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Former girlfriend of Boston Bomber reveals he would beat her for dressing like a Westerner and wanted her ‘to hate America’

  • Nadine Ascencao, 24, dated Tamerlan Tsarnaev for three years
  • He tried to make her become a Muslim and wear more modest clothing
  • Pair fought after he started going out with future wife Katharine Russell
  • Tsarnaev killed with police in shoot-out after Boston Marathon terror attack

The ex-girlfriend of one of the Boston bombers has revealed that he tried to turn her against the U.S. and beat her if she wore Western clothing.

Nadine Ascencao says that over the course of her relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, he was transformed from a fun-loving student into an Islamic extremist who shunned American life.

The 24-year-old lost her virginity to the Chechen immigrant and said she was besotted with him – but now she admits she had a ‘lucky escape’.

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Ms Ascencao said: ‘One minute he’s this funny, normal guy who liked boxing and having fun, the next he is praying four times a day, watching Islamic videos and talking insane nonsense.

‘He became extremely religious and tried to brainwash me to follow Islam. Tamerlan said I couldn’t be with him unless I became a Muslim. He wanted me to hate America like he did.’

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Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a stand-off with police four days after he and his brother Dzhokhar apparently set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

Since the terror attack, which left three by-standers dead and more than 170 injured, the brothers’ interest in Islamic terror has been revealed.

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Tsarnaev apparently stopped her from listening to pop music or watching television, and tried to control who she spent time with.

‘Tamerlan told me I should only talk to Muslim girls, not other “slutty” girls,’ Ms Ascencao said.

And when she wore Western clothing, he would fly into a rage and even attack her, she added.

‘He hated my tight trousers and made me wear long skirts,’ she said. ‘Towards the end I was wearing a hijab. He once ripped a pair of my jeans and hit me in the face with them.’

The pair’s relationship seems to have hit the rocks after Tsarnaev started seeing Katherine Russell after meeting her at a nightclub.

He would apparently play the two women off against each other, pitting them in competition to learn Islamic verses.

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A police report from July 2009 indicated that he slapped Ms Ascencao during an argument at their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She called 911 to complain, but although Tsarnaev was arrested and charged with assault the charges were dropped before trial.

The couple broke up later that year after three years together, and he went on to marry Ms Russell, who converted to Islam in order to be with him.

Ms Ascencao says she had no contact with her ex-boyfriend in the years before he launched his terror attack this month, but was questioned by the FBI over her links to the Islamic extremist.

‘When they said Tamerlan was dead, I didn’t cry,’ she said. ‘I was more shocked Dzhokhar was involved. He was a nice kid.’

Dzhokhar, 19, is currently in police custody in hospital after being injured in a shoot-out with police which led to his arrest hours after Tamerlan’s death on April 19.

 

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FRENCH HOSTAGES KIDNAPPED IN CAMEROON RELEASED UNHARMED

Few Months back some French Citizens who came as tourists were held hostages in Cameroon which was rumored to be of Boko Harram. Finally they were all released unharmed.

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French hostages kidnapped in northern Cameroon were released unharmed that night, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and CEO of GDF SUEZ, which is the employer of the father of this family, took flight this morning direction of Yaounde, and resume a flight tonight with seven family members to be in Paris early tomorrow morning.

Cameroon, there is a lot to this completely unexpected release, and all the honors course will return to President Paul Biya, too, because one way or another, he was able to wash the image of the country in which tourism was take a big hit.

Cameroon is always a safe and welcoming country, so no fear to stay, it was a very isolated and very quickly settled case.

FBI releases images of two suspects near Boston bomb sites

Investigators hope release of images showing two possible suspects will help lead to their identities.Image

Federal investigators issued an urgent appeal Thursday for the public’s assistance in identifying two suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks Monday. The two were seen on local surveillance camera carrying backpacks near the sites just minutes before two bomb devices were detonated.

