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Alan Henning's Wife Pleads For His Release

Written By andika jamanta on Minggu, 21 September 2014 | 18.25

The wife of British aid convoy volunteer Alan Henning has issued a statement to the Islamic State calling on his captors to release him.

Mr Henning, 47, a former taxi driver from Manchester, was captured last December near the town of al Dana in Syria by IS militants.

He was shown at the end of a video last week following the murder of fellow British captive David Haines.

The statement, issued through the Foreign Office, said: "I am Barbara Henning the wife of Alan Henning. Alan was taken prisoner last December and is being held by the Islamic State.

"Alan is a peaceful, selfless man who left his family and his job as a taxi driver in the UK to drive in a convoy all the way to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need.

Alan Henning Mr Henning (L) had driven an ambulance full of food and water to Syria

"When he was taken he was driving an ambulance full of food and water to be handed out to anyone in need.

"His purpose for being there was no more and no less. This was an act of sheer compassion.

"I cannot see how it could assist any state's cause to allow the world to see a man like Alan dying.

"I have been trying to communicate with the Islamic State and the people holding Alan. I have sent some really important messages but they have not been responded to.

"I pray that the people holding Alan respond to my messages and contact me before it is too late.

"When they hear this message I implore the people of Islamic State to see it in their hearts to release my husband Alan Henning."

It is the first public statement by Mr Henning's family since he appeared in the IS video.

It follows an appeal by Muslim scholars in the UK calling for the release of the Briton, who was captured in December near the town of al Dana.

IS has previously released footage showing the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

A separate video last week showed British photojournalist John Cantlie, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, saying he wanted to "convey some facts" about IS and saying he would speak about the group in future videos. There was no threat to kill Mr Cantlie in the video.


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Salmond: 'No' Voters 'Tricked' By Westminster

Salmond Quits: Nationalism Loses Its Face

Updated: 6:14pm UK, Friday 19 September 2014

Alex Salmond may be standing down as First Minister after his defeat in the independence referendum - but given his track record it is hard to believe he will not remain an influential figure in Scottish life.

Regardless of the vote, few would dispute his abilities as a political tactician, having led the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to a stunning victory in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.

Born in Linlithgow in 1954, Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond was educated at Linlithgow Academy and St Andrew's University, where he first joined the SNP.

Graduating with a degree in economics and history, he worked as an economist for both the Government Economic Service and the Royal Bank of Scotland before being elected as an MP for the Banff and Buchan constituency in 1987.

His election at Westminster followed a turbulent period for the SNP, which saw its number of seats fall from 11 to two in the 1979 General Election.

As a young and brash newcomer, Mr Salmond played a role in the breakaway faction of the party known as the "79 Group" which sought to take a more left-wing stance.

His brief expulsion as a result did not hinder his advancement within the party in the long-term, with his election to leader coming in 1990.

With the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, Mr Salmond went on to serve as leader of the opposition at Holyrood, while retaining his seat at Westminster.

He stood down as SNP leader in 2000 and left the Scottish Parliament in 2001.

Returning as leader in 2004, he guided the SNP to a narrow Scottish election win in 2007 and then led a minority government as he became Scotland's first SNP First Minister, with his wife Moira by his side.

That success was superseded in the 2011 election, when Mr Salmond led his party to an unprecedented victory, with a crushing defeat of its main rival and pre-election poll leaders Labour.

It meant the SNP's manifesto pledge to hold an independence referendum could be delivered.

Mr Salmond signed the Edinburgh Agreement with David Cameron on October 15 2012, setting out the terms of the vote.

Despite attempts by some in the Yes camp to move the focus away from him, Mr Salmond was seen across the UK - and the wider world - as synonymous with the Scottish independence movement.

During his time as First Minister he has had his fair share of controversies, including the decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

But over the past year, his White Paper on independence has been the focus of criticism from his unionist rivals, most notably over his currency plans and oil revenue projections.

He was generally held to have lost the first televised referendum debate with Better Together leader Alistair Darling, but made a barnstorming return in the second.

It failed to translate into majority support for independence and the No campaign are now celebrating a clear victory.

But whatever happens next, Mr Salmond will go down in history as the man who led the battle for independence to its highest watermark in over 300 years.


