Key suspect in Paris terror attacks goes on trial +++ Activists accuse Syrian forces of chemical attack
News | 5 February 2018
Key suspect in Paris terror attacks goes on trial
The sole surviving suspect from the 2015 terror attacks in Paris has gone on trial in Belgium. Salah Abdeslam, who is believed to have played a key role in the attacks, is facing charges relating to a shootout with police, prior to his capture in Brussels. Gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in Paris after targeting a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars. Salah Abdeslam is refusing to cooperate with investigators or respond to any questions in court. He is not expected to face trial in France until 2020.
Activists accuse Syrian forces of chemical attack
Activists in Syria say more than 10 civilians have been hospitalised following a suspected chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces in northern Idlib province. The injured reportedly smelt of chlorine gas and had symptoms including difficulty breathing and irritation to the eyes. This doctor, who did not want to be identified, described the attack in the rebel held town of Saraqeb. “A helicopter loaded with barrels launched a barrel bomb loaded with chlorine against Saraqeb and fifteen civilians were intoxicated. Three white helmet volunteers also were intoxicated with symptoms of suffocation.”
South African president Zuma under pressure to quit
Senior figures in South Africa's ruling African National Congress are holding an emergency meeting today to discuss the future of President Jacob Zuma. Zuma has been under mounting pressure to step down amid allegations of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. Anti-corruption campaigner David Lewis says the ANC faces a divisive confidence motion in parliament if Zuma does not resign. “You will face the spectacle of the ANC divided right down the middle, voting with the opposition, or a big rump of them, to get rid of their leader. And that would be unbelievably humiliating for the ANC.”
German coalition talks extended beyond deadline
Talks between Germany's Social Democrats and Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc have been extended beyond a deadline, as the two sides try to reach agreement on a new grand coalition. Negotiators say they are optimistic that a deal can be struck, however differences reportedly remain over health and employment policy. The coalition is seen as Merkel's last chance of forming a government following her party's poor showing in September's election.
Britain to leave EU customs union says PM
The office of British Prime Minister Theresa May says the UK government remains committed to withdrawing from the EU's customs union, after Britain leaves the bloc in 2019. The comments follow reports of a rift within May's cabinet over the issue. A new round of Brexit talks are set to get underway this week.
Man shot trying to enter office of the Iranian president
Iran's state run news-agency says a man wielding a knife has been shot by security guards while trying to enter the compound of President Hassan Rouhani. The 35 year old was reportedly taken to hospital for treatment. No information has been released about his motivation for entering the building.
Sunny conditions have been forecast for the west this afternoon with cloud dominating in the east and south east. Top temperatures will range from -3 to +6 degrees.
- John Cummins