Category Archives: World

Venezuela crisis: Helicopter launches attack on Supreme Court

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Venezuelan authorities inspect the area around the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, 27 June 2017

Police surrounded the Supreme Court after the grenades were dropped photo: EPA

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has been attacked by grenades dropped from a helicopter in what President Nicolás Maduro called a “terrorist attack”.

Footage on social media shows a police helicopter circling over the city before shots and a loud bang are heard.

The police officer said to have piloted the stolen aircraft issued a statement denouncing the “criminal government”. His whereabouts are unknown.

It comes after mass protests against the political and economic crisis.

The Supreme Court is regularly criticised by the Venezuelan opposition for its rulings which bolster Mr Maduro’s hold on power.

What happened?

In an address from the presidential palace, President Maduro said the helicopter had flown over the Supreme Court and also the justice and interior ministries.

Officials quoted by Reuters news agency said four grenades were dropped on the court and 15 shots had been fired at the interior ministry.

No injuries were reported but Mr Maduro said “a social event” had been taking place at the Supreme Court and the attack could have caused “dozens of deaths”. One of the grenades failed to detonate, he added.

Handout photo shows Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro (C), during a rally of supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, 27 June 2017

President Maduro is facing regular protests against his government photo: EPA

Mr Maduro has placed the military on alert.

“I have activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace,” he said. “Sooner or later, we are going to capture that helicopter and those who carried out this terror attack.”

Who flew the helicopter?

The police officer identified himself as Oscar Pérez in video statements posted on the social media platform Instagram.

Appearing in military fatigues and flanked by armed, masked men in uniform, he appealed to Venezuelans to oppose “tyranny”.

Man identifying himself as Oscar Pérez makes statement

A police officer identifying himself as Oscar Pérez made a statement on Instagram photo: INSTAGRAM

“We are a coalition of military employees, policemen and civilians who are looking for balance and are against this criminal government,” he said.

“We don’t belong to any political tendency or party. We are nationalists, patriots and institutionalists.”

He said the “fight” was not against the security forces but “against the impunity of this government. It is against tyranny”.

It is not clear how much support, if any, the officer has.

Mr Maduro said the pilot had worked for former Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, but was no longer with him.

Analysis: Will Grant, BBC News, in Mexico

It is generally an exercise in futility trying to predict if some new twist in Venezuela’s long-running crisis is a “turning point” for the country.

There have been scores of seemingly decisive moments over the past few months – from the initial decision to strong-arm the national assembly, to the latest death of a teenage protester in Caracas – that quickly faded into the general malaise afflicting the oil-rich nation.

However, the sight of an apparently disaffected member of the security forces dropping grenades on the Supreme Court and allegedly firing on government buildings is extreme, even by Venezuela’s standards.

Whether “Oscar Pérez” is indeed part of a coalition of like-minded “military employees, policemen and civilians” or just a rogue policeman is hard to say.

Certainly President Maduro was quick to dub the incident “a terrorist attack” and used it as a reason to “activate” the armed forces to keep the peace.

However, earlier in the day he, too, had thrown down the gauntlet to his opponents. “If the Bolivarian Revolution was at risk,” he said, “what we couldn’t do with votes, we would do with arms.” The opposition in Venezuela took that as an overt threat.

This helicopter incident may also pass quickly, or it may be more serious. Certainly though, the security situation in Venezuela could hardly be worse ahead of a highly controversial election next month over the government’s plan to create a new constituent assembly.

Why now?

There have been almost daily anti-government protests in Venezuela for over two months as the country’s economic and political crisis worsens.

File image of the Supreme Court in Caracas. 28 June 2017

The Supreme Court in Caracas was the target of the attack photo: REUTERS

Those opposed to the government say they are determined to keep protests going until fresh elections are called and the government is ousted.

More than 70 people have been killed in protest-related violence since 1 April, according to the chief prosecutor’s office.

Could this have been a coup attempt?