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Thai Murders: Sexual Jealousy May Be Motive

Police hunting the killer of two British backpackers in Thailand have told Sky News that "sexual jealousy" may be the motive.

Officers are appealing for anyone who had a relationship with Hannah Witheridge or David Miller in the days before they died to come forward.

It is nearly a week since their bodies were found on a beach in Koh Tao.

Sky's Jonathan Samuels said officers have asked police in the UK to speak to British friends of the travellers to find out about their interactions in the days leading up to the murders.

He said: "They are also investigating rumours that they may have had a row with a Thai man in a bar."

Police Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen said: "We are appealing for anyone who had a relationship, even a one night stand, with either Hannah or David in the days before they died to come forward as a matter of urgency.

"We have asked the Met police to go back and ask their friends if they can help with any further information."

He added: "We still believe sexual jealously is at the heart of this crime.

"We are aware of reports they may have been involved in a row in a bar with a Thai man and we are currently investigating."

More follows...


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Freed Islamic State Hostages Return To Turkey

Written By andika jamanta on Sabtu, 20 September 2014 | 18.25

Dozens of Turkish hostages seized by Islamic State militants in Iraq have been freed in what Turkey's President described as a secret rescue operation.

The 49 hostages - including diplomatic staff, special forces soldiers and children - were taken from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq on June 11 after the city was overrun by Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said they were released after a "pre-planned operation" involving the country's intelligence services.

Ahmet Davutoglu meets Turkish hostages Mr Davutoglu hugs a child. It is not known if she is one of the hostages

"After intense efforts that lasted days and weeks, in the early hours, our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back to our country," he said.

It was not immediately clear what Turkey had done to secure the safe return of the hostages, but Turkish independent broadcaster NTV said no ransom was paid and there were no clashes with insurgents during the operation to release them.

President Tayyip Erdogan said: "I thank the Prime Minister and his colleagues for the pre-planned, carefully calculated and secretly conducted operation throughout the night.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with freed hostages Mr Davutoglu (L) gets on a plane with the freed hostages

"MIT (the Turkish intelligence agency) has followed the situation very sensitively and patiently since the beginning and, as a result, conducted a successful rescue operation."

Police formed a cordon outside the airport in the southern Turkish city of Sanliurfa as the hostages arrived in buses with curtains drawn.

The Prime Minister, who cut short an official trip to Azerbaijan to travel to Sanliurfa, hugged the hostages before boarding a plane with them to the capital, Ankara.

Turkey The hostages were taken in Mosul and returned to Sanliurfa

Mr Davutoglu did not provide further details on the circumstances of the release, but said it was carried out through "MIT's own methods".

Sky's Senior Correspondent Ian Woods said: "It seems that some sort of deal must have been done because these are people, unlike the Western hostages, journalists and aid workers, these were people who were not in the country of their own volition.

"To describe this as something co-ordinated by the intelligence service suggests that a deal has been done. It was described as a rescue mission, but we should not think of this as such because is it unlikely they could rescue all 49 people without casualties."

Seizure of the hostages put Turkey in a difficult position as a summit of 30 countries met in Paris last week to co-ordinate their response to the IS threat.

ISIS fghters in the northern Iraq city of Mosul IS fighters in Mosul, Iraq. File image

The nations agreed to "support the Iraqi government by any means necessary - including military assistance".

Turkey resisted joining the coalition and the United States was careful not to push Ankara too hard as it worked to free the hostages.

The hostage release comes as Turkey opened up its border to thousands of Kurds fleeing clashes with IS in neighbouring Syria.

Under tight security, the refugees, mostly women and children, crossed to the Turkish side of the border in the southeastern village of Dikmetas.

Alan Henning The group is still holding British hostage Alan Henning

"We have taken in 4,000 brothers," Mr Davutoglu told reporters.

"The entries have started now. The number might increase. Their needs will be met. This is a humanitarian mission."

Islamic State has killed two US journalists and a British aid worker who were working in Syria in retaliation for airstrikes that Washington launched against them in Iraq.

IS is also holding two British hostages captured in Syria who have appeared in videos released by the group.

A group of Muslim scholars has made a direct appeal to IS to release hostage Alan Henning.

British hostage John Cantlie Mr Cantlie was seen in an IS video

In a video message posted online, the men told the 47-year-old's captors that killing him would be against Islamic law.

