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Hurt and shame over Grace’s killing

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New Zealand’s prime minister has spoken of an “overwhelming sense of hurt and shame” over the killing of Grace Millane.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s words come just hours after a 26-year-old appeared in a New Zealand court charged with murdering the British backpacker.

Ms Ardern said: “Firstly, I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they will be experiencing and feeling right now.

“From the Kiwis I have spoken to there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality… especially to those who are visiting our shores.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
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PM Jacinda Ardern apologises to Grace’s family, saying ‘your daughter should have been safe here’

“On behalf of New Zealand, I would like to apologise to Grace’s family, your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that.

“My thoughts and prayers are with her father David who is in the country, and her mother who cannot be here, and her wider family and friends and loved ones.”

Ms Millane’s body was found in an area of bush in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges on Sunday.

The man’s appearance at Auckland District Court was brief and he has yet to enter a plea to the charge of murdering the British backpacker between 1 and 2 December.

Ms Millane was staying at the Base backpackers hostel in central Auckland prior to her disappearance
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Ms Millane was staying at the Base backpackers’ hostel in central Auckland

The suspect’s lawyer, Ian Brookie, applied for name suppression, saying it was needed for a fair trial.

Judge Evangelos Thomas rejected this argument on the basis of open justice.

Brookie said he would appeal, meaning the man’s identity is temporarily suppressed.

Ms Millane’s father David is in New Zealand and, along with other family members, was in court as Judge Thomas addressed them.

In comments reported by Radio NZ, the judge said: “I’d like to acknowledge the presence of Grace’s family.

“I don’t know what we say to you at this time.

“Your grief must be desperate.

Judge Evangelos Thomas makes remarks on December 10, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand
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Judge Evangelos Thomas spoke to Grace’s family during the hearing

“All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace.

“That will not be happening today, there will be no judgement today. It is important there is no judgement today.

“There will be in all likelihood a number of procedural issues we need to deal with today.

“Those are all part and parcel of a process that has judgement as its end goal, not its starting point.”

New Zealand police have released an image of a red Toyota Corolla that forms part of their murder investigation
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Police released an image of a Toyota Corolla that forms part of their investigation

The suspect stood dressed in a blue boiler suit and was told he was being remanded in custody until his next appearance on 23 January.

As the accused was walked out of court, a person in the public gallery yelled: “Scumbag”.

Ms Millane’s death comes just weeks after she had left her home in Wickford, Essex, to see the world.

After more than a month in South America, she had arrived in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, on 20 November.

https://www.facebook.com/michael.millane.9
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Grace Millane was described by her father as ‘fun-loving, outgoing and family-orientated’

She was last seen entering a central city hotel with a man more than a week ago and police were called after her regular pattern of communication with family was stopped.

Detectives have released images of a red Toyota Corolla hatchback and have asked anyone who saw the vehicle on Monday 3 December between 6.30am and 9.30am to contact them.

The car was rented in central Auckland on Sunday and later found in Taupo, in the centre of the North Island.

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Thirty injured as 1,000 firefighters battle wildfires in Portugal | World News

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More than 1,000 firefighters are tackling wildfires spreading in east Portugal, which have injured 30 people.

Homeowners tried to protect their properties from the huge fires with buckets of water and hosepipes as strong winds fanned the winds on Sunday.

Portugal’s Civil Protection Authority said more than 1,150 firefighters were working to contain the blazes, which broke out on Saturday across three fronts in the district of Castelo Branco, 124 miles (200km) north east of the capital Lisbon.

A firefighter passes while a wildfire burns the forest at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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There are 1,000 firefighters working to contain the blazes
Villagers help to put out a forest fire at the small village of Colos, Portugal
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Villagers help to put out a forest fire at the small village of Colos, Portugal

Authorities said one injured civilian was taken to hospital and is in a serious condition after suffering first and second-degree burns.

Villages and fluvial beaches were evacuated as a precaution and 30 people are known to be injured.

Firefighters were being supported by 10 firefighting aircraft as well as hundreds of vehicles.

Some houses were affected by the fires but Portugal’s Civil Protection did not provide a specific number.

A villager holds a hose as a wildfire comes close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Villagers have tried to keep the flames away from their homes
A firefighters tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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A firefighter tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao

“The fire is out of control, without resources on the ground, and the population at risk,” Vasco Estrela, the mayor of Macao, told Portuguese radio station TSF. “We never thought we would live through this again.”

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the Portuguese president, said he would be in contact with the mayors in the affected areas.

A statement on the presidential website said: “Aware of adverse weather conditions, the President of the Republic conveys all solidarity to the men and women who fight them, as well as to the most directly affected populations, accompanied by all the Portuguese.”

