Thursday 22 March 2018

World in brief: Five British troops killed after their helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

Five British troops were killed yesterday when a military helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan.

It was the deadliest air disaster for UK service personnel in a war zone for almost eight years and took the total number of British casualties in the country to 453. The helicopter, believed to have been a Lynx Mk9, crashed yesterday morning in Kandahar province. Last night, the Taliban claimed responsibility for bringing it down. However, UK Ministry of Defence sources said early indications were that it had not come under attack and may have crashed as a result of mechanical failure.


The body of a British teenager has been found by the road in a Colombian forest, after he took part in a "shaman experience" advertised for tourists.

His family have said that Henry Miller, 19, from Kingsdown in Bristol, south-west England, took part in a local tribal ritual, drinking a herbal concoction known as yage and apparently suffering a fatal reaction to the hallucinogenic infusion.

Reports suggest that he was with a group of foreign tourists – all of whom had paid $50 for the experience and who drank the brew together – but who were ushered back to their lodgings when Mr Miller took ill.

His body was later reportedly found on the side of the road, possibly having died while being taken to hospital by two young locals. Yage, also known as ayahuasca, is legal and is made by infusing leaves of several different plants. It has been used for centuries by native people in South America for healing and spiritual purposes. It is said to bring on visions, but it can also cause vomiting, diarrhoea and psychological distress and is recommended to be taken only in the presence of a respected shaman.


Kim Philby, one of Britain's most notorious traitors, said he had no regrets about betraying his country – only about any mistakes he might have made along the way.

Speaking from beyond the grave, his voice recorded during a talk he gave for KGB officers in 1977 – 14 years after defecting to the Soviet Union – Philby is heard saying: "There is an awful lot of work for us to do it seems. I have no regrets whatsoever about the past, just the mistakes I made doing it." Quoting the Russian revolutionary Felix Dzerzhinsky, he closes his speech in Russian: "If I had a chance I would do it all again. I would do it exactly the same way."

The recording was played for the first time at a conference held yesterday at Cambridge University.


Investigators are preparing to widen the seabed scan for missing Malaysian Air Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean after family members, frustrated by a lack of information, detained airline employees sent to meet with them.

An unmanned submarine started its 14th mission yesterday after being pulled from the water the previous day to fix a software fault that hampered the search for wreckage. The Bluefin-21 has combed 95 per cent of an initial target area centred about 1,584km north-west of Perth, and will widen the zone if nothing is found, Australia's Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre said.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said any unity government with the Islamic militant group Hamas would follow his political programme, an apparent attempt to reassure the West.

Mr Abbas spoke yesterday to the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, two days after Israel halted negotiations with the Palestinians over a reconciliation deal between Mr Abbas and Hamas.

Israel's leaders accused Mr Abbas of choosing Hamas over possible peace with Israel. However, the suspension came at a time when talks were close to collapse and had achieved no results after nine months. The Abbas-Hamas deal envisions an interim government in a month and general elections by winter. Mr Abbas says any unity government would work "under my orders and my policy".


Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming that Germans deny that Nazi-run death camps ever existed.

Mr Berlusconi was presenting his party's candidates yesterday in Milan for the European Parliament elections when he mentioned a 2003 gaffe he made comparing now Parliament president Martin Schulz to a concentration camp guard. He said he didn't want to offend Mr Schulz, then added: "the Germans, for them, concentration camps never existed." German minister Manuela Schwesig, on Twitter, called Mr Berlusconi's remarks "unspeakable" and urged a fight against right-wing "populism".

Sunday Independent

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