Although President Maduro called the incident an attack by “terrorists” seeking a coup it is not clear how much support, if any, the police officer has.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Maduro reiterated his allegations that the US was supporting coup attempts against his government and warned President Donald Trump that Venezuela would resist such a move.

On Monday, he announced that five people had been arrested, accused of plotting against him and preparing for a US invasion.

Supporters of President Nicolás Maduro hold posters of former President Hugo Chávez during a demonstration in Caracas on August 3, 2013.

Hugo Chávez is still a popular figure among supporters of Nicolas Maduro photo: GETTY IMAGES

However, Venezuela certainly has a history of coup attempts:

  • In 1992, the late Hugo Chávez tried to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Pérez. The attempt failed and Chávez was arrested and imprisoned. He would eventually be elected president in 1998
  • In 2002, Chávez himself survived an attempted coup by rebel military officers
  • Months later, security officials foiled another attempt by leading political and military opposition figures

Source: BBC

Queen Elizabeth to get £6m ‘pay rise’

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The Queen is to receive an 8% increase in income from public funds, after the Crown Estate’s profits rose by £24m.

The Sovereign Grant, which pays for the salaries of her household, official travel and upkeep of palaces, is to increase by more than £6m in 2018/19.

It comes as accounts revealed the Queen’s official net expenditure last year increased by £2m, to almost £42m.
Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the Queen represented “excellent value for money”.

He said: “When you look at these accounts, the bottom line is the Sovereign Grant last year equated to 65p per person, per annum, in the United Kingdom.

“That’s the price of a first class stamp.

“Consider that against what the Queen does and represents for this country, I believe it represents excellent value for money.”

The Queen and the Royal Family’s official travel cost the taxpayer £4.5m during 2016/17, up £500,000.

Clarence House has also released its annual accounts, which showed the Prince of Wales’ annual income from his hereditary estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, increased by 1.2% – to £20.7m.

Royal accounts – some key figures

£82.2m – Amount the Queen is expected to get from the Sovereign Grant in 2018/19

£4.5m – Cost of the Queen and the Royal Family’s official travel in 2016/17

£288,697 – Amount spent on the Royal Train travel for 14 trips

£1.2m – Cost of replacing doors on the orangery at Windsor Castle

–  £154,000 – Estimated cost of Prince Charles and Camilla using “Cam Force One” – the official government plane – to visit Italy, Romania and Austria earlier this year

The Sovereign Grant, which is paid two years in arrears, is money given to the Queen by the Treasury.

It is based on the profits of the Crown Estate portfolio, which includes much of London’s West End.

The Crown Estate posted a £24.7m rise in profits, to £328.8m, in 2016/17.

Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, published its own report on royal expenses.

It said that once security and other costs were included, the annual bill for the monarchy was nearer £345m.

Graham Smith, the organisation’s chief executive, said it was a “massive bill for the taxpayer” to support “privileged lifestyles”.

The increase in funding will take place as extensive repairs are being carried out at Buckingham Palace, costing £369m.

To help pay for the work at the palace, the percentage of the Crown Estate profits paid to the Queen will increase from 15% to 25% between 2017 and 2027.

Source BBC

‘Strippers’ visit S Africa prisoners

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The women were part of an entertainment act for inmates photo: DURBAN CRIME N ALL

Inmates at a South African prison known as Sun City were treated to “strippers” as part of an official event.

Pictures circulating on social media show two scantily-clad women in thigh-high boots pressing themselves up against orange suited men at Johannesburg’s Medium B prison.

On Monday, the Department of Correctional Services confirmed the veracity of the photos.

A full investigation was under way, James Smalberger told journalists.

“We can never tolerate what we have seen on the social media since Saturday,” Mr Smalberger, the acting national correctional services commissioner, said.

Thirteen officers are being suspended and will face the “full might of our code of conduct”, he added.

The 21 June event had been arranged as part of Youth Month celebrations – part of a programme which is meant to help with the rehabilitation of prisoners.

But the women – and their choice of clothing – took authorities by surprise.

