Sri Lanka blasts: At least 138 dead, over 400 injured

UNTV News   •   April 21, 2019   •   4115

Explosions in three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels on Sunday morning (April 21) have killed 138 people and injured over 400.

Police officials said more than 50 were killed in the blast at St. Sebastian’s Catholic church in Katuwapitiya, while 25 were also killed at a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province. Another explosion was also reported at St. Anthony’s Church in Kochcikade, Colombo.

The local media also reported blasts from three hotels in Colombo, namely the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury Hotel.

Nine foreigners were among the dead, according to authorities.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attacks and has already called a national security council meeting.

St. Sebastian Church also appealed for aid in behalf of the individuals and families affected by the blast—Reuters

Sri Lankan police releases details of bombers

Robie de Guzman   •   May 2, 2019

Alleged suicide bombers involved in attacks that targeted hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019 | Courtesy : Reuters

Sri Lanka police on Wednesday (May 1) released pictures and names of men they described as suicide bombers involved in attacks that targeted hotels and churches.

Police suspect members of two previously little-known groups – National Thawheedh Jamaath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – of carrying out the bombings that killed