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King Charles III begins reign amid mourning

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King Charles III on Friday readied to address his mourning subjects on the first full day of his new reign as Britain and the world commemorated the extraordinary life of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

At 73, Charles is the oldest monarch yet to ascend the throne of the United Kingdom, following the death of his “cherished” mother at her Scottish estate of Balmoral on Thursday.

He was due to return to London from Balmoral, where the 96-year-old queen died “peacefully” after a year-long period of ill-health and decline, at the culmination of a record-breaking reign of 70 years.

“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the queen was so widely held,” Charles said in a statement.

One of the planet’s most recognisable people, she was the only British monarch most people alive today had ever known.

The tributes were universal, including from Russia and China.

New York’s Empire State Building was illuminated after sunset in silver and royal purple, while the Eiffel Tower in Paris dimmed its lights in tribute.

President Joe Biden described Queen Elizabeth as “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity”, and relayed the comforting words she gave when the United States was plunged into mourning on 9/11.

They were the same words chosen by the Daily Telegraph for its sombre front-page: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

Other British newspapers also printed special editions to mark the occasion. “Our hearts are broken,” headlined popular tabloid the Daily Mail.

The Mirror wrote simply: “Thank you.”

Charles’s inaugural address, set to be pre-recorded, was expected to be broadcast on Friday evening, part of 10 days of plans honed over decades by Buckingham Palace and the UK government.

The new king was also expected to hold his first audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was only appointed on Tuesday in one of the queen’s last official acts before her death.

Truss acclaimed the “second Elizabethan age”, five centuries after the celebrated first.

“We offer him (Charles) our loyalty and devotion just as his mother devoted so much to so many for so long,” she said in a televised address Thursday. “God save the king.”

Charles was also due to meet officials in charge of the elaborate arrangements for his mother’s lavish state funeral, which will be attended by crowned and elected heads of state from around the world.

He will decide on the length of the royal household’s period of mourning, which is expected to last a month, while the UK government will observe at least 10 days of official remembrance, when limited business is conducted.

Gun salutes — one round for every year of the queen’s life — will be fired Friday across Hyde Park in central London and from the Tower of London on the River Thames.

Muffled church bells will toll at Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle, among other places, and Union flags will fly at half-mast.

Truss and other senior ministers were set to attend a public remembrance service at St Paul’s, while the UK parliament will start two days of special tributes.

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Army captain announces takeover in Burkina Faso — second coup in 8 months

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Ibrahim Traore, army captain in Burkina Faso, has ousted Paul-Henri Damiba, the country’s military leader.

Traore announced the development in a national broadcast on Friday evening.

Earlier on Friday, TheCable had reported that heavy gunfire was heard from the main military base and some residential areas in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital.

A number of armed soldiers had also been positioned along the road leading to the presidential palace.

However, Damiba, in a statement via the presidency’s Facebook hours later, said the incident was the result of mood swing of soldiers, adding that people should not panic over what they are reading on social media.

He had also said discussions were underway to restore calm.

Traore, in a national broadcast on Friday, cited Damiba’s inability to deliver on his promises as the reason for the coup.

“Faced with the deteriorating situation, we tried several times to get Damiba to refocus the transition on the security question,” he said.

“Damiba’s actions gradually convinced us that his ambitions were diverting away from what we set out to do. We decided this day to remove Damiba.”

According to Traore, Damiba had rejected proposals by the officers to reorganise the army and instead continued with the military structure that had led to the fall of the previous government.

He added that national stakeholders will soon be invited to adopt a new transitional charter and designate a new civilian or military president.

He also announced that borders were closed indefinitely and all political activities were suspended.

The development makes it the country’s second coup in eight months.

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WhatsApp, Instagram access restricted in Iran as anti-hijab protests enter 6th day

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Access to Instagram and WhatsApp have been restricted in Iran following escalating “anti-hijab” protests which have now entered the sixth day.

The protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, who was said to have been arrested on September 13 for not wearing a proper hijab.

According to the BBC, the 22-year-old Amini died three days after her arrest and detention, and during her funeral, protests broke out.

Prior to the latest restrictions, Twitter and Facebook had been banned in Iran.

Netblocks, an independent non-partisan global internet monitor, also confirmed network restrictions.

“Users have also reported the disconnection or severe slowing of internet service in multiple cities since the first disruption was registered on Friday 16 September 2022,” NetBlocks said.

Also, WhatsApp, owned by Meta, has reacted to the reports of restrictions of its service in Iran.

“The core of our mission is to connect people privately. We are not intentionally disrupting access to our platform, nor are we blocking Iranian numbers. We do everything in our technical power to maintain our services and enable the use of all users in the world,” WhatsApp tweeted on Thursday.

According to a BBC report, Amini, a Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez, was arrested by the morality police after she was accused of breaking a law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab or headscarf.

She was said to have fallen into coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre.

According to a statement by the United Nations (UN), Nada al-Nashif, UN high commissioner for human rights, has called for an investigation into the death of the 22-year-old, adding that there are reports that she was beaten on the head with a baton.

“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth,” Al-Nashif said.

“The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules.”

The police have denied that the deceased was mistreated and said she suffered “sudden heart failure”.

But her family insists that she was in good health before the arrest.

The compulsory dress code for women, which requires them to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothes, came into effect in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Meanwhile, the “morality police” in the country are responsible for enforcing strict adherence to the dress code.

Amid the restrictions to social media platforms, there have been videos of women burning their hijabs, while some have cut their hair in protest.

According to the Iran human rights organisation, as of Thursday, there have been “mass arrests”, while at least 31 civilians have been killed over the protests.

See some tweets on the protests below

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WATCH LIVE: Mourners wipe tears as UK pauses and falls silent at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral

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The crowd who have gathered outside Westminster Abbey and along Parliament Street fell silent as the funeral service for Queen Elizabeth II began, writes reporter Samuel Osborne.

Members of the public whispered to those next to them while others gently hushed children as the service was broadcast to the crowd over loudspeakers.

Many stood in quiet contemplation while others wiped away tears as they listened to the hymns and readings.

What must be hundreds, if not thousands, of people rose to their feet in London’s Hyde Park for the start of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, writes reporter Victoria Seabrook.

The chatter from earlier became hushed and most in the crowd stood with their hands together, listening to the service.

It is also striking how few people held up their phones to take photos or videos – now a familiar sight at big gatherings, especially music festivals.

Seeing everyone sitting down again gave a better sense of just how many people are here.

Other than the audio from the ceremony, booming through the speakers, it is staggeringly quiet for such a large crowd.

According to official figures, tens of thousands of people are there.

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