news

23-year-old Saskia Jones has been named as the second person killed in the London terror attack, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. “A huge void in our lives.” 23-year-old Saskia Jones has been named as the second person killed in the London terror attack.

Three of the five people who were killed or wounded in the London stabbing attack were former Cambridge University students or staff members.

The two fatalities have been identified as Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, who died in the attack on Friday near London Bridge.

“Both were graduates of the University of Cambridge and were involved in the Learning Together program, Jack as a co-ordinator and Saskia as a volunteer,” police said on Sunday.

Jones’s family described her as having “a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment program, wishing to specialise in victim support.

“This is an extremely painful time for the family,” they added. “Saskia will leave a huge void in our lives.”

London bridge attack 2019 victims
"Saskia will leave a huge void in our lives," her family said. Image: Facebook.

Merritt's father, David, shared to Twitter: "R.I.P Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog".

His family further said: "Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog."

London bridge attack 2019 victims
"Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation." Image: Twitter.
ADVERTISEMENT

One of the wounded was identified as a university staff member. The three survivors were not named. Officials said one was released from hospital on Sunday and the others are in stable condition.

The Learning Together program was designed to bring Cambridge University graduate students together with prisoners to study criminology in an effort to reduce stigma and marginalisation experienced by many inmates.

The gathering where the attack broke out had been meant to celebrate the fifth year of the program, university vice chancellor Stephen Toope said.

"What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative program, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act," Toope said.

The attacker, Usman Khan, was attending the event and had returned for the afternoon session when he started stabbing people. Police believe he acted alone.

Khan was a convicted terrorist who had secured early release from prison. He was shot dead by police after he was restrained by civilians. Police opened fire after he flashed what looked like a suicide vest but it turned out to be a fake device.

2. 10 people have been injured in a mass shooting near New Orleans' famed French Quarter.

US police are investigating a mass shooting that wounded 10 people near New Orleans' famed French Quarter.

Two of the 10 were in critical condition in local hospitals, Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said.

No arrests had been announced by midday on Sunday.

"What happened in our city overnight was a cowardly and senseless act that we cannot and will not tolerate," Ferguson said in a statement.

He told The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune that a person of interest has been detained but it was not immediately clear whether the person had any connection to the shooting.

The shooting happened about 3.20am on Sunday at a busy commercial block of Canal Street that has streetcar tracks and is near many hotels.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ferguson said police quickly responded to the scene as patrols were heightened for this weekend's Bayou Classic, the annual Thanksgiving weekend rivalry football game between Grambling State and Southern University at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"While this investigation is in the very beginning stages, one thing is certain - we will not stop until we identify and arrest those responsible," Ferguson said in his statement.

New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell also pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The shootings on Canal Street early this morning were an ugly disruption of an otherwise beautiful holiday weekend," she tweeted.

"We will do everything we can to wrap the victims and their families in our love and support, and to bring the criminals responsible to justice."

Kenneth Culbreth told The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune that he had gone into a pharmacy in the early morning hours to make a quick purchase.

Moments later, he walked out to a crime scene.

"On my way out of the CVS, I heard pops," Culbreth said.

"It was so many, I couldn't keep count."

Culbreth spent the rest of the morning watching the scene, with law enforcement and several emergency vehicles moving in and out at a rapid pace.

Police initially said 10 people were wounded. They later said 11 were wounded but the police department then sent a statement saying the correct number was 10.

3. A five-year-old girl from NSW has died after being left alone in a hot car.

ADVERTISEMENT

A five-year-old girl found in a car parked in the driveway of a home in NSW's Hunter region last week in searing weather has died in hospital.

The child was placed in an induced coma after being found unresponsive in the vehicle outside the Tanilba Bay house, in Port Stephens, about 4.30pm on Tuesday.

She died on Sunday morning, police said.

Temperatures hit 35C in the area on Tuesday afternoon.

Last weekend, two sisters - aged one and two - died inside a station wagon parked across the front yard of a family home in Logan, south of Brisbane.

Their mother, 27-year-old Kerri-Ann Conley, was charged with two counts of murder.