Mr Henning, a taxi driver from Salford, was delivering aid in Syria when he was captured in December near the town of al Dana.

A video released on Thursday showing British journalist John Cantlie, who is also believed to be held by IS.


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UK Hostage Murder Threat 'Against Sharia'

A group of Muslim scholars has made a direct appeal to Islamic State (IS) militants to release British hostage Alan Henning.

In a video message posted online, the men told the 47-year-old's captors that killing him would be against Islamic law.

Mr Henning, a taxi driver from Salford, was delivering aid in Syria when he was captured in December near the town of al Dana.

Shaykh Haitham al Haddad, a qadi or judge in the Sharia council in London, said: "This is to confirm that executing this man is totally haram (sinful), is impermissible, prohibited according to Sharia for a number of reasons."

Ustadh Abu Eesa, director at Prophetic Guidance in Manchester, said Mr Henning had joined a Muslim charity convoy because he "passionately believes in helping the most needy".

He said: "No matter what our differences, no matter how differently we see the world, what there is no doubt about is that the killing of an innocent man is not permitted in the religion of Allah.

"It is not permissible whatsoever to harm a person who believes that he is safe among the people he is working with. This safety must be honoured."

Alan Henning Mr Henning, 47, had driven an ambulance to Syria to deliver aid

A third scholar, Imam Shakeel Begg from the Lewisham Islamic Centre, said Mr Henning was innocent.

He added: "Whatever your grievance, whatever your cause, this man is innocent."

It comes after more than 100 Muslim leaders signed a statement pleading for IS to release Mr Henning and branding them "monsters" for the murder of fellow hostage David Haines.

In a letter in the Independent newspaper, they said: "We, the undersigned British Muslim Imams, organisations and individuals, wish to express our horror and revulsion at the senseless murder of David Haines and the threat to the life of our fellow British citizen, Alan Henning."

Mr Henning appeared at the end of a video released by IS militants last Saturday in which Mr Haines was beheaded. The video contained a threat that he would be killed next.

Separate video footage - filmed before his capture - showed him saying it was "all worthwhile" to ensure aid got to where it was most needed in Syria.


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Alice Gross Police Search Is Largest Since 7/7

By Tom Parmenter, Sky Correspondent

The search for missing teenager Alice Gross is now the biggest deployment of Metropolitan Police search assets since the 7/7 terror attacks in London.

The 14-year-old from Hanwell, west London, has been missing for 24 days and police continue to make new appeals for information.

Detectives revealed this week they are also searching for Latvian national Arnis Zalkans, 41, who disappeared from his home in nearby Ealing on September 3 - a week after Alice disappeared.

The 41-year-old was jailed in his native country in the late 1990s for murdering his wife and burying her in a forest following a dispute about her sexuality.

Alice Gross Police are also hunting for Arnis Zalkalns who disappeared at the same time

It has also emerged Zalkalns was arrested in London on suspicion of indecent assault on a 14-year-old girl in 2009, but was never charged.

Search teams, including dogs and divers, have been deployed across west London looking for Alice, and police say the search area is being widened.

Detective Superintendent Carl Mehta, said: "I would like to thank the local community who have shown great support to the search effort and police investigation so far.

"Our officers are working through the weekend - carrying on those searches. We will not stop our hunt for Alice. Whilst we have already seized many hundreds of hours of CCTV we still need the public's help.

"If you are a shop owner, have CCTV at your home, or were out filming in the areas of Ealing and Hanwell and have footage from the afternoon of Thursday 28 August when Alice was last seen, and right up to the 3 September when Arnis Zalkalns was last seen, then please get in touch with us.

"Save the footage, call into our incident room on 020 8358 0100, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

CCTV of suspect in murder of Alice Gross, Arnis Zalkalns Zalkalns was seen on CCTV cycling along a path by the Grand Union Canal

Some 630 officers from eight police forces have been involved in the hunt. They have searched 25sq km of open land and 5.5km of canals and rivers.

On Friday night, police searched a former home of Zalkalns in Hanwell.

The owner of the house, Radoslav Andric, said he last saw Zalkalns at the rental property two days before Alice went missing on August 28.

Mr Andric said the Latvian builder moved out more than a year ago, but had returned to see friends.