Gauteng correctional services spokesman Ofentse Morwane told local news site TimesLive: “When the dancers arrived‚ we saw that they were wearing lingerie. They had some sort of strip show for the offenders.”

Pictures of the women entertaining the inmates began circulating on social media over the weekend, leading many to speculate that life was better behind bars than on the outside.

Two women wearing very little entertain an inmate

These pictures emerged on social media over the weekend photo: DURBAN CRIME N ALL

However, others were angry that the event had been allowed to go ahead.

Mr Smalberger assured the press conference that no taxpayers’ money had been spent on the women, who were brought into the prison by an external provider.

This was despite the authorities having rejected their original entertainment proposal, he said.

“It is not acceptable for female persons to appear like that in front of offenders,” he said.

“The management of the event should have never allowed, and immediately halted, this type of explicit entertainment, as pronounced by our policies.

“Therefore, there was a clear breach of the security plan that was provided for the event as well as other relevant policies and procedures.”

Source: BBC 

Trump travel ban injunction partly lifted

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The original ban in January provoked mass protests at American airports

US President Donald Trump has welcomed a Supreme Court ruling allowing his travel ban to be partly reinstated as a “victory for our national security”.

America’s highest court also granted a White House request allowing part of its refugee ban to go into effect.

The justices said they would consider in October whether the president’s policy should be upheld or struck down.

Mr Trump seeks to place a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.

The president welcomed the ruling’s qualified authorisation to bar visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which he described as “terror-prone countries”.

“As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm,” he added.

Mr Trump has already said the ban would take effect within 72 hours of court approval.

What does the ruling say?

The Supreme Court said in Monday’s decision: “In practical terms, this means that [the executive order] may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

“All other foreign nationals are subject to the provisions of [the executive order].”

The ruling also said it would permit a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the US to go into effect, allowing the government to bar entry to refugee claimants who do not have any “bona fide relationship” with an American individual or entity.

What does ‘bona fide’ relationship mean?

The ruling clarifies that those who would be deemed to have such a relationship would include a foreign national who wishes to enter the US to live with or visit a family member, a student at an American university, an employee of a US company, or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.

This would not apply, it said, to “someone who enters into a relationship simply to avoid [the executive order].

“For example, a non-profit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to client lists, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.”

Are there any divisions on the court?

Yes. Three of the court’s conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – wrote that they would have allowed the travel ban to go into full effect.

Justice Thomas said the government’s interest in preserving national security outweighs any hardship to people denied entry into the country.

Mr Trump restored a 5-4 conservative majority to the Supreme Court when his nominee, Justice Gorsuch, joined its bench in April.

There are five Republican appointees on the court and four Democratic appointees.

What did lower courts say?

The US president insisted his ban was necessary for national security amid a slew of terrorist attacks in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities. However, critics called the policy un-American and Islamophobic, and the lower courts broadly seemed to agree.

The president’s policy was left in limbo after it was struck down by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland days following its issuance on 6 March.

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said in May the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims.

The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said in June: “National security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power.”

Why did Trump revise the order?

The original ban, released on 27 January, provoked mass protests at American airports.

It included Iraq among nations whose travellers would be barred from the US, and imposed a full ban on refugees from Syria.

The president issued a revised version with a narrower scope on 6 March to overcome some of the legal problems.

But Mr Trump was unhappy about having to do so, calling it a “watered down, politically correct” version of the first one.

Source BBC

Akufo-Addo leaves for 3-day Zambia visit

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Since becoming president, Akufo-Addo has visited a number of African countries including neighbouring La Cote d’Ivoire

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has left Accra for a three-day visit to Zambia.

The visit is at the invitation of Zambian leader, Edgar Lungu, a statement from the presidency said on Monday.

The visit comes barely a day after the president made a short dash to Nigeria.

President Akufo-Addo is expected to hold bilateral talks with his Zambian counterpart, Edgar Lungu, while in the south African country.

The two African leaders are expected to deepen bilateral ties as well as explore areas of cooperation to the mutual benefit of their respective countries.

