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Christians Flee as ISIS Militants Attack Northern Iraq

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Agence France Presse

KIRKUK, Iraq: Jihadists have launched fresh attacks on Christian areas in north Iraq, sparking a new wave of displacement, the country’s Chaldean patriarch and witnesses said Wednesday.

Christians Iraq Conflict

Towns shelled in the past few days by Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants include Tal Kayf, Bartella and Qaraqosh, according to Christian sources.

The towns are among many in the area where thousands of Christians who were forced to abandon their homes in the main northern city of Mosul last month had found refuge.

Some of them are less than 50 kilometers away from Arbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako said at least one man had been killed by mortar fire, naming him as Lajin Hekmat, an employee of the main church in Tal Kayf, just north of Mosul.

A resident of Tal Kayf, Hanna Aziz Paulus, confirmed that the town had been targeted by shelling.

The town of Bartella had also been attacked by the jihadists, sparking an exodus, according to Sako.

“Bartella has seen the flight of many families in recent days,” he told AFP, adding the population had feared a major eruption of fighting following a jihadist offensive in the nearby Sinjar region.

Thousands of civilians, including from the Yazidi and other minorities, were forced to flee their homes at the weekend when ISIS militants ousted Kurdish peshmerga forces there.

Sako said he had this week sent a new message to Pope Francis demanding urgent mobilisation to protect one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

“Christians are isolated, afraid and aware that in the face of such a sudden development, anything can happen,” the patriarch said in his message.

 

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Key Moments from Trump’s Impeachment Hearing

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Trump's Impeachment
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Heartbreaking; Another School Shooting Santa Clarita, CA

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Santa Clarita School SHooting

Santa Clarita, California, high school shooting leaves 2 students dead, multiple injured

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) — A 16-year-old boy shot five fellow students, two fatally, Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita before turning the .45-caliber handgun on himself, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson said multiple 911 calls prompted firefighter-paramedics to respond about 7:40 a.m. to the school at 21900 Centurion Way.

Six students, including the gunman, were found in the quad suffering from gunshot wounds, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. All six were transported to hospitals, where two of them, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were later pronounced dead.

The surviving victims were described as two girls, ages 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy.

In a tweet, Henry Mayo Hospital said it had received four patients.

Their names were not immediately disclosed. The sheriff said the deceased girl’s parents were at the hospital. He was notified of the second fatality during a press conference at the school.

Gunman turns .45 caliber on himself

According to sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener, surveillance video “clearly” shows the suspect pulling a semi-automatic handgun out of his backpack in the quad and shooting five classmates before shooting himself in the head.

Thursday was the gunman’s 16th birthday, the captain said.

He was listed in grave condition at a hospital, according to Villanueva.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, authorities released a description of the suspect as a manhunt got underway. Heavily armed deputies and an armored SWAT vehicle were seen at a home near the school, but it was unclear if the house was connected to the investigation.

The high school remained on lockdown for hours after the incident. Shortly before 11 a.m., lockdowns were lifted at all campuses in the district, as well as Rosedell and Highland elementary schools.

Central Park, at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road, was being used as a reunification point for parents and students, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to parents, saying investigators need to interview “every student at Saugus HS” before they can be released.

In a statement, the White House said President Donald Trump was monitoring ongoing reports about the shooting.

“The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,” the statement said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted an expression of gratitude to the emergency responders.

“We simply should not have to fear for our kids’ lives when we drop them off at school,” the governor said. Addressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Newsom asked: “How many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”

Amid the chaos at the scene, the number of reported victims fluctuated throughout the morning. The sheriff later confirmed that six people were shot, including the gunman.


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WATCH: Trump’s Speech at the Economic Club of New York

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TRump's Econimc Speach Veterans DAy

Trump’s speech at the prestigious Manhattan club is expected to credit his policies for the strong economic numbers felt during his presidency.. Trump will likely highlight the low unemployment rate and high consumer confidence, as well as wage growth.

The president’s address is also expected to touch on his trade policies, the official said, amid continued negotiations over “Phase One” of a trade overhaul with China.

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