Boston FBI chief Richard DesLauriers said the young men — identified as “Suspect 1” and “Suspect 2” were the only people authorities were seeking in connection with the blasts, which left three dead and 176 others wounded near the finish line of Monday’s race.

Suspect 1 was wearing a black cap, khaki pants, sunglasses and slip-on dress shoes.

Suspect 2 was wearing a white cap backward, jeans and gray hoodie sweatshirt with a black jacket over it. He is also seen casually walking down a busy sidewalk with a pack that investigators believe was set down near the site of the second explosion.

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Both suspects’ bags appear to be similar to the black nylon pack described earlier as possibly used to carry the explosive devices believed to have been assembled in common kitchen pressure cookers.

DesLauriers said the suspects’ photos were culled from streams of video and photographic evidence collected since Monday. Police first became suspicious of Suspect 2 because of his actions and proximity to the second bomb scene. Investigators later found images of Suspect 1, who appears to be traveling with the other person.

“We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous,” DesLauriers said at a televised evening briefing. “No one should approach them. No one should attempt to apprehend them except law enforcement. Do not take any action on your own.”

In the unusually blunt appeal, DesLauriers asked the public to closely examine the photographs and report any information to its telephone tip line: 1-800-225-5324.

“No bit of information is too small for us to see,” he said.

Within minutes of the photos’ release, the FBI’s website was swamped, temporarily blocking access to the material.

“Identifying and locating those responsible is now our highest priority,” DesLauriers said.

The release of the images comes three days after the blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, and Lu Lingzi, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China.

More than 1,000 officers and agents studied 3,000 photographs and many terabytes of digital data to identify the suspects, FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said.

Investigators used several different photos over time to piece together the suspects’ paths and association, FBI Special Agent Dan Curtin said.

At a service for victims in Boston on Thursday morning, President Obama vowed the attackers would be caught and prosecuted. “Yes, we will find you — and, yes, you will face justice,” he said.

In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the “full resources” of the Justice Department were being deployed in the investigation and to guard against any future attacks.

MORE: Interfaith service held in Boston

FULL COVERAGE: Boston Marathon bombings

Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, told a congressional committee Thursday that the “individual or group that carried out this heinous act” would be held accountable … “by any means available to us”

Holder’s comments came after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a House panel that the responsibility for the attack has yet to be linked to any individuals or international or domestic terrorist organizations.

“We don’t know,” Napolitano told a congressional panel, as investigators in Boston continue to pursue a number of promising leads.

Authorities continue working to identify individuals at both sites as well as a number of other people in video and photographs near the explosions.Image

More than 50 people remain hospitalized, with seven listed in critical condition, down from 14 Wednesday. They include a 10-year-old boy at Boston Children’s Hospital whose leg was amputated and a 9-year-old girl with a leg injury. Brigham and Women’s Hospital had four people in critical condition and Boston Medical Center had one. At Tufts Medical Center, five bombing victims remain under care, but none are listed as critical.

Meanwhile, families of a newlywed couple who both suffered a leg amputation below the knee are thanking supporters for an outpouring of donations.

The families of Patrick and Jessica Downes said Thursday that the generosity from friends and strangers has restored their faith in humanity. More than 4,400 people have donated more than $246,000 to the couple through GiveForward.com.

The families say they don’t want the couple to worry about paying for prosthetics and modifications to their home during the recovery process.

Thirty-year-old Patrick and 32-year-old Jessica are in stable condition and recovering from surgery. They were married in Boston in August. Jessica is a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of several area hospitals treating bomb victims.

A. Song Unhappy with his play at Barcelona F.C

Alexandre Song Bilong who left Arsenal to Cam Nou last transfer season now unhappy with his role at his present club. F.C Barcelone.

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The former Arsenal midfielder’s older cousin reveals that the Cameroon international is frustrated about a lack of first-team appearances since moving to Camp Nou

Reired Cameroon star Rigobert Song has revealed that his cousin, midfielder Alex Song, is unhappy at Barcelona because of his lack of first-team opportunities since joining from Arsenal.