4. Freed Taliban hostage Timothy Weeks says he 'never lost hope'.

Freed Taliban hostage Timothy Weeks says he never gave up hope during his "long and tortuous" three years in captivity in Afghanistan.

Speaking in public for the first time since his release almost two weeks ago, Mr Weeks has thanked all those who helped secure his freedom.

The 50-year-old Australian academic had spent lengthy periods in the dark in tiny, windowless cells at remote locations after being grabbed outside Kabul's American University in 2016.

His long-awaited release in November followed six previous unsuccessful attempts by US Special Forces to free him, he told reporters.

Emerging from a dust cloud under the blades of a Black Hawk helicopter, a US Navy Seal took Mr Weeks under his arm as he led him to freedom.

ADVERTISEMENT

"From the moment I sighted both Black Hawk helicopters and was placed in the hands of Special Forces, I knew my long and tortuous ordeal had come to an end," he said in Sydney on Sunday, flanked by his sisters Jo and Alyssa Carter.

"Out of a big dust cloud came six Special Forces and they walked towards us and one of them stepped towards me and he just put his arm around me and he held me and he said, 'Are you ok?' And then he walked me back to the Black Hawk."

Moments earlier Mr Weeks had parted with his Taliban guards, even hugging some of them as they wished him well.

Speaking of previous rescue attempts, Mr Weeks said "a number of times they missed us only by hours".

One particular attempt in April had Mr Weeks fearing for his life as his captors brought him into an underground tunnel in the early hours of the morning, telling him Daesh (IS) had arrived, when in fact it was the Navy Seals "right outside our door".

Machine gun fire raged above and he at one point lost consciousness, having been pushed backwards and rolled into the tunnel.

It was nine months before he would finally become a free man.

He said he bore no hatred towards his captors, even respecting some of them whom he described as "compassionate, lovely".

Thanking those involved in his release, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Donald Trump, Mr Weeks said he has been changed completely by the experience.

"The time that I spent as a hostage with the Taliban has had a profound and unimaginable effect on me," he said.

His voice breaking, he said: "At times I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I love again but by the will of God I am here, I am alive and I am safe and I am a free. There is nothing else in the world that I need."

Despite the gravity of what he endured, Mr Weeks said he never lost hope .

"I had hope the whole time. I knew that I would leave that place eventually," he said.

Mr Weeks, a teacher from Wagga Wagga, arrived back in Australia on Thursday night after being transferred from a US military base in Germany.

His American colleague Kevin King, who was held hostage alongside him, is still undergoing treatment.

They were released in exchange for three members of the Taliban's Haqqani network, an offshoot responsible for several fatal Afghan attacks.

Mr Weeks said he felt "great joy" at the recommencement of peace talks between the US and Afghanistan governments and the Taliban.

ADVERTISEMENT

He appealed for privacy for his family, saying the ordeal had especially taken a toll on his father. He added that he hopes to return to academic study in the future but will take a well-deserved holiday first.

The experience has left him feeling "stronger", with a belief that he can get through anything.

"It's given me a great sense of hope and a great sense of confidence," he said.

Alyssa Carter said the emotional family reunion after almost 1200 days was "incredible", while Jo Carter said what her brother had been through was "unimaginable".

5. One of three people who have been missing in central Australia for almost two weeks has been found alive.

One of three people who have been missing in central Australia for almost two weeks has been found alive after police discovered their car bogged in a river bed.

Claire Hockridge, 46, Phu Tran, 40, and Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, had been missing from Alice Springs since November 19 when they told family and friends they were going for a drive.

They failed to return that night as planned.

Ms McBeath-Riley was found on Sunday and was being taken to Alice Springs Hospital to be treated for dehydration and exposure but her companions are yet to be located.

"Claire Hockridge and Phu Tran remain missing in the area and police will step up their search efforts in the hope of finding the pair before nightfall," Northern Territory Police said in a statement on Sunday evening.

The trio had been travelling in a white Mitsubishi dual cab Triton ute with South Australian registration plates. They had a Staffordshire bull terrier with them.

00:00 / ???