While in Zambia, Ghana’s leader will attend the 53rd Zambia International Trade Fair in the copperbelt province of Ndola, where he will be the Special Guest of Honour.

He is accompanied by wife Rebecca, Minister of Foreign Affairs Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and other government functionaries.

He is expected back home on Thursday.


Trump abandons White House Eid dinner

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) reportedly rejected a request to hold the annual dinner photo: REUTERS

US President Donald Trump has broken a nearly 20-year-old tradition by failing to host a dinner marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The White House event had been held every year since President Clinton’s tenure.

The Eid al-Fitr feast ends Ramadan, a period when Muslims fast and focus on charitable giving.

But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly rejected a request to hold a reception.

In May, Reuters said Mr Tillerson had refused a recommendation from the State Department’s office of religion and global affairs to organise a celebration.

Mr Trump has previously been criticised for his use of anti-Muslim rhetoric, including on the campaign trail when he called for surveillance of US mosques.

He said in a statement: “On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

“Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.

“During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honour these values. Eid Mubarak.”

Mr Tillerson also released a brief statement, sending “best wishes to all Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr”.

Former US President Barack Obama hosts the annual Iftar dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the East Room of the White House July 22, 2015

The dinner has been hosted by three successive presidents, including Barack Obama here in 2015 photo: GETTY IMAGES

The first presidential Iftar dinner (the name for a meal held after sunset, when Muslims break their fast), is said to have been hosted by Thomas Jefferson in 1805 for a Tunisian envoy.

The subject was covered in a blog post on a US Department of State website, IIP Digital.

The post, titled “Thomas Jefferson’s Iftar”, appears to have been removed, but is available in archived form here.

The idea of hosting a dinner was revived by Hillary Clinton in 1996, when she was First Lady.

It became an annual tradition from 1999 and was attended by prominent US Muslim leaders, diplomats and legislators.

Source: BBC

Trump accuses Obama of inaction on Russia

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Mr Trump said the Russian investigation should focus on the Obama administration

President Donald Trump has accused his predecessor Barack Obama of inaction over alleged Russian interference in the US election in 2016.

Mr Trump said Mr Obama had learned well before the 8 November poll about the accusations and “did nothing”.

His comments followed an article in the Washington Post which said that Mr Obama learned last August of President Vladimir Putin’s “direct involvement”.

The alleged meddling is the subject of high-level investigations in the US.

President Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian interference into the presidential election.

The Washington Post article says Mr Obama was told early last August by sources deep within the Russian government that Mr Putin was directly involved in a cyber campaign to disrupt the election, injure Hillary Clinton and aid a Trump victory.

The Post said Mr Obama secretly debated dozens of options to punish Russia but in the end settled on what it called symbolic measures – the expulsion of 35 diplomats and closure of two Russian compounds. They came in late December, well after the election.

The Post reported that Mr Obama was concerned he might himself be seen as trying to manipulate the election.

The paper quoted a former administration official as saying: “From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, ‘Wow, did we mishandle this’.”

Measures Mr Obama had considered but which were not put into action included planting cyber weapons in the Russian infrastructure and releasing information personally damaging to Mr Putin.

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday: “The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”

He followed that up with two more tweets on Saturday, the second saying: “Obama Administration official said they “choked” when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?”

He repeats the argument in an interview with Fox News, which will air on Sunday.

“If he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.”

Allegations of collusion between the Trump team and Russian officials during the election have dogged the president’s first five months in office.

He has repeatedly denied the allegations, calling the investigations a “witch hunt”.

US investigators are looking into whether Russian cyber hackers targeted US electoral systems to help Mr Trump win.

US media say special counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating Mr Trump for possible obstruction of justice over the Russia inquiries.

They involve the president’s firing of FBI chief James Comey, who led one of the inquiries, and Mr Trump’s alleged attempt to end a probe into sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Source BBC

GTMO detainee charged with bombing in Indonesia

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Two former G-bay detainees in Ghana

A US military court has charged an Indonesian detainee at Guantanamo Bay in connection with the 2002 bombing in Bali, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press news agency.