The Cameroon international moved to the Catalan club for 15 million pounds over the summer but has made just 12 starts in La Liga, spending some of that time in a less-familiar center back role rather than his preferred position in the middle of the park.

The former Liverpool and Galatasaray defender has now publicly declared the 25-year-old’s discontent in Spain but still believes that he ought to remain with the Blaugrana.

“Alex is not happy [at Barcelona]; at Arsenal he was a leader on and off the field, he doesn’t feel like the protagonist in Spain, it makes him feel bad,” the elder Song told Calciomercato on Wednesday. “He still has a long contract, until 2017. I do not think moving away is the right choice. All players want to play all the time but in Barcelona it is not easy. ”

Despite his cousin’s struggles to impose himself on the first team at Camp Nou, the veteran Song sees success in due time for the former Gunner.

“Alex must have patience,” he asserted. “His time will come because he has the qualities to do well.”

No Arrests Made; Progress in Boston Marathon Bombing Case, FBI Says.

After law enforcement sources told CNN that an arrest was made in Boston Marathon bombings, two senior administration officials and another federal official told CNN contributor Fran Townsend that no arrest happened.
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Investigators reported major progress in the Boston Marathon bombing case Wednesday, but said no arrest had been made, despite conflicting news accounts.Two law enforcement sources told USA TODAY no arrest had been made, although the Associated Press, CNN and Fox Boston had reported in early afternoon that a suspect had been taken into custody.As reports spread of an imminent arrest, the federal courthouse was jammed with a massive police and media presence. People with cell phone cameras poised to snap a picture of any suspect filled the parking lot.

A message sent to Boston officers on the police scanner, however, said flatly: “Despite reports to the contrary, there has been no arrest.” The message added that officers should “remain diligent in our mission.”

The reports that offiicals were zeroing in on a possible suspect came as several news sources said investigators had identified images of a suspect seen delivering one of the explosive devices near the marathon finish line.

CNN’s John King quoted law enforcement sources as saying that surveillance video from a nearby Lord &Taylor department store was key in the investigation. Television footage also played a role, CNN reports.

“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino tells the Boston Globe. “All I know is that they are making progress.”

A law enforcement official, who described the investigation as “very active,” told USA TODAY that authorities have been focusing on a mass of photographic evidence provided by the public and area security cameras. But the source indicated that there mixed views on the value of the analysis so far.

“There is a lot going on,” said the official, who is not authorized to comment publicly on the investigation.

As investigators painstakingly gather fragments of evidence from the two explosions that killed three people and injured more than 170, a lid has been recovered from a pressure cooker apparently used as the explosive device, a federal law enforcement official said.

The official, who has been briefed on the matter but is not authorized to comment publicly, told USA TODAY the lid was found on a roof near the scene of the blast.

The discovery came as the head of the Department of Homeland Security told a Senate panel in Washington that the Coast Guard worked with the Boston Police Department after the bombings Monday to guard against any potential water-borne attack from the harbor or the Charles River.

Janet Napolitano said officials continue to investigate the bombing with the FBI as a solitary act of terror.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect arrested.

Officials: Arrest ‘imminent’ in Boston bombing case.

ImageFederal agents zeroed in Tuesday on how the Boston Marathon bombing was carried out — with kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and other lethal shrapnel. (April 17)

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An arrest of a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing case is imminent, a law enforcement source said Wednesday, with the suspect to be brought to court soon, the Associated Press reported.

The AP reports comes as several news sources report that investigators have identified images of a suspect seen delivering one of the explosive devices that killed 3 people and injured more than 170 at the finish line of the marathon.

CNN reported that the arrest has already taken place, but sources tell USA TODAY no arrest has been made.

The reports of an arrest follows comments from officials that they had pinpointed the image of the suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the scene of the second blast on Monday.

CNN also quotes a law enforcement source a saying that officials believe they have identified the bomb suspect in the crowd.

