by House of Commons and House of Lords chambers.

Prime Minister Theresa May was among lawmakers near the Commons at the time of the attack, and was quickly ushered away by security officers and driven back to Downing St.

To get that far, the attacker would have had to evade the armed officers who patrol the Parliament complex in pairs, as well as Parliament's own security staff, who don't carry guns.

The attack unfolded within sight of some of the city's most famous tourist sites, including the London Eye, a large Ferris wheel with pods that overlook the capital. It stopped rotating and footage showed the pods full as viewers watched police and medical crews on the bridge, which has at its north end Big Ben and Parliament, two iconic symbols.

"The whole length of the bridge there were people on the ground," witness Richard Tice told Sky News. The London Ambulance Service said it had treated at least 10 people on the bridge, and British port officials said a woman was pulled from the River Thames, injured but alive.

Dr. Colleen Anderson of St. Thomas' Hospital said a female pedestrian died and around a dozen people were hurt.

"There were some with minor injuries, some catastrophic. Some had injuries they could walk away from or who have life-changing injuries," she said.

The French Foreign Ministry said that three students on a school trip from Saint-Joseph in the Brittany town of Concarneau were among the injured.

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve offered support to the British and to "the French students wounded, their families and their schoolmates." London is a common destination for French school trips.

Witness Rick Longley told the Press Association that he heard a bang and saw a car plow into pedestrians and come to a crashing stop. Images from the scene showed pedestrians sprawled on the ground, with blood streaming from a woman surrounded by a scattering of postcards.

"They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben," he said. "A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman. I have never seen anything like that. I just can't believe what I just saw."

At Parliament, a body was seen lying in the yard. It wasn't clear if it was the attacker.

Dennis Burns, who was just entering Parliament for a meeting, told the Press Association he heard a radio message saying an officer had been stabbed. Police and security rushed outside as he was going in.

"When I got inside I was wondering what the hell was going on and I saw dozens of panicked people running down the street," he said. "The first stream was around 30 people and the second stream was 70 people. It looked like they were running for their lives."

Daily Mail journalist Quentin Letts said he saw a man in black attack a police officer outside Parliament before being shot two or three times as he tried to storm into the House of Commons.

"He had something in his hand, it looked like a stick of some sort, and he was challenged by a couple of policemen in yellow jackets," Letts told the BBC. "And one of the yellow-jacketed policemen fell down and we could see the man in black moving his arm in a way that suggested he was stabbing or striking the yellow-jacketed policeman."

Lett said the other officer ran to get help and the man in black ran toward the entrance.

"As this attacker was running towards the entrance two plain-clothed guys with guns shouted at him what sounded like a warning, he ignored it and they shot two or three times and he fell," he said.

London has often been the target of terrorist attacks, from IRA campaigns in the 1970s and 80s to more recent Islamist plots.

On July 7, 2005, four Al-Qaida-inspired British bombers blew themselves up on three subway trains and a bus in London, killing 52 people.

British security forces say they have thwarted some 13 terror plots over the past four years, but in recent years the U.K. has largely been spared major international terror attacks such as the ones seen in Belgium and France.

Last year, a far-right supporter shot and killed British lawmaker Jo Cox, who had campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the European Union. Prior to that, an attacker claiming to be motivated by Syria stabbed three people at a London subway station.

The most gruesome recent attack occurred in 2013 when two Muslim converts of Nigerian descent attacked Lee Rigby, a British Army soldier who was walking down the street. The men ran Rigby down with their vehicle and then used a cleaver to hack him to death as bystanders watched in horror.

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Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:51:27 CST 13727814 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[Officer stabbed at UK Parliament; report of car rampage]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170322-Britain-Parliament-Incident By Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka / Associated Press

LONDON -- Britain's Parliament was locked down Wednesday after an attacker stabbed an officer and was then shot by police, and witnesses said a vehicle struck several people on the nearby Westminster Bridge. London police said they were treating the attack as a "terrorist incident until we know otherwise."

The threat level for international terrorism in the UK was listed at severe. The city was also on alert for the Thursday funeral of Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander.

Dennis Burns, who was just entering Parliament for a meeting, told the Press Association he heard a radio message saying an officer had been stabbed. Police and security rushed outside as he was going in.

"When I got inside I was wondering what the hell was going on and I saw dozens of panicked people running down the street," he said. "The first stream was around 30 people and the second stream was 70 people.

"It looked like they were running for their lives," he said.

On the bridge, witnesses said a vehicle struck several people, and photos showed a car plowed into railings.

The former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video on Twitter that showed people lying injured on the bridge.

Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard Centre for European Studies, says he saw at least five people lying on the ground after being "mown down" by a car.

In Parliament, witnesses reported hearing sounds like gunfire.

Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington said an assailant at Parliament was shot and that there were reports of other violence nearby.

Journalists there said they were told to stay in their offices. Press Association news agency reported that two people were seen lying within the grounds of Parliament.

George Eaton, a journalist with the New Statesman, said that from the window of Parliament's Press Gallery, he saw police shoot a man who charged at officers.

"A large crowd was seen fleeing the man before he entered the parliamentary estate," he wrote on the publication's website. "After several officers evaded him he was swiftly shot by armed police."

Prime Minister Theresa May was at Parliament when the incident began, but her office says she is safe.

The scene unfolded within clear sight of the London Eye, a large ferris wheel with viewing pods with views of the capital. Footage showed the pods full as viewers watched police and medical crews on the bridge.

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Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:12:08 CST 13727432 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[Greece, creditors stepping up talks as debt deadline looms]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170320-Greece-Bailout By The Associated Press

BRUSSELS -- Greece and its international creditors are stepping up talks on issues holding up the release of more loans to keep the country's debt-wracked economy afloat.

Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said finance ministers from the 19 nations that used the shared euro currency agreed Monday on more talks "intensified in the coming days here in Brussels."

He said the aim is to "clear those last big issues out of the way," including tax, pension and labor market reforms.

It's hoped the problems can be resolved by the next Eurogroup meeting on April 7, but Dijsselbloem said "there is no promise that all the work will be done by then."

Greece must pay around 7 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in July and without more loans it faces a potential exit from the euro.

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Mon, 20 Mar 2017 12:48:50 CST 13722987 at http://www.americanpress.com
<![CDATA[South Sudan plane crashes, all passengers and crew survive]]> http://www.americanpress.com/20170320-South-Sudan-Plane-Crash By The Associated Press

JUBA, South Sudan -- A passenger plane crash-landed and burned in Wau, northwestern South Sudan, but all passengers and crew survived, said an airport official.

The plane was landing but then crashed, said Wau's Acting Airport Manager Stephen Youngule.

"The plane touched down and then jumped up again. The pilot couldn't control it," said Youngule, who is also Deputy Director of Air Traffic Services. "I saw it until the very last moment before the fire engulfed the aircraft."

When the plane crashed, its door flew open, which allowed the pilot and rescue crews to get everybody out, he said. Those with injuries were taken to Wau's hospital for treatment, said Youngule.

Nine people were pulled from the debris alive, according to Eye Radio, a South Sudanese radio station and website. On social media, images appeared of the plane with smoke billowing from the wrecked fuselage.

The plane was from South Supreme Airlines, a South Sudanese carrier. It was making a trip from Juba to Wau, in northwestern South Sudan when it crashed. Most of the passengers were South Sudanese with two foreigners, one each from China and Eritrea.

Since 2013, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that has killed at least 50,000 people. In late February, a famine was declared in the country and more than 1 million people are at risk of starvation.

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Mon, 20 Mar 2017 12:37:27 CST 13722951 at http://www.americanpress.com