Police have recovered the suspect's red Trek bicycle from the property.

Forensic officers have also searched Zalkalns' semi-detached house in Ealing, where armed officers have been seen standing guard.

Zalkalns has not accessed his bank account or used his mobile phone since September 3, nor has he returned home to his partner and young child.

He was seen on CCTV footage cycling along a path by the Grand Union Canal 15 minutes after the last sighting of Alice.

Detectives believe he is likely to have seen Alice as they were both going north along the canal towpath.


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Scottish Referendum: What They're Saying

Written By andika jamanta on Jumat, 19 September 2014 | 18.25

Supporters of both the Yes and No campaigns have been giving their reactions to Scotland's decision to reject independence.

Prime Minister David Cameron: "The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They've kept our country of four nations together and like millions of other people, I am delighted.

"As I said during the campaign, it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end and I know that this sentiment was shared not just by people across our country but also around the world.

"Now the debate has been settled for a generation, or as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime. So there can be no disputes, no reruns - we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond speaks at the "Yes" Campaign headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland Alex Salmond: 'I accept that verdict of the people'

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond: "Scotland has by majority decided not at this stage to become an independent country and I accept that verdict of the people, and I call on all Scots to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.

"The process by which we have made our decision as a nation reflects enormous credit upon Scotland.

Rowling to publish 2nd crime novel Harry Potter author JK Rowling gave financial backing to the No campaign

"A turnout of 86% is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history - this has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics."

Better Together campaign chair Alistair Darling: "The people of Scotland have spoken. We have chosen unity over division and positive change rather than needless separation."

Nicola Sturgeon embraces yes campaigners in Glasow Nicola Sturgeon said the campaign was 'a joy to be part of'

Author and Better Together supporter J K Rowling: "Been up all night watching Scotland make history. A huge turnout, a peaceful democratic process: we should be proud."

Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: "This campaign has been a joy to be part of, it's quite unlike anything I've ever been part of in my life before.

"As have thousands and thousands of others, I have given my heart and soul to this campaign but what has been amazing are the number of people who have never been involved in politics before, who have never campaigned as part of a political movement before, who have got involved."

Nick Clegg Nick Clegg said the result was welcome 'in a dangerous and uncertain world'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg: "I'm absolutely delighted the Scottish people have taken this momentous decision to safeguard our family of nations for future generations.

"In a dangerous and uncertain world I have no doubt we are stronger, safer, and more prosperous together than we ever could be apart.

"But a vote against independence was clearly not a vote against change and we must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland.

Better Together's Jim Murphy: "We are going to have to make a success of the decision Scotland has made.

"While I'm delighted, there is no time or space for triumph and we have got to get on and offer that devolution package we offered and unite the country around that.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: "Over the past few weeks the campaign has touched on such raw issues of identity and been so closely fought that it has generated profound questioning and unsettlement far beyond Scotland.

"The decision by the Scottish people to remain within the United Kingdom, while deeply disappointing to many, will be welcomed by all those who believe that this country can continue to be an example of how different nations can work together for the common good within one state.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage: "The way that Westminster handled this was abysmal from the start.

"A series of promises were made on behalf of the English. The English are 86% by population of this union, they've been left out of all of this ( The Barnett formula) for the past 18 years ... what most English people want is a fair settlement."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson: "Scotland had the biggest, broadest conversation about our future. We have to come together again & move forward together. It's all our home."

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson: "Delighted Scotland has voted to remain in the Union.  We are better together."

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones: "Pleased the people of Scotland have voted to remain in the Union – together we will shape a new constitutional future for the UK."

Conservative MP Mark Reckless on Twitter: "I am so pleased to be able to tell the children this morning that Mummy won't be becoming a foreigner."


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Scotland Votes No: PM Promises New Powers

Devo Max: What New Powers Can Scotland Have?

Updated: 12:01pm UK, Friday 19 September 2014

David Cameron has pledged new powers for Scotland that some have said amount to Devo Max. However, it's not quite as clear cut as that.

What is Devo Max?

Scottish Parliament basically gets power over everything - apart from defence and foreign affairs. Maximum devolution.

Is that on offer?

No it's not, although some say David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have come close to that.

What powers does Scotland already have?