The detainee, known as Hambali, was also charged in connection with an attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003.

According to rules of the US military commission, a military court will later decide whether a trial will be held.

The October 12, 2002, Bali resort island attacks, which occurred near the US consulate, killed 202 people.

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a nightclub jammed with tourists at a popular beach, killing many instantly and forcing others to run outside.

Another suicide bomber detonated a massive bomb loaded in a car parked on the street in front of two clubs.

In the second bombing, which occurred on August 5, 2003, the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta was targeted because the building was conducive to the type of bomb that was being constructed.

The perpetrators believed there would be a large American presence at the hotel and they “believed it would have the biggest overall impact”, the charging documents said.

The August 5, 2003, car bomb in front of the hotel in Jakarta killed 12 people and wounded 150.

Last fall, a US government review board rejected the release of Hambali, saying he continues to be a “significant threat to the security of the United States”.

Hambali, whose real name is Encep Nurjaman, appeared before the board in August by video link, seeking his release after being held 10 years at the base without charge.

The Pentagon described him in a profile released before the hearing as a leader of the Southeast Asia-based Jemaah Islamiyah armed group. Hambali also is alleged to have had links to al-Qaida.

Hambali has been charged with murder and attempted murder in violation of the law of war; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; terrorism; attacking civilians; and related charges.

Australia’s reaction

Australia on Saturday welcomed the reported US charges against Hambali.

“I hope that should this prosecution succeed, it will bring closure to those devastated by the loss of loved ones, family and friends,” Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, said.

“It has been a scar on the hearts of all Australians since these attacks occurred in 2002.”

For Australia, which suffered the most casualties, the Bali bombs were the worst peacetime attack on its citizens.

Seven Americans and 38 Indonesians citizens were also among the dead.

Bishop said Australia would provide whatever support it could, but did not support the death penalty.

“Those responsible for the murder of 202 people, including 88 Australians, should be prosecuted, should receive the severest of punishment and should never be freed,” she said.

Source: AP

At least 120 missing in China landslide

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Medical staff joined the search in the hope of assisting any survivors

More than 120 people are missing after a landslide in Sichuan province in south-western China, state media say.

About 40 homes were destroyed in Xinmo village in Maoxian county, after the side of a mountain collapsed at about 06:00 local time (22:00 GMT Friday).

Rescue teams are frantically searching for survivors trapped beneath rocks dislodged by hours of heavy rainfall. Five people are confirmed dead.

President Xi Jinping urged rescuers to “spare no effort”.

A couple and a baby were rescued and taken to hospital after teams of workers used ropes to move large rocks, AFP news agency reports, citing local authorities.

Qiao Dashuai told CCTV the baby had woken them and when they came to the door of their home they were swept away by water. He said his parents and other relatives were still missing.

An earlier toll of 141 missing people has now been revised down by state media.

The landslide blocked a 2km (1.2-mile) stretch of a river, Xinhua news agency reported.

Local police told state broadcaster CCTV a lack of vegetation in the area had made the landslide worse.

Local officials said some 8m cu m (282m cu ft) of rock had been dislodged.

Roads in the county were closed on Saturday to all traffic except emergency services, the news agency said.

Landslides are a regular danger in mountainous regions of China, especially during heavy rains.

In 2008, 87,000 people were killed when an earthquake struck Wenchuan county in Sichuan province. In Maoxian county itself, 37 tourists were killed when their coach was buried in a landslide caused by the earthquake.

Source: BBC

Hundreds of homes evacuated in London over fire risk fears

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More than 700 flats in tower blocks on an estate in the Swiss Cottage area of north-west London have been evacuated because of fire safety concerns.

Camden Council said people in four towers on the Chalcots estate were moved for “urgent fire safety works”.

The council added it was booking hotels but around 100 residents have spent the night on air beds in a leisure centre.

The estate’s cladding is similar to Grenfell Tower in west London, where a fire is feared to have killed 79.