Strong winds have made it more difficult for firefighters to tackle the blaze, but authorities said they hoped to have them under control soon.

One wildfire made its way to Macao, an area in the district of Santarum, in western Portugal where temperatures reached 34C (93.2F) on Sunday.

A car burns near at the small village of Vila de Rei, Portugal
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A car burns near at the small village of Vila de Rei, Portugal
Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near the village of Vila de Rei
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Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near the village of Vila de Rei

Images broadcast by Portuguese TV channel TVI showed villagers in Macao trying to protect their houses and animals as smoke filled the air, forcing many to wear masks.

“(It will be) an afternoon of intense work,” Belo Costa, a Civil Protection official, told reporters.

Police have opened an investigation on the fires, with local authorities considering it unusual that all blazes had started in a narrow time frame between 2.30pm and 3.30pm local time on Saturday in the same area.

In a statement, police said that a 55-year-old man was detained on suspicion of starting a blaze in the Portuguese district of Castelo Branco.

A firefighter monitors the progression of a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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So far eight firefighters have been injured
A villager tries to put out the fire as it gets close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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A villagers throws water on the fire as flames creep toward his home

One resident said: “The wildfire came with force. We [the residents] had to fight the flames.”

He said there were not enough firefighters, a worry echoed by Ricardo Aires, the mayor of Vila de Rei which has been affected.

The army is sending 20 soldiers and four bulldozers to help with the operation.

A villages holds a hose as a wildfire comes close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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There have been no wildfire deaths since 2017
A firefighter tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The fires broke out on Saturday night

This is the first major wildfire in Portugal this year.

In 2017, 106 people were killed in some of the country’s deadliest fires on record.

The Portuguese government backed stronger firefighting prevention methods after the heavy death toll of that year and there were no wildfire deaths in 2018.

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UK to send 250 troops to Mali for dangerous peacekeeping mission | World News

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The UK is to send 250 troops to Mali in the biggest peace-keeping deployment since Bosnia and potentially the most dangerous mission for British forces since Afghanistan.

The soldiers will form a long-range reconnaissance task group, specifically chosen for their ability to operate in small teams and in violent, contested areas of the country.

They will be asked reach parts of Mali that most militaries cannot, to feed on-the-ground intelligence back to the mission headquarters in Gao. They will arrive in the country early next year.

A UN armoured vehicle
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A UN armoured vehicle

“They will do the part of the heavy lifting. They will do the operations in very contentious areas… where we have a great deal of uncertainty. They will do operations where we face threats to us and to the civilian populations,” the UN Force Commander Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre explained.

Although wearing the distinctive light blue UN helmets and deployed with a peace-keeping mandate, it’s privately acknowledged that they will likely be targeted by extremist groups fighting for power in one of the world’s poorest and most dangerous countries.

The British deployment comes as security in Mali and the wide Sahel region has deteriorated rapidly in recent months, causing thousands of people to be displaced and a dramatic spike in deaths.

A range of violent factions – some allied to al Qaeda – are vying for influence, and Islamic State in West Africa has successfully established a foothold in Mali.

Such is the concern within the British government that a Joint Sahel Task Group has been established in London to address the potential threats from what is known as the G5: Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Guard at a checkpoint outside Gao in eastern Mali
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Guard at a checkpoint outside Gao in eastern Mali

A regional hub has been set up in Dakar and two new British embassies will open in Niger and Chad. Close to £10m will be spent on security and humanitarian initiatives in the region this year.

Albeit relatively small, the deployment has been welcomed by the UN in New York and is being seen in the British government as one of the most significant military commitments since Afghanistan and the fight against Islamic State.

Two RAF Chinooks flying low over Mali delivering troops and equipment to French forces
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Two RAF Chinooks flying low over Mali delivering troops and equipment to French forces

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt travelled to Mali to make the announcement in person.

She said: “In one of West Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions it is right that we support some of the world’s most vulnerable people and prioritise our humanitarian and security efforts in the Sahel.”

France, with historical links in Mali, is the biggest military force in the country with more than 4,500 troops fighting Islamist extremists. The Paris government has paid a heavy toll for the five-year commitment, losing 15 soldiers and many more injured.

River Niger running through Bamako
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The River Niger running through Bamako

Three RAF Chinook helicopters and around 100 personnel have been operating with French forces in the north of the country since 2018, in a non-combat role. The Chinooks have provided valuable heavy-lift to the mission, a capability the French don’t have.

That commitment was recently extended by a further six months to June 2020, viewed as a gesture of Anglo-French goodwill post-Brexit.

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