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Trump evacuated from briefing after shooting outside White House

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Washington: Secret Service guards shot a person, who was apparently armed, outside the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump said just after being briefly evacuated in the middle of a press conference.
The president was abruptly ushered out of the press event and black-clad secret service agents with automatic rifles rushed across the lawn north of the White House.

Minutes later, Trump reappeared at the press conference, where journalists had been locked in, and announced that someone had been shot outside the White House grounds.

The Secret Service tweeted that it “can confirm there has been an officer involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.”

“Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be, the suspect. And the suspect is on the way to the hospital,” he said.

Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, he answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.”

“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump added, saying the incident took place “on the outside” of the White House perimeter.

“I don’t believe anything was breached, they were relatively far away,” he added.

Outside the White House, the situation was calm, but a portion of the surrounding streets had been blocked off, with a number of police and other official vehicles converging towards the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Philipos Melaku, a protester who has been camping in front of the White House for years, said he had heard a shot fired at around 5:50 pm (2150 GMT).

“I heard a gunshot and before that I heard screaming,” he told AFP.

“It was a male voice,” he said. “After that immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men came in running.”

Following the security scare, Trump returned almost immediately to the White House podium where he resumed his scheduled press conference.

Asked if he was rattled by the incident, he replied: “The world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”

Trump went onto praise the Secret Service as “fantastic people, the best of the best.”

“I feel very safe with Secret Service,” he said. “A lot of terrific looking people ready to go if something was necessary.”

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Joe Biden, Kamala Harris sworn-in to lead new America

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Joe Biden is sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential inauguration at the US Capitol.

Democrat Joe Biden, a fixture in Washington for nearly a half century, was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th US President in a time-honored ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol.

Biden, at 78, becomes the country’s oldest leader ever after serving 36 years as a US senator and eight as vice president. He took the presidential oath of office, swearing to uphold the US Constitution and defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, on a chilly, wind-swept day.

Kamala Harris
Shortly before, Kamala Harris, a former US senator from California, the country’s most populous state, was sworn-in as vice president, becoming the highest ranking female official in more than two centuries of US history. She is of Black and Indian heritage.

In his inaugural address, Joe Biden said “The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve,” he added. Biden also emphasized that “unity is the path forward.”

Three former presidents attend
The swearing-in ceremonies were witnessed by three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton – but the country’s outgoing chief executive, former President Donald Trump, ignored 152 years of tradition of presidents attending their successors’ swearing-in ceremonies and left Washington early for his Atlantic coastal mansion in Florida.

Former US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama arrive before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington.

Crowd missing
Also missing was the vast crowd of thousands of well-wishers that is normal at US presidential inaugurations, both for security reasons and the fear that people jammed together on the National Mall in front of the Capitol would add to the soaring number of coronavirus infections in the US. Instead of people on the Mall, there were thousands of red, white and blue American flags whipping in the wind.

The usual throng of Washington dignitaries witnessing a presidential inauguration was sharply limited in the seats behind Biden and Harris, and their spouses — first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Chairs for the invited guests were widely spaced in line with coronavirus restrictions recommended by health authorities.

Extraordinary security
The ceremony was conducted amid extraordinary security, with tall metal fencing topped by razor wire surrounding the inauguration site after intelligence reports warned that Trump supporters angered by the congressionally certified outcome of the ex-president’s defeat could attempt to disrupt the ceremony.

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Blast in a multi-storey building in Madrid; Two killed and several injured

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Madrid: A bomb exploded at a multi-storey building in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The initial conclusion was that the gas leak was the cause of the explosion. Madrid Mayor Jose Luis has announced that two people have been killed in an accident. Several people were reportedly injured. Rescue work is progressing on the spot. The bomber struck shortly afternoon in front of a police station.

Madrid emergency services said they had deployed rescue workers, firefighters, and police at the scene. Nine fire crews and 11 ambulances were dispatched to the scene with hundreds of police and rescuers filling the street, which was completely closed off to traffic and pedestrians, AFP correspondents said. “At least four floors have been affected by the explosion in the building in Calle Toledo.”

A witness told local Madrid newspaper  that “everything shook like a bomb” and that “much of the facade has fallen.”

Local resident Leire Reparaz, 24, told the Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion: “We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke.”

Firefighters, police and specialized emergency workers were at the scene and and the surrounding area was evacuated. However, firefighters were reportedly unable to enter the building due to an ongoing fire.

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