10 Arrested in Turkey in Deaths of 7 from Kurdish Family

Authorities said Saturday that 10 suspects had been detained in the killing of seven people from an ethnic Kurdish family in Turkey’s central Konya province.The members of the Dedeoglu family were killed in a brutal gun attack Friday. Officials said they had not yet apprehended the gunman. A statement from the Konya prosecutor’s office said initial evidence pointed to an ongoing fight between two families who lived in the same area.But the family’s lawyer and the pro-Kurdish opposition party said the killings were ethnically motivated. After an attack in May, one member of the family — who was among Friday’s victims — told reporters that they were being harassed and attacked for being Kurdish.Lawyer Abdurrahman Karabulut said family members had worried they would be attacked again.Years of frictionThe prosecutor’s office said in a statement that enmity between the two families dated to 2010. Two fights in 2021 led to investigations; two people remain in custody because of those probes, but other suspects were released. The statement rejected the claim of a racially motivated attack.There were few details given about those arrested, but media reports said the other family was not Kurdish.The co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the ethnic Kurdish family members were killed because of hate speech and linked it to a rise in what he called racist attacks. Mithat Sancar accused the government of targeting the HDP and Kurds in general.Media reports said the family’s house was set on fire after the attack.Turkey has been fighting a Kurdish insurgency since 1984 and the conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, including civilians targeted by car bombs in 2016 and 2017 that were blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The decadeslong conflict has also included discriminatory state policies and an ethnically charged atmosphere. Kurds are Turkey’s second-largest ethnic group.Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said allegations that the killings were ethnically motivated were a provocation against the country’s unity.

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Ship Rescues Nearly 200 Migrants Off Libya 

The Ocean Viking on Saturday rescued 196 migrants off Libya, the humanitarian ship’s operator said.It first picked up 57 people in an inflatable dinghy struggling in international waters off the North African country, SOS Mediterranee said.In the afternoon, the ship’s crew carried out two additional rescues in the same area, plucking 54 people from a dinghy and 64 others from a wooden vessel.In their latest operation, they saved 21 people from a wooden vessel.The total rescued included at least two pregnant women and 33 minors, 22 of them unaccompanied.According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 1,146 people died at sea trying to reach Europe during the first half of 2021.SOS Mediterranee says it has rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the ship Aquarius, then with Ocean Viking.SOS Mediterranee accuses European Union governments of neglecting coordinated search-and-rescue action to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing from war-torn Libya, where they are often victims of organized crime and militia violence.Libyan authorities are also accused of forcibly returning intercepted ships to Libya, even when they are in European waters.A U.N. Human Rights Office report in late May urged Libya and the EU to overhaul their rescue operations, saying existing policies “fail to prioritize the lives, safety and human rights” of people attempting to cross from Africa.

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Heat Wave Causes Massive Melt of Greenland Ice Sheet 

Greenland’s ice sheet has experienced a “massive melting event” during a heat wave that has seen temperatures more than 10 degrees above seasonal norms, according to Danish researchers.Since Wednesday, the ice sheet covering the vast Arctic territory has melted by about 8 billion tons a day, twice its normal average rate during summer, reported the Polar Portal website, which is run by Danish researchers.The Danish Meteorological Institute reported temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), more than twice the normal average summer temperature, in northern Greenland.And Nerlerit Inaat airport in the northeast of the territory recorded 23.4 degrees C (74.1 F) on Thursday — the highest recorded there since records began.With the heat wave affecting most of Greenland that day, the Polar Portal website reported a “massive melting event” involving enough water “to cover Florida with two inches of water” (five centimeters).The largest melt of the Greenland ice sheet still dates to the summer of 2019.The area where the melting took place this time, though, is larger than two years ago, the website added.The Greenland ice sheet is the second-largest mass of freshwater ice on the planet with nearly 1.8 million square kilometers (695,000 square miles), second only to Antarctica.The melting of the ice sheets started in 1990 and has accelerated since 2000. The mass loss in recent years is approximately four times greater than it was before 2000, according to the researchers at Polar Portal.One European study published in January said ocean levels would rise between 10 and 18 centimeters by 2100 — or 60 percent faster than previously estimated — at the rate at which the Greenland ice sheet was now melting.The Greenland ice sheet, if completely melted, would raise the ocean levels by six to seven meters.But with a relatively cool start to the Greenland summer, with snowfalls and rains, the retreat of the ice sheet so far for 2021 remains within the historical norm, according to Polar Portal. The melting period extends from June to early September.