CNN’s John King quotes the sources as saying that surveillance video from a nearby Lord &Taylor department store was key in the investigation. Television footage also played a role, CNN reports.

“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino tells the Boston Globe. “All I know is that they are making progress.”

A law enforcement official, who described the investigation as “very active,” told USA TODAY that authorities have been focusing on a mass of photographic evidence provided by the public and area security cameras. But the source indicated that there mixed views on the value of the analysis so far.

“There is a lot going on,” said the official, who is not authorized to comment publicly on the investigation.

As investigators painstakingly gather fragments of evidence from the two explosions that killed three people and injured more than 170, a lid has been recovered from a pressure cooker apparently used as the explosive device, a federal law enforcement official said.

The official, who has been briefed on the matter but is not authorized to comment publicly, told USA TODAY the lid was found on a roof near the scene of the blast.

The discovery came as the head of the Department of Homeland Security told a Senate panel in Washington that the Coast Guard worked with the Boston Police Department after the bombings Monday to guard against any potential water-borne attack from the harbor or the Charles River.

Janet Napolitano said officials continue to investigate the bombing with the FBI as a solitary act of terror.

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“There is no current indication to suggest the attack was indicative of a broader plot,” Napolitano told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “But out of an abundance of caution, we continue to keep in place enhanced security measures, both seen and unseen.”

At least 15 of the 170-plus people injured in the blast remained in critical condition Wednesday at several area hospitals. Peter Burke, chief trauma surgeon at Boston Medical Center, said two of the 19 patients there still being treated remain in critical condition, including a 5-year-old boy. All, however, are expected to survive, he said.

Burke said patients who required amputations or who lost limbs at the bomb scene are now entering the second phase of their recovery, which is making sure that infection does not set in. “They get injured very quickly, but it takes a long time for people to get better,” he said.

At the blast site, evidence investigators from ATF, FBI and other federal agencies wearing protective suits were poring over the crime scene Wednesday. Evidence trucks and mobile labs fill Exeter Street, the side street off Boylston closest to the blast scenes.

The amount of gunpowder used in the Boston Marathon bombings is believed to be a fraction of the overall weight of the devices estimated to be about 20 pounds each, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

Much of the weight was attributed to the pressure-cooker container and a mix of shrapnel — BB pellets and nail fragments —that cut a deadly path through the crowds gathered near the race finish line, said the official who is not authorized to speak publicly.

The official said the components of the bomb — common kitchen pressure cookers, wire, batteries and gunpowder — are so widely available that barring the assistance of an informant or a telling photo from the crime scene it will likely take investigators some time to determine where the materials were obtained and who acquired them.

“This is either quick or it’s not,” the official said, referring to the identification of possible suspects, “and right now it’s looking like not.”

At the same time, the official said, bomb technicians will likely be able to reconstruct much of the entire device, from both pieces recovered from the scene and the collective knowledge of investigators who have encountered similar devices in past investigations.

“They are going to be able to figure out how this device was acquired,” the official said. “Depending on the trade craft involved, they will be able to do it relatively easily.”

Boston FBI chief Richard DesLauriers said the recovered materials were being examined at the FBI’s laboratory in Quantico, Va., where the bureau has assembled a clearinghouse of IED devices recovered from places ranging from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to crime scenes around the country.

The scene is strewn with shredded T-shirts, metal fragments and glass shards. Boston Police and National Guard soldiers guard every access point, but from the side streets, spectators have watched the investigators at work.

Some evidence is being flown to the FBI lab and will undergo an expedited analysis, FBI spokesman Special Agent Jason Pack said.

The ATF’s evidence recovery experts have found blast debris on rooftops and embedded in nearby buildings, Acting ATF Special Agent Eugenio Marquez said.

“It gives the scope of the power of the blast,” Marquez said.

The latest discoveries came as investigators appealed to the public for videos and photos of the scene in hopes of getting an image of the person or persons who left the explosive devices near the finish line of the marathon.