Chalcots was refurbished between 2006 and 2009 by the same firm, Rydon, that oversaw work at Grenfell Tower in 2015-16.

Camden Council said it will remove external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots estate.

It also said there were concerns about the insulation of gas pipes going into flats, and fire doors.

The council initially announced the evacuation of one tower block, Taplow, but later extended the move to all five tower blocks it had checked.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, the council then announced that one of the five – Blashford – did not need to be evacuated, and residents could return.

Blashford is smaller and has “several different design elements”.

Residents of the estate attended a public meeting with council officials on Thursday evening.

The council’s Labour leader, Georgia Gould, said the decision to evacuate the buildings was made at 18:30 BST on Friday.

She said the fire service “told us they could not guarantee our residents’ safety in those blocks”.

Some residents said the first they heard of the evacuation was on the news.

The council has secured 270 hotel rooms so far. Emergency accommodation was set up at Swiss Cottage leisure centre and at the Camden Centre in King’s Cross.

“We’re encouraging all residents to stay with friends and family if they can, otherwise we’ll provide accommodation,” the council said.

“I know it’s difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don’t believe we can take any risk with our residents’ safety and I have to put them first,” Ms Gould said.

She said the work is expected to take three to four weeks. Residents will be allowed in at the weekend to collect more possessions under escort from the fire brigade.

Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: “My thoughts are with residents being evacuated in Camden while their homes are made safe tonight.”

She said the government was “offering every support we can” to residents and officials working at the estate.

Speaking to the Press Association, resident Michelle Urquhart said: “It’s a bit frightening.

“I don’t know where we are going to go. I’m so angry because we had the meeting with the council last night and they tried to reassure us.

“We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding.”

Teacher Kim Price, who lives in Blashford tower with her 14-year-old son, said: “At 4pm today they said it would be okay and that all the checks were fine.

“And now all of a sudden the news is saying we should get out.

“We’ve had two letters in two days saying ‘you’re not safe’ then ‘you’re safe’. I don’t really know what to do.”

Edward Strange, who lives in an 11th floor flat with his wife and young daughter, said the evacuation was a “complete overreaction”.

He told the BBC there had been two previous fires in the block which were easily contained.

“I’ve got a young daughter, a wife and a cat, I’ve also got a job. They said it’d take four to six weeks. If the council says four to six weeks it’ll take four to six months.”

Ahmed Mohamed, 19, who lives in Taplow tower with his parents and two sisters, said they were alerted by a neighbour at 20:15 BST that they needed to leave.

“We only had five minutes to get our stuff,” he said.

Bob O’Toole, chair of Chalcots Estate residents’ association, told BBC Breakfast that contractors had been working overnight in several of the tower blocks.

“A lot of people are annoyed because of the way [the evacuation] was done. They’re saying it was left too late in the evening. But Camden Council didn’t get the information till late, and they acted on that as quickly as possible.”

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said other areas, such as Plymouth and Manchester, had seen measures introduced such as 24-hour fire wardens and did not need evacuating.

“What was very different here is that the local fire service found multiple other failures in fire safety that should have already been in place in the towers, and as a result of that, they’ve made this quite correct decision.”

Mr Javid also said the government would “work with” any local authorities and housing associations that needed financial support to carry out necessary fire safety work in tower blocks.

“Public safety is absolutely paramount, you cannot put a price on people’s lives. So local authorities have to do whatever it takes to get their buildings safe.”

Camden Council agreed a contract with Rydon Construction to refurbish the Chalcots estate in May 2006 at a cost of £66m.

The work took more than three and a half years. Five towers received new cladding, and 711 flats were modernised with new wiring, heating, kitchens and bathrooms.

Friday night’s announcement came as the Metropolitan Police said the Grenfell

A national operation to identify buildings with cladding similar to that used in Grenfell Tower has seen local authorities send samples for independent tests.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said 14 residential high-rise buildings in nine local authority areas have now been found with cladding that raises safety concerns.

Source BBC