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Turkey Evacuates Panicked Tourists by Boat From Wildfires 

Panicked tourists in Turkey hurried to the seashore to wait for rescue boats Saturday after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Aegean resort of Bodrum because of the dangers posed by nearby wildfires, Turkish media reported.Coast guard units were leading the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new wildfires erupted. Video showed plumes of smoke and fire enveloping a hill close to the seashore.The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.The minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said Saturday that 91 of the 101 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat had been brought under control. Neighborhoods affected by fire in five provinces were declared disaster zones by Turkey’s emergency and disaster authority.Government assistancePresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan inspected some damage Saturday from a helicopter.Speaking from the town of Manavgat, Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would cover the rents for people affected by fire and rebuild their homes. He said taxes, social security and credit payments would be postponed for those affected and small businesses would be offered credit with zero interest.”We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost, but we can replace everything that was burned,” he said.A man watches wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, July 31, 2021.Erdogan said the number of planes fighting the fires had been increased from six to 13, including planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and that thousands of Turkish personnel, as well as dozens of helicopters and drones, were assisting the firefighting efforts.At least five people have died from the fires in Manavgat and one died in Marmaris. Both towns are Mediterranean tourist destinations. Tourism is an important source of revenue for Turkey, and business owners were hoping this summer would be much better than last year, when pandemic travel restrictions caused tourism to plummet.Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 400 people affected by the fires in Manavgat were treated at hospitals and released, while 10 others were still hospitalized for fire injuries. In Marmaris, 159 people were treated at a hospital and one person was still undergoing treatment for burns.In southern Hatay province, flames jumped into populated areas but later apparently were brought under control.Common occurrencesWildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the arid summer months. Turkey has blamed some previous forest fires on arson or outlawed Kurdish militants. Erdogan said Saturday that authorities were investigating the possibility of “sabotage” causing fires.Meanwhile, a heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean.Firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily battled dozens of blazes Saturday fueled by high temperatures, prompting the region’s governor to request assistance from Rome. Some 150 people trapped in two seaside areas in the city of Catania were evacuated late Friday by sea, where they were picked up by rubber dinghies and transferred to Coast Guard boats.Temperatures in Greece and nearby countries in southeast Europe are expected to climb to 42 degrees Celsius (more than 107 Fahrenheit) Monday in many cities and towns.

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Virus Pass Protesters March in France, Clash With Police in Paris 

Thousands of people protested France’s special virus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.About 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Paris police took up posts along the Champs-Elysees to guard the famed avenue.With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of August 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.For anti-pass demonstrators, liberty was the slogan of the day.Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she resigned from her job, accusing the government of using a form of blackmail.”I think that we mustn’t be told what to do,” she told The Associated Press, adding that French medical workers during the first wave of COVID-19 were quite mistreated. “And now, suddenly we are told that if we don’t get vaccinated it is our fault that people are contaminated. I think it is sickening.”Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march. Police used their fists on several occasions.Protesters attend a demonstration called by the “yellow vest” movement against France’s restrictions, including a compulsory health pass, to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, in Paris, July 31, 2021.Tear gas, water cannon, injuriesAs marchers headed eastward and some pelted police with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, and plumes of smoke filled the sky. A male protester was seen with a bleeding head and a police officer was carried away by colleagues. Three officers were injured, the French press quoted police as saying. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.A calmer march was led by the former top lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who left to form his own small anti-EU party. But Florian Philippot’s new cause, against the virus pass, seems far more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched Saturday to the Health Ministry.Among those not present this week was Francois Asselineau, leader of another tiny anti-EU party, the Popular Republican Union, and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who came down with COVID-19. In a video on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on people to denounce the “absurd, unjust and totally liberty-killing” health pass.French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong inroads. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed Friday night, compared with just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month.The government announcement that the health pass would take effect August 9 has driven many unvaccinated French to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won’t be shut down during the summer holiday season. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.About 112,000 people have died of the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.

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Taliban Assault Major Afghan Cities as US Troops Exit

Government forces in Afghanistan battled a major assault Saturday by Taliban insurgents on Lashkar Gah, the capital of embattled southern Helmand province, and officials said clashes were ongoing inside parts of the city.Both warring sides reportedly suffered heavy casualties. The fierce fighting forced civilians to flee to safety amid allegations the Afghan air force had bombed and destroyed a city hospital.An Italian medical charity, Emergency, confirmed fighting was taking place inside the city of Lashkar Gah. “Our hospital is full. Four extra bed spaces added so far,” the organization tweeted.🔴 FILE – Afghan security forces stand near an armored vehicle during fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in the Busharan area on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, May 5, 2021.The Taliban also have previously assaulted and tried to seize control of Lashkar Gah but they were beaten back mainly because Afghan forces at the time had the backing of U.S. military airstrikes.That cover is no longer available to Afghan forces, though U.S. officials confirmed conducting some strikes against Taliban positions in Helmand in recent days, apparently to keep them from threatening the provincial capital.The insurgents control almost all the districts around Lashkar Gah.Taliban hang twoThe Taliban hanged two men Saturday from the entrance gate of a nearby town, accusing them of kidnapping children.An insurgent statement sent to journalists said the men were found guilty of the crime by a Taliban court. The incident revived memories of the harsh Islamic rule the Taliban had imposed on most of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.The U.S.-led military coalition invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban weeks after deadly terror strikes against America in September 2001 that Washington said were plotted by al-Qaida leaders from their sanctuaries on Afghan soil at the time.VOA’s Afghan Service contributed to this report.

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