Richard DesLauriers, the FBI special agent of the Boston office, confirmed on Tuesday that investigators had found pieces of black nylon from a bag or backpack and fragments of BBs and nails, possibly contained in a pressure cooker.

Authorities, however, have yet to determine the motive for the bombings or who was behind them, and are urging anyone with tips to come forward with information.

“The person who did this was someone’s friend, co-worker or neighbor,” he said. “Somebody knows who did this.” No one has claimed responsibility for the atrocity and “the range of suspects and motives remain wide open,” ­DesLauriers said.

Meanwhile, a Chinese newspaper has identified the third victim of Monday’s deadly blast as Lu Lingzi, a Chinese national and graduate student Boston University.

The Shenyang Evening News, a state-run Chinese newspaper, in a post on its official Twitter-like microblog account, identified the victim, who is from the northeastern Chinese city, the Associated Press reports.

An editor at the newspaper said that Lu’s father confirmed his daughter’s death when reporters visited the family home, the AP reported.

Lu, who previously studied international trade at Beijing Institute of Technology, was studying statistics at BU, according to her Facebook page and media reports.

The other two victims were Martin Richard, 8, of Boston, and Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Mass.

The Chinese Consulate in New York said in a statement Tuesday that another Chinese citizen was wounded and was in stable condition following surgery.

USA-Terror Attack at Boston Marathon [Two dead, dozens hurt as Boston hit by blasts]

2 explosions occur close to finish line of annual Boston Marathon; 3rd explosion reported at city’s JFK library; police urge people to stay indoors, avoid large crowds; Governor Patrick: Obama has offered full FBI cooperation.

ImageA runner is escorted from the scene after two explosions at the Boston marathon, April 15, 2013

Two explosions hit the Boston Marathon as runners crossed the finish line on Monday, killing at least two people and wounding 23 more on a day when tens of thousands of people pack the streets to watch one of the world’s best known marathons.

Boston police also reported another explosion at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, which is three miles from the marathon’s finishing line.

“We are not certain that these incidents are related, but we are treating them as if they are,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told a news conference.

Boston police said two people were killed and 23 wounded in the explosions on the marathon scene.

Davis said that the blasts, apparently some 50-100 meters apart, caused “multiple casualties.” He added urged people to stay home or go back to their hotels, and to avoid congregating in large crowds. “People should be calm, but they should understand that this is an ongoing event,” he said.  

Two high-level U.S. law enforcement officials said one or more bombs were responsible for the explosions.

“It sounded like a sonic boom. I haven’t stopped shaking yet,” said Melissa Stanley, who watched her daughter cross the finish line four minutes before the explosions.

A fireball rose from behind spectators and a row of flags, video posted on the New York Post website showed. Other pictures showed blood stains on the ground and several people knocked down.

Massachusetts General Hospital was treating 19 victims of the explosion in its emergency room, six of them in critical condition, a spokeswoman said.

Witnesses said two explosions hit as spectators were cheering on people finishing the Boston Marathon, which was first run in 1897.

Reporters in the media center heard two blasts.

Mike Mitchell of Vancouver, Canada, a runner who had finished the race, said he was looking back at the finish line and saw a “massive explosion.”

Smoke rose 15 meters (50 feet) in the air, Mitchell said. People began running and screaming after hearing the noise, Mitchell said.

“Everybody freaked out,” Mitchell said.

Ambulances, fire trucks and dozens of police vehicles converged at the finish line.

U.S. President Barack Obama was notified and directed his administration to provide whatever assistance was necessary, the White House said. Obama was being briefed by Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco and other staff, the White House said.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told reporters that the president had offered the “full cooperation” of the FBI.

Meanwhile, authorities tightened security in Washington and New York.

