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UK has ‘abandoned’ US-Briton held in Iran: Daughter

The UK government has “abandoned” Morad Tahbaz, an environmental campaigner held in Iran, his daughter said on Wednesday, a month after two other UK-Iranians were freed and returned.

Tahbaz, 69, who holds British, US and Iranian citizenship, remains in prison in Tehran while Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori flew home in March after the UK government repaid a historic debt to Tehran.

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The British government “led us to believe all this time that he was to be a part of any deal they were making for the other hostages,” Roxanne Tahbaz told AFP as she protested outside Britain’s foreign office in London.

“Yet he’s still there. He’s been abandoned by his government. And we have still yet to have any answers for that and a plan forward,” she said, holding a poster reading “Bring My Dad Home.”

Britain’s foreign ministry told Tahbaz’s family that when the other hostages were released, Iran had agreed to free Tahbaz on unrestricted curfew.

But Roxanne said that her father, who has been treated for cancer, was returned to Tehran’s Evrin prison within 24 hours of his partial release.

Officials from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s ministry have said that Tahbaz’s London-born father’s case was different because of his US nationality.

“The foreign office said that his situation was more complicated because the Iranians saw him as an American citizen,” Roxanne said.

“But we felt strongly that it wasn’t up to them actually, the UK should have stood their ground, he’s a British citizen. He was born here and that should have protected him.”

“We’ve been patient for four years, and quiet, just as advised, but we can’t wait any more,” she said.

Campaigners are also calling for British-Iranian labour rights activist Mehran Raoof, who was detained in October 2020, to be freed.

Amnesty International’s Sacha Deshmukh said he was at the protest outside Truss’s office “to send a message to the British government and to the foreign secretary that no one should be left behind.”

“The important thing for us to remember, whether it’s Mehran or Morad, or indeed Nazanin or Anoosheh when they were in prison before, is that we’re talking about ordinary people,” Amnesty UK’s CEO Deshmukh told AFP.

“They have nothing to do with politics. They have nothing to do with governments. These are ordinary people, ordinary British nationals who are held and our government needs to focus on their return,” he said.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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