It makes its own laws on health, education, law and order, environment, social services, housing, local government, tourism, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and some areas of transport. It can also raise or lower its income tax by 3p, but has not used this power.

What does Westminster have control of?

Defence, social security, immigration, benefits, foreign policy, employment, broadcasting, trade and industry, nuclear energy, oil, gas and electricity, consumer affairs and the constitution.

What powers will be given away in this quasi Devo Max deal?

It is not entirely clear. More power over setting income tax is definitely on the agenda, and control of housing benefits too. Holyrood is unlikely to get control over the oil take or corporation tax.

Under Gordon Brown's 12-point plan, giveaways include power over borrowing, job creation, social care and employment rights. The Scottish Parliament will also be confirmed as permanent, binding future governments to ensure its continued existence.

But what about England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Well, Mr Cameron has also promised more powers for Wales and Northern Ireland and to listen to the "millions of voices of England". He has promised to address the problem of "English votes for English laws" or the West Lothian question as it is also called. 

At the moment Scotland's 59 MPs can vote on matters that affect all of the UK but English MPs cannot vote on Scottish matters where powers have been devolved to Holyrood. 

With the promise of new powers for Scotland's Parliament, it has led to calls of "unfair" and for England to get more powers and the Prime Minister has said he will deliver. A sort of devolution revolution, if you will. 

Leader of the House of Commons William Hague is in charge of drawing up these plans but do expect that the Lib Dems and Labour will have rival versions. No cross-party consensus has been reached as with devolved powers for Scotland.

Make no mistake, it's a major shake-up - and yes, it will be an election issue.

So when is all this going to happen?

Gordon Brown has tabled a House of Commons debate over his planned 12-point power giveaway and the timetable for its delivery in mid-October.

There intention is that a new draft law to be drawn up by January 25 (Burns Night). Alex Salmond has agreed to talks to thrash out the details of these new powers but he will clearly be trying to get as close to delivering Devo Max as he can - having lost the battle for independence. It will not be passed until after the General Election in May but as there is a cross-party agreement theoretically, this should not provide a problem.

But the plans for England, Wales and Scotland do not have to work to the same timetable. They could be far more contentious as the parties are unlikely to agree on plans. Any English votes for English laws will put Labour at a distinct disadvantage as it effectively loses 40 MPs if its Scottish politicians are not included.

In addition, English MPs may be reluctant to allow new powers for Scotland to go through when they don't know "what's in it for them". 

In short, this could get messy and take a very long time.

:: Watch live: Scottish referendum coverage now on Sky News Sky 501, Virgin Media 602, Freesat 202, Freeview 132.

:: Live coverage is also available on sky.com/news and Sky News for iPad and on your mobile phone.


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What Now For UK? 10 Things You Need To Know

Scotland has rejected independence. So what happens now, and can we all still be friends?

1) What new powers will Scotland get?

Scottish Parliament

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have all promised Scotland will get some - although we don't yet know exactly what they are. Gordon Brown has set out a 12-point plan and will be drawing up the Home Rule deal. Remember Scotland already makes its own laws in a number of areas including health and social services, education, and law and order.

2) When will it get them?

Burns night

Work will start straight away. Mr Brown has secured a House of Commons debate on October 16 and a command paper is expected at the end of that month. A draft new law will be drawn up by January 25, 2015 - Burns Night - but this will not be passed until after the General Election.

3) Will there be another referendum?

David Cameron and Alex Salmond sign referendum deal

No, at least not any time soon. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has said he will accept the result and has no appetite for another vote. However, the issue of independence has cropped up once or twice before... Never say never.

4) Will Scottish people pay less tax than England?

Penny

They could, yes. The new powers will give Scotland more power over setting income tax. Still it's worth noting that Holyrood already has power to vary income tax by 3p above or below the rest of the UK (set to rise to 10p in 2016). It's never used them.

5) Will Scotland get better benefits?

Bedroom tax

Potentially, yes. It's likely the new powers will give Scottish Parliament more say on housing benefit, which could see it scrap the unpopular so-called "bedroom tax".

6) Will Wales and Northern Ireland want a slice of the cake?

Slice of cake

Yes - and David Cameron has indicated that they will get more powers and will be part of drawing up a "new and fair settlement" for the whole of the UK. This new "devolution revolution" will also mean England's MPs will get a greater say in English matters.