“Blood everywhere, victims carried out on stretchers. I saw someone lose their leg, people are crying,” the Boston Globe’s Steve Silva reported from the scene, the Globe said on Twitter.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators typically line the 26.2 mile (42.19 km) race course, with the heaviest crowds near the finish line. The blasts occurred more than five hours after the start of the race, at a time when most top athletes were off the course but slower amateur marathoners were still running.

The transit agency shut down all service to the area, citing police activity.

Ambulances arrived on the scene within minutes and runners and spectators could be seen crying and consoling each other.

More than 100 people were treated at area hospitals after explosions following the Boston Marathon on Monday, the Boston Globe reported on Twitter.

It was unclear what source provided the information that was reported on the Globe’s Twitter feed. Reuters could not independently verify that at least 100 people had been injured.

The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriots Day, the third Monday of April, since 1897. The event, which starts in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and ends Boston’s Copley Square, attracts an estimated half-million spectators and some 20,000 participants every year


							

(USDP)Senatorial election unconfirmed result from Cameroon

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Unconfirmed reports state that the SDF party has lost all 7 seats in the Noth West region. Meaning that Fru Ndi has equally lost his chances of becoming a senator. The stakes were high in Santa between Fru Ndi and Achidi Achu. Fru Ndi has finally lost and the only hope he still has is to be appointed by the head of State. Ie each region is supposed to have a total of 10 senators; 7 are expected to be voted while the remaining 3 are going to be appointed by the Head of State.
Mean time, SDF won all the 7 seats in the West region and also in the Adamawa. These results are still unconfirmed and the rest of the results are still being awaited.

But why the senatorial elections in the first place? Our country is poor and you will be surprised to hear that each senator is expected to earn a salary of 3.000.000 frs per month. Meaning that out of the 100 senators, our country is expected to spend 300.000.000 frs per month as payment to senators. …In fact this is really much money; and such monies would have been used to improve on our infrastructures, and other amenities.

Also to note is the fact that Frank Biya is a CPDM senatorial candidate heading the south region. In case he wins, what will be the consequence? Since one of the roles of the senate is to take over the country in case the president is not there ie during the transitional period and now that Frank Biya is a senator, probably Biya might want to throw in the towel and convey the baton to Frank;

What then becomes of the secrete dealings between Biya and Fru Ndi in case Frank becomes a senator?
What if Biya decides not to appoint Fru Ndi among the 30 senators that are at his discretion to appoint?
Let’s wait and see….

Margaret Thatcher Dies today of stroke at age 87, the first female British Prime Minister 1979-1990 .

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Margaret Thatcher, the most dominant British prime minister since Winston Churchill in 1940 and a global champion of the late 20th-century free market economic revival, has died.

Her spokesman, Lord Bell, said on Monday: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning. A further statement will be made later.”

Downing Street announced that she would receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral.

David Cameron, who is cutting short his trip to Europe to return to London following the news, said: “It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.”

He told the BBC: “As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she will go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.”

Mr Cameron is expected to announce that the Commons is being recalled from its Easter break when he makes a statement on the death later.

In a statement, President Barack Obama said that, “the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.”

“Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.”

He added that her premiership was “an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered”.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen was sad to hear the news and that she would be sending a private message of sympathy to the family.

The first woman elected to lead a major western state, Lady Thatcher, as she became after the longest premiership since 1827, served 11 unbroken years at No 10. She was only overthrown by an internal Tory party coup in 1990 after her reckless promotion of the poll tax led to rioting in Trafalgar Square.

Thatcher, who was 87, had been in declining health for some years, suffering from dementia. The death of Sir Denis Thatcher, her husband of 50 years and closest confidante, intensified her isolation in what had proved a frustrating retirement, despite energetic worldwide activity in the early years.

After a series of mini-strokes in 2002 Thatcher withdrew from public life, no longer able to make the kind of waspish pronouncements that had been her forte in office – and beyond.

Her death was greeted with tributes from across the political spectrum.

As Labour sources announced the party would suspend campaigning in the local election as a mark of respect, its leader, Ed Miliband, said: “She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

“The Labour party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.”

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: “Margaret Thatcher was one of the defining figures in modern British politics. Whatever side of the political debate you stand on, no one can deny that as prime minister she left a unique and lasting imprint on the country she served.

“She may have divided opinion during her time in politics but everyone will be united today in acknowledging the strength of her personality and the radicalism of her politics.”

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said: “Watching her set out to change Britain for the better in 1979 made me believe there was, at last, real purpose and real leadership in politics once again. She bestrode the political world like a colossus.”

The former prime minister Tony Blair said: “Margaret Thatcher was a towering political figure. Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.”

Blair’s successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, said: “She will be remembered not only for being Britain’s first female prime minister and holding the office for 11 years, but also for the determination and resilience with which she carried out all her duties throughout her public life. Even those who disagreed with her never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain’s destiny in the world.”

Describing her as a political phenomenon, the former Tory prime minister Sir John Major said: “Her outstanding characteristics will always be remembered by those who worked closely with her: courage and determination in politics, and humanity and generosity of spirit in private.”

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today’s politics.”

The “Iron Lady” proved a significant cold war ally of the US president Ronald Reagan in the final showdown with the Soviet Union, which broke up under reformist pressures led by Mikhail Gorbachev, a Kremlin leader with whom Thatcher famously declared she could “do business”.

As a result, many ordinary voters in ex-Soviet bloc states saw her as a bold champion of their liberty, a view widely shared across the spectrum of mainstream US opinion – though not at home or among key EU partners.

Thatcher was an unremarkable mid-ranking Conservative politician – known chiefly for being a “milk-snatching” education secretary under Edward Heath (1970-74) – until she unexpectedly overthrew her twice-defeated boss to become party leader in 1975.

Within a decade she had become known around the world – both admired and detested – for her pro-market domestic reforms and her implacable attitudes in foreign policy, including her long-running battle with the IRA, which almost managed to murder her when it placed a bomb in the Grand Hotel, Brighton, in 1984.

At home the emerging doctrine of Thatcherism meant denationalisation of state-owned industry – the new word “privatisation” came into widespread use in many countries – and defeat of militant trade unionists, notably the National Union of Miners, whose year-long strike (1984-85) was bitter and traumatic.

Boosted by the newly arrived revenues from Britain’s North Sea oil fields, Thatcher had room to manoeuvre and change the ageing industrial economy in ways denied to postwar predecessors, and she used the opportunity to quell her enemies – including moderate “wets” in her own party and cabinet.

But she also deployed her notorious “handbaggings” in the European Union to obtain a British rebate – “my money” as she called it. She was less successful in fending off the centralising ambitions of the “Belgian empire”, her description of the European commission, especially in the years when it was headed by the French socialist Jacques Delors.

A further sign of her losing her grip came when Thatcher, long a sympathiser with the apartheid regime in South Africa against the liberation movement, dismissed Nelson Mandela as a terrorist.

Her allies in the tabloid press, notably Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, egged her on. And, as the British economy recovered from the severe recession that her monetarist medicine had inflicted on it – to tame the unions and cure inflation – she briefly seemed invincible.

But untrammelled power, with the defeat or retirement of allies who had kept her in check, led to mistakes and growing unpopularity. When Sir Geoffrey Howe, nominally her deputy, finally fell out with Thatcher – chiefly over Europe – his devastating resignation speech triggered Michael Heseltine’s leadership challenge.

It had been expected since he resigned as defence secretary over the Westland helicopter affair in 1986, Thatcher’s closest previous brush with political death.

Heseltine denied her outright victory in the first round of voting – then confined only to MPs – and she made way for Major rather than risk losing to him in the second ballot.

In retirement she wrote highly successful memoirs in two volumes and campaigned energetically on behalf of the Thatcher Foundation, which sought to promote her values – free markets and Anglo-Saxon liberties – around the world. Speaking engagements made her moderately wealthy and she made her final home in London’s Belgravia.

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