At least 240 migrants may have drowned off the coast of Libya this week after two boats capsized in the Mediterranean Sea along a common smuggling route to Europe. Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish aid group, said it has already recovered five bodies and fear they will recover hundreds more. These kinds of boats are often overloaded. According to latest figures from the International Organization for Migration, 525 migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year in an attempt to reach Europe—most commonly to Spain, Italy, and Greece. Nearly 4,000 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean last year.
—Metropolitan Police have identified the alleged London attacker as Khalid Masood. Prime Minister Theresa May has told the U.K.’s House of Commons he was British-born and was known to both the police and the country’s intelligence services. More here.
—Israeli police arrested a 19-year-old Israeli-U.S. dual citizen in connection with the threats made against Jewish centers in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and other countries over the past six months. More here
—The U.S. House of Representatives delayed votes today on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican-sponsored legislation that would significantly roll back parts of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. President Trump and members of his administration personally lobbied lawmakers to vote for the AHCA, but the bill faces opposition from Tea Party-allied Republicans. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Hundreds of Migrants Feared Dead in the Mediterranean
Antwerp Police Arrest a Man Who Tried to Drive His Car in a Crowded Pedestrian Area
Belgian police say they detained a man who tried to drive his vehicle at a high speed in the pedestrian shopping area in Antwerp. “At about 11 a.m. … a vehicle entered De Meir [street] at high speed due to which pedestrians had to jump away,” a police spokesman said at a news conference. The vehicle had French plates, he said. The driver has been arrested and security increased in Antwerp. The incident occurred a day after an assailant in London drove his vehicle over Westminster Bridge, striking pedestrians, before stabbing a police officer to death. Two others were also killed in the attack near the U.K. Parliament. Police shot the attacker dead.
Israeli Police Arrest an Israeli-American Citizen in Connection With Threats Against Jewish Centers
Israeli police arrested a 19-year-old Israeli-U.S. dual citizen in connection with the threats made against Jewish centers in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and other countries over the past six months, Israeli police said. Police said they worked with the FBI and police organizations in other countries to identify the suspect. The Jerusalem Post adds: “[S]ources indicate that most of the cases of threats against Jewish communities and organizations, though not all, led investigators back to Israel.” The investigation, the newspaper added, began after a first threat was reported in New Zealand around six months ago. Israeli officials did not immediately identify the suspect. He was expected to appear in court later today. Earlier this month, a former journalist named Juan Thompson was arrested in the U.S. in connection with some of the threats made against Jewish centers. Jewish community centers in the U.S. have reported more than 100 bomb threats since January. My colleague Emma Green has more on this story here
House of Representatives to Vote Today on Trump-Backed Health-Care Measure
The U.S. House of Representatives votes today on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican-sponsored legislation that would significantly roll back parts of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, which is also called Obamacare. President Trump has personally lobbied with lawmakers to vote for the AHCA, but the bill faces opposition from Tea Party-allied Republicans, and it’s not entirely clear if it will pass. Democrats uniformly oppose it. Even if the measure passes the House, it’s unlikely to be approved by the Senate, where it faces bipartisan opposition. My colleague Russell Berman wrote about the challenges the AHCA faces in the House:
The bill guts Obamacare’s insurance mandates and repeals most of its tax increases, but it leaves key parts of its architecture in place. As the GOP plan barrels toward a House vote on Thursday, conservatives are urging Speaker Paul Ryan to agree to changes that would strip out Obamacare’s requirement that insurance plans cover certain “essential health benefits,” which include maternity and newborn care, mental health treatment, and preventive services.
Read his piece here.
U.K. Prime Minister Says London Attacker Was British-Born and Known to Authorities
Prime Minister Theresa May has told the U.K.’s House of Commons the London attacker was British-born and was known to both the police and the country’s intelligence services. The attacker had been investigated over violent extremism, but was seen as a “peripheral figure,” she said. Eight people have been arrested in connection with the attack that killed three people. The attacker was also shot dead by police. Forty others were injured. The attacker drove a vehicle over Westminster Bridge, striking people, and then used a knife to attack a police officer near Parliament Square. That officer died. He was identified as Keith Palmer, a constable. A second victim was identified as Aysha Frade, 43, who taught Spanish at DLD College in London. The third victim has not been identified. The attacker has not been publicly identified.
We’re following the latest developments on Thursday’s attack in our live blog here.