7) Will Scotland carry on getting a greater allocation of wealth than England under the Barnett Formula?

The yearly per-capita distribution of wealth under the Barnett formula. The yearly per-capita distribution of wealth under the Barnett formula

It seems so. Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband have said the method for allocating the UK wealth will continue. Scotland does a lot better out of it than England. Northern Ireland comes out top. It's unpopular and even the man who came up with it, Labour peer Lord Barnett, has said it's outdated.

English MPs are not happy and it remains to be seen if it will be altered under the new deal. However, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander says he thinks it is good for the whole of the UK.

8) Will Scottish MPs still be able to vote on English matters?

House of Commons chamber

This head-scratcher is called the West Lothian question - because it was raised by Labour's West Lothian MP Tam Dalyell… in 1977.

Scotland's 59 MPs can vote on any issues in Westminster - even swaying votes on matters that will not affect their constituents - but English MPs cannot vote on powers devolved to Scotland.

Mr Cameron has promised that this "question of English votes for English laws" will be addressed and that the "millions of voices of England must be heard".

9) Can England have its own parliament now?

Palace Of Westminster Houses Of Parliament

Maybe. A growing number of MPs are calling for an English parliament, led in the main by Tory MP John Redwood. However, it will clearly be part of the talks in the coming months. Leader of the House of Commons William Hague will be drawing up plans on powers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Expect rival Labour and Lib Dem versions.

10) Can England and Scotland still be friends?

England's Lampard makes late challenge on Scotland's Maloney

Expect initial hostilities after the slings and arrows of a fairly feisty campaign but take comfort from history. The two nations have had their differences but have rubbed along for centuries. That said, Andy Murray has taken a fair drubbing on Twitter after coming out for the Yes campaign. And there's always football - the two countries meet in a 'friendly' in November.


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Scotland: Keep Up With Events As They Unfold

Written By andika jamanta on Kamis, 18 September 2014 | 18.25

Decision Day For Scotland: Voters Go To Polls

Updated: 11:52am UK, Thursday 18 September 2014

People in Scotland have begun voting on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation.

Polling stations opened at 7am and people have until 10pm to cast their ballot, with the result expected to be known by breakfast time tomorrow.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond was pictured outside Ritchie Hall polling station in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, two hours after polls opened.

Mr Salmond, leading the Yes campaign, was joined by two first-time voters, 18-year-old Natasha McDonald and Lea Pirie, 28.

He gave both women a soft Yes toy as a mascot for their vote and the trio stopped for pictures on their way into the polling station.

Despite long days of campaigning, the First Minister said he managed to get a good rest on the eve of the vote.

Former Chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling was photographed with his wife Maggie and No campaigners in Edinburgh.

He was booed by some, but cheered by others, as he arrived at the polling station at the Church Hill Theatre in Edinburgh

He told reporters: "It's been a long, hard two-and-a-half year campaign, passions have been aroused on both sides, and understandably so because we are talking about the biggest single decision that any of us will ever take in our lifetime."

Earlier, former PM Gordon Brown arrived at the polling station at North Queensferry Community Centre, Fife, to cast his vote.

He shook hands with No campaign supporters, as well as one Yes voter, who were waiting for him in the mist.

After casting her vote, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "I've just voted #Yes to Scotland becoming an independent country. What a wonderful feeling."

Elsewhere, queues formed outside polling stations across the country from early morning as turnout was expected to be as high as 90%.

More than 2,600 schools, sports centres and local halls have opened their doors to voters.

Four million voters are being asked a simple question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

A Yes vote at the end of a hard-fought campaign will bring an end to the Union of the United Kingdom that has stood for 307 years.

After the polls close tonight, counting of the votes takes place at 32 regional centres all over Scotland.

Then, once each result is in, the numbers will be sent to the main counting centre in Edinburgh.

The earliest declarations, at around 2am on Friday, will include North Lanarkshire, Orkney, East Lothian and Perth and Kinross.

The latest, at 6am, is expected to be Aberdeen. Dundee is expected at 3am and Edinburgh and Glasgow at 5am.

:: Watch live: Scottish referendum coverage from 9pm on Sky News Sky 501, Virgin Media 602, Freesat 202, Freeview 132.


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