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An incident at Sweden’s security service headquarters led to the hospitalization of eight individuals, including police officers, following reports of an unusual smell and subsequent evacuation of around 500 people. Initially thought to be a gas leak, authorities later confirmed no gas was detected. Police are investigating the cause, with speculation of phosgene detection, though unconfirmed.

Phosgene, a chemical used in plastics and pesticides and infamous from World War One, was suspected. Emergency services responded promptly, with roads closed and barriers erected. Six individuals were hospitalized for breathing issues, including police officers who detected the smell. Evacuation measures were extensive, with nearby schools and residences affected.

The incident concluded without further incident, coinciding with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s visit to Hungary, where Sweden’s Nato membership ratification is pending.

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Firefighters and forensic experts in Spain have reported the recovery of nine bodies from the wreckage of a 14-floor apartment complex in Valencia after a fire ravaged it. Initially, authorities stated that 10 people had perished, but later revised the number, indicating one person was missing.

The rapid spread of the flames, believed to have originated on the fourth floor of one of the blocks, was attributed to both the cladding affixed to the exterior of the building and strong winds. The fire engulfed the structure within minutes, hindering firefighters’ efforts to reach beyond the 12th floor due to the swift combustion facilitated by the cladding.

Investigations highlighted the cladding, which was permitted under building regulations at the time of construction in 2008 but has since been prohibited, as a potential cause for the fire’s rapid escalation. Despite its ban, there was no initiative to remove the hazardous cladding, contrasting with measures taken in the UK after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Amidst the devastation, acts of bravery emerged, including the efforts of a caretaker named Julián, who courageously attempted to evacuate residents as the fire spread. Individuals recounted harrowing experiences of escaping the inferno, with some sustaining injuries. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and other officials pledged support for the affected families and communities.

Efforts to aid those displaced by the fire are underway, with initiatives to provide housing and essential supplies. The local community has rallied to offer assistance, with donations pouring in for the survivors. In a gesture of respect for the victims, a La Liga match scheduled for Saturday has been postponed. Valencia FC expressed condolences for the tragedy that befell the city.

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In the Netherlands, a tragic incident occurred in Lochem where two workers lost their lives and two others were injured during the construction of a bridge. The collapse happened when cables supporting a bridge arch snapped, causing it to plummet to the ground. The deceased workers were identified as one from Belgium and the other from Poland, but further details such as their names and ages were not disclosed.

The collapse, labeled as an “industrial accident” by officials, prompted an ongoing investigation to determine its cause. Witnesses, including onlookers, were deeply affected by the sudden collapse and are receiving psychological support.

According to one witness, the collapse occurred shortly after the arch began swinging, followed by a loud bang. The bridge was intended to span a major canal as part of a new ring road project in Lochem, Gelderland.

Mayor Sebastiaan van ‘t Erve expressed shock over the incident, highlighting the extensive planning and development efforts over five years leading up to the construction. Despite this, the bridge collapsed in a single day, resulting in fatalities and injuries.

The exact cause of the collapse remains unclear, and investigations are ongoing. Local authorities confirmed that the injured workers were hospitalized but expected to recover.

Andre Meilink from the regional safety authority provided insight into the incident, explaining that the bridge began to twist as it was being lifted, leading to the collapse of a section.

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The family of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who recently died in a Russian prison, has reportedly been informed that his body will not be released for two weeks. According to a representative for Navalny, his mother was told that his body is being held for “chemical analysis”. Despite efforts to locate the body, there has been no confirmation of its whereabouts from Russian authorities, and attempts to find it have been repeatedly blocked. Navalny’s wife has accused Russian authorities of concealing his body and alleged that it is being held until traces of Novichok, the nerve agent used in a previous poisoning attempt on Navalny, disappear.

In a video statement, Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, accused President Putin of being responsible for her husband’s death and called on viewers to join her in seeking justice. Navalny’s death was announced on Friday, with authorities stating that he had never regained consciousness after collapsing during a walk in the Siberian penal colony where he was imprisoned. His mother and lawyer rushed to the colony upon hearing the news, but their attempts to locate the body have been thwarted by prison officials and local authorities.

The Kremlin has stated that an investigation into Navalny’s death is ongoing, but no results have been reported thus far. Navalny’s spokeswoman has said that investigators informed Navalny’s mother that the body would not be released for two weeks due to “chemical analysis”.

Western leaders have blamed President Putin for Navalny’s death and are considering imposing new sanctions on Russia in response. The UK Foreign Secretary has indicated that Britain and other G7 nations are likely to impose fresh sanctions on individuals implicated in Navalny’s death. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed these statements as “arrogant” and “unacceptable”, while Russian prison authorities have attributed Navalny’s death to “sudden death syndrome”.

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Yulia Navalnaya, widow of the Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, has directly accused President Vladimir Putin of bearing responsibility for her husband’s demise. Through a video shared on Navalny’s social media platforms, Navalnaya unequivocally stated that Putin had “killed the father of my children” and robbed her of her “closest and most beloved person.”

Navalnaya further criticized Russian authorities for allegedly concealing Navalny’s body, insinuating that they were attempting to obscure the true cause of death. She suggested that they might be waiting for any potential traces of a Novichok poisoning to dissipate, referencing Navalny’s previous poisoning with the nerve agent in August 2020. This incident had been later linked to an FSB hit squad, as uncovered by a joint investigation by CNN and Bellingcat.

Despite Navalnaya’s strong assertions, she did not provide any evidence to substantiate her claim that a second poisoning led to her husband’s recent death in an Arctic penal colony. The circumstances surrounding Navalny’s demise remain unclear, with the Kremlin acknowledging an ongoing investigation into the matter. As of now, the results of this investigation are yet to be determined.

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A former employee opened fire at a shipping company’s office near Athens, resulting in the deaths of three individuals. Reports indicate that the gunman, identified as a 70-year-old Egyptian national, fatally shot two men and a woman, including the company owner, before taking his own life with a hunting rifle. The incident, which began with the armed man entering the building and firing at employees, led to a hostage situation in Glyfada, a location about 12km south of Athens.

Despite efforts by police negotiators to resolve the standoff, the gunman ultimately ended his own life. Shootings are uncommon in Greece, which maintains strict gun possession laws, and this event has shocked the community. Glyfada is home to numerous Greek and international shipping companies, including European Product Carriers, which owns a significant fleet of vessels including oil tankers.

Eyewitnesses described the terrifying ordeal, with one company worker recalling hearing the gunshots and fleeing for safety upon learning about the attacker. The tragic incident underscores the potential risks and consequences of workplace violence, prompting reflection and concern within both the local and international shipping community. The authorities continue to investigate the motive behind the attack and any potential lapses in security measures that may have contributed to its occurrence.

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French prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation following actress Judith Godrèche’s complaint against filmmaker Benoît Jacquot, alleging historical rape. Godrèche, now 51 years old, claims that Jacquot, aged 77, raped her when she was just 14 in 1986, with subsequent offenses occurring during a relationship that extended into the 1990s. The complaint was officially submitted by her lawyer to the Juvenile Protection Brigade in Paris.

Godrèche, who gained recognition for her roles in Jacquot’s films such as “The Beggars” (1987) and “The Disenchanted” (1990), had previously hinted at their relationship in an autobiographical TV program titled “Icon of French Cinema.” Last month, she publicly identified Jacquot on social media after watching a documentary where he discussed his relationship with an adolescent.

In response to the allegations, Jacquot has firmly denied them, as stated in an interview with Le Monde newspaper. He has chosen not to provide further comment, reiterating his stance from the newspaper.

Godrèche, recognized for her performances in films like “The Overnight” (2015) and “The Spanish Apartment” (2002), has a notable career in French cinema. Meanwhile, Jacquot has been directing films since the mid-1970s, with his 2012 film “Farewell, My Queen” premiering at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.

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Italian junior culture minister Vittorio Sgarbi has resigned amidst accusations of laundering stolen goods, which he vehemently denies. The allegations center around the theft and alteration of a 17th-Century painting titled “The Capture of Saint Peter” by Rutilio Manetti, a follower of the Baroque master Caravaggio.

Sgarbi is specifically accused of modifying the stolen painting by adding a candle to the top corner, purportedly to obscure its provenance. He claims to have discovered the original artwork while restoring a villa owned by his mother more than two decades ago. According to Sgarbi, the stolen painting in 2013 was a mere copy, and the one he possesses is the authentic piece.

The controversy came to light through an investigation by the Italian TV broadcaster Rai, particularly the program Report. The stolen painting was reported missing from a castle in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, with the canvas cut out of its frame in 2013. Suspicion arose when a friend of Sgarbi, who had visited the property, expressed interest in purchasing the artwork. Additionally, the program reported that another acquaintance of the politician transferred a damaged version of “The Capture of Saint Peter” to a restorer, bearing a hole identical to the missing piece cut out in 2013. When Sgarbi exhibited the restored painting in 2021, it featured the added candle in the top corner.

In addition to the accusations related to “The Capture of Saint Peter,” Sgarbi faces legal scrutiny over another artwork—a painting attributed to the French artist Valentin de Boulogne, valued at €5m (£4.3m). This piece was seized by police in Montecarlo, and Sgarbi is being investigated for its alleged illegal export. He maintains that the seized painting is a copy and does not belong to him. Sgarbi’s resignation is framed as an effort to avoid a conflict of interest amid the ongoing investigations surrounding these art-related controversies.

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Hans-Georg Maassen, formerly in charge of countering neo-Nazis in Germany, is now under investigation for suspected right-wing extremism by the intelligence agency he led until 2018. Maassen revealed a letter from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) confirming the investigation, but the agency, citing data protection rules, cannot comment on individual cases. Maassen, critical of the inquiry, accuses Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of using intelligence services against political opponents.

The investigation points to Maassen’s alleged belief in far-right and antisemitic conspiracy theories, anti-migrant rhetoric, and a supposed sympathy for the far-right Reichsbürger movement. His tenure as head of domestic intelligence was marked by accusations of downplaying the far-right threat, and over time, he became known for extreme comments on social media. In 2018, he left office after questioning the authenticity of a video depicting xenophobic far-right violence in Chemnitz.

Maassen’s rhetoric has since intensified, with comparisons of migrants to cancer in an article titled “Chemotherapy for Germany.” Experts suggest he may have become radicalized, ironic given his previous role in combating radicalization.

Maassen recently confirmed that his new party, the Values Union, launched in January, is open to cooperation with the far-right AfD to gain power after upcoming regional elections. This departure from the established “firewall” against collaboration with the AfD signals a shift in German politics. Members of the Values Union attended a controversial November meeting where mass deportations were discussed, sparking nationwide protests against the far right with the slogan “We are the firewall.”

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A “dangerous object” discovered outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm has been destroyed by Swedish police, following what the Israeli ambassador labeled an “attempted attack.” The incident prompted a significant police cordon, though no injuries were reported. Authorities have not provided detailed information about the object, but it was described as a “live” device by embassy staff, leading to its assessment and subsequent controlled destruction by the national bomb squad.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, characterized the situation as “very serious,” and the country’s Security Service is actively investigating to determine those responsible. As a precaution, increased surveillance has been implemented around the embassy and Jewish institutions in the area.

The Israeli ambassador expressed gratitude for the swift action taken by the Swedish authorities, asserting that acts of terrorism would not intimidate them. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ebba Busch, expressed her dismay at the incident, highlighting the frightening level of hatred against Israel and calling for a concerted effort to stop violent extremism.

Police are currently conducting an investigation into the incident and have not yet identified the individuals or groups behind the placement of the suspicious device. The embassy, located in Stockholm’s affluent Ostermalm area, remains under scrutiny in the aftermath of the attempted attack.

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