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US Capitol Hill siege explained: How it happened and who were involved?

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NEW DELHI: On January 6, 2021, as the US Congress assembled to verify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed and occupied the US Capitol building.
The armed protesters clashed with the security personnel and vandalized the US Capitol forcing Mayor of Washington DC to announce a day-long curfew in the city.
As the sun set on the US Capitol, five were reported dead. The DC Police had seized weapons and arrested 52 people. More than 50 officers were reported injured.
Here is a breakdown of events for the day which is now termed as the “darkest day in American democracy”.

Here is all that happened at Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021:
1

Donald Trump addresses a rally

The rally by Trump supporters was organised to protest the vote count at the end of which Joe Biden was expected to be elected as the next President of the United States of America.

However, Trump supporters believed the election was rigged and that Donald Trump had won a second term.

Trump decided to address the rally. In his speech, he expressed his anger at the “big tech” whom he blamed for rigging the election and at the media for publishing fake news targeting him.

He thanked the crowd for assembling in his support. Trump said that the country “has had enough” and “we will stop the steal”, a phrase used by his supporters referring to Biden stealing the election.

In his speech, Trump quoted alleged evidence to substantiate his claims that the election was “stolen” from him.

At the end the President said, “..And I say this despite all that’s happened. The best is yet to come.”

“So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give.”

“So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

“I want to thank you all. God bless you and God Bless America.”

2

Demonstrators breach Capitol security

The protests continued after Trump’s address and the demonstrators walked to the US Capitol grounds past the Pennsylvania Avenue.

Upon reaching the Capitol building premises, the protesters breached past the gates and over-powered the security personnel to climb the stairs of the US Capitol.

The US Capitol is the meeting place of the nation’s legislature. While the Trump supporters were protesting outside the Capitol, inside the Congress was convening to validate Joe Biden’s presidential win.

The pro-Trump rally at this point turned into a siege as protesters roamed around the Congress corridors and ransacked the place.

3

The mob occupies US Capitol

The mob broke through the windows and the main doors on the east side of the Capitol’s central building, which leads into the Capitol Rotunda.

Dozens of Trump supporters moved freely within the Rotunda, and some of them vandalized the statues ringing the area.

A man carrying a large Confederate flag stood outside the Senate chamber.

At this point, the police had to barricade the House chambers and had started evacuating the lawmakers who were given gas masks.

Lawmakers and vice president Mike Pence mostly took shelter together near the , amid violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

The police said that more than 50 officers were injured during the riot, including some who were hospitalized.

4

How did the siege end?

The mob was on Capitol grounds for hours until they were cleared out by police.

Members of the National Guard from DC and Virginia were mobilized to prevent Trump supporters from entering the Capitol again.

Police seized five guns and arrested at least 13 people, while dozens of others were allowed to go free.

Later in the evening, DC Police said that 52 people had been arrested on the day after a citywide curfew went into effect at 6 pm.

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US issues terror alert over anti-government extremists

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WASHINGTON: The US Department of Homeland Security declared a nationwide terrorism alert Wednesday, citing the potential threat from domestic anti-government extremists after Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the department said.
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NSA Ajit Doval speaks to American counterpart Jake Sullivan

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NEW DELHI: National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Wednesday held a telephonic talk with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan during which he underlined that India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and global issues, including combating the scourge of terrorism and ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests.
“National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had a telephone call with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan on January 27. NSA Doval conveyed his best wishes to Sullivan on his appointment as National Security Advisor,” it said.
“Doval underscored that as leading democracies, with an abiding faith in an open and inclusive world order, India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including combating the scourge of terrorism, maritime security, cyber security and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” the MEA said in a statement.
It said Sullivan stated that the US was looking forward to working together on the bilateral agenda and the common global challenges.
“The two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations, which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests. They highlighted the need to work collectively to address challenges in the post-Covid era and further expand the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” the MEA said.
Earlier, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to defence minister Rajnath Singh and exchanged views on pressing regional and global issues, including developments in the Indo-Pacific.
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America's leadership is needed around the world, says Blinken

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WASHINGTON: Newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that America‘s leadership is needed around the world and vowed that the Biden Administration will provide it.
“The US has enormous sources of strength – and we will build upon them. America’s values are noble and powerful – and we will recommit to them,” Blinken said in his maiden address to the employees of the State Department soon after his arrival at its Foggy Bottom headquarters in downtown Washington DC.
“America’s leadership is needed around the world, and we will provide it, because the world is far more likely to solve problems and meet challenges when the US is there. America at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good,” he said.
A long-time aide of President Joe Biden, 58-year-old Blinken was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of State. Soon thereafter he was administered the oath by Carol Z Perez, the acting Under Secretary of State for Management.
Well aware of the challenges ahead, Blinken told the State Department that the world is watching the United States intently right now. “They want to know if we can heal our nation,” he said.
“They want to see whether we will lead with the power of our example… and if we will put a premium on diplomacy with our allies and partners to meet the great challenges of our time – like the pandemic, climate change, the economic crisis, threats to democracies, fights for racial justice, and the danger to our security and global stability posed by our rivals and adversaries,” Blinken said.
The American people are watching too, he noted. “They want to see that we are safeguarding their well-being, that we care about their interests, that our foreign policy is about them and their lives,” he said.
“We will do right by them – by pursuing a foreign policy that delivers real benefits to American families, protects their safety, advances their opportunities, honors their values, and leaves their children and grandchildren a healthier and more peaceful world. We have our work cut out for us. But I have no doubt that we will succeed,” Blinken said.
Honoured to begin work as the country’s 71st Secretary of State, Blinken said he is excited about all that lies ahead. “It’s a new day for America and the world. Today feels like a homecoming,” he said.
Blinken has worked in the building in the past in various capacities including as an intern 28 years ago and as Deputy Secretary of State during the Obama Administration.
“As Deputy Secretary of State, I learned what it means to help lead an institution as vital as this one – how to safeguard what makes it great, invest in its future, and leave it just a little bit stronger than you found it. I take that work very seriously. And as Secretary, I will not let you down,” he said.
Blinken said that the State Department he walked into today is not the same one he left four years ago. The world has changed and the Department has changed, he noted.
“We need only look around to see that. I’m speaking to a nearly empty lobby. The people who are here are wearing masks. To date, the pandemic has claimed the lives of 5 State Department Americans and 42 locally employed staff around the world. Many more have gotten sick,” he said.
“And outside our doors, our government buildings are surrounded by new barricades. We’ve never been in a moment quite like this before. The President is committed to getting us through it as quickly as possible, so that soon, we can all gather in person again, travel freely again, and have confidence that the foundations of our democracy are strong,” Blinken said.
“We at State have a role to play in all of this. It starts with rebuilding morale and trust. This is a priority for me, because we need a strong Department for the United States to be strong in the world,” he asserted.
Blinken’s speech was greeted with applause from the smattering of employees gathered in the lobby.
Prior to his remarks, Blinken was officially welcomed into the Department for the first time as Secretary of State by approximately 30 of the women and men representing a small cross-section of the larger workforce, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said.
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