Washington: President Donald Trump warned that soldiers deployed to the Mexican border could shoot Central American migrants who throw stones at them while attempting to cross illegally.
Trump told journalists at the White House that a group of several thousand migrants walking through Mexico towards the US border had thrown rocks “viciously and violently” at Mexican police.
“We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” he said.
“I told them (troops) consider it (a rock) a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexican military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”
Trump spoke during a presentation of his controversial policy on cracking down against what he says is uncontrolled illegal immigration.
Contacted for comment, Pentagon spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis said the military would not discuss hypothetical situations on the use of force “but our forces are trained professionals who always have the inherent right of self-defense.”
“I would also emphasize that our forces are in support of DHS/CBP, who are performing law enforcement activities,” he added, referring to the frontline Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.
Trump has ramped up the rhetoric daily ahead of next Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections, accusing the opposition Democrats of wanting to throw open the borders to floods of “tough people,” “rapists” and other types of threats.
The current focus of the president’s repeated claim to be acting against “an invasion” is the dwindling group of a few thousand impoverished migrants trying to get north, but still far from the US border.
Trump said that from now on, the United States will stop its policy of allowing people to claim political asylum at the border unless they have first gone through an official border post.
Those caught at the border will be held in tent camps or other facilities until they can be deported or have their requests approved, he said.
Critics say that such a radical rethink to asylum policies could violate current laws.
But Trump rejected this.
“This is totally legal. No, we’re stopping people at the border. This is an invasion, and nobody is even questioning that,” he said.
“We’ll be doing an executive order sometime next week,” he said, giving little further detail.
Despite Trump’s increasingly severe warnings of immigration chaos, the government on Wednesday issued figures saying that only about 400,000 people have been apprehended at the border in 2018, down from around 1.6 million in 2000.
Trump said he was not anti-immigrant but wanted immigration to be completely brought under control.
“Mass uncontrolled immigration is especially unfair to the many wonderful law-abiding immigrants already living here who followed the rules and waited their turn,” he said.
“Some have been waiting for many years. Some have been waiting a long time. They have done everything perfectly, and they are going to come in.”
Sri Lanka bombings death toll rises to 359, 18 more suspects held overnight
Colombo: Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58.
The prime minister warned that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.
Another top government official said the suicide bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre last month.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that purported to show the attackers. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.
UN says over 250 killed, over 1,200 injured in Libya battle
TRIPOLI: At least 264 people have been killed and over 1,200 wounded in weeks of fighting on the outskirts of Libya’s capital, the World Health Organisation said , as African leaders gathered in Cairo to discuss the crisis.
The agency called on Twitter for “a temporary cessation of hostilities, and for all parties to respect humanitarian law”.
Eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on the capital on April 4, as his self-styled Libyan National Army pledged “to purge the west of terrorists and mercenaries”.
Forces loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, launched a counter-attack at the weekend.
The fighting has since eased somewhat as both sides appeared to be preparing for the next phase of the battle.
Fighting in Tripoli’s southern suburbs has so far displaced at least 35,000 people, UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya Maria do Valle Ribeiro said on Monday.
“Displacement is continuing at an increasing rate every day,” she said, warning that the figures were a conservative estimate.
The two sides have reached a near stalemate since armed groups backing the GNA launched their counter-attack on Saturday.
An AFP team on the ground at the weekend confirmed that GNA-aligned fighters had pushed the frontline back several kilometres in the southern district of Ain-Zara, around a dozen kilometres south of the city centre.
Another frontline is a little further southwest, around the districts of al-Swani and Qasr ben-Ghachir, around 30 kilometres from Tripoli, on a key road between the capital and the old international airport.
Occasional bursts of gunfire — and heavier projectiles — have been audible, sometimes resonating in the city centre.
“It is calm on most fronts,” Mustafa al-Mejii, a spokesman for GNA forces, said.
“Orders were given to forces on the perimeter of Tripoli airport to consolidate their positions,” he said.
Haftar’s force said on its official Facebook page it had received “significant” reinforcements, particularly in the west.
Valle Ribeiro said civilians were being displaced every day, while some had been trapped by fire including “heavy artillery and… shelling in some densely populated parts of the city”.
“Any country that has leverage should be using that leverage to ensure that civilians can be protected,” she said.
African leaders were due to meet in Cairo at the behest of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss the violence.
Israel to name Golan settlement after Trump
JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to name a new settlement in the occupied Golan after US President Donald Trump in appreciation of his recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty there.
Netanyahu, who has been on a trip to the region with his family for the week-long Passover holiday, said in a video message that he would present a resolution to the government calling for a new settlement named after the US president.
“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he said.
Trump again broke with longstanding international consensus on March 25 when he recognised Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the part of the strategic plateau it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The decision came only two weeks ahead of a tightly contested Israeli election, which saw Netanyahu win a fifth term in office.
Trump has shifted US policy sharply in Israel’s favour since taking office, most notably by recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel annexed 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan it seized in 1981, a move never recognised by the international community.
Around 18,000 Syrians from the Druze sect — most of whom refuse to take Israeli citizenship — remain in the occupied Golan.
Some 20,000 Israeli settlers have moved there, spread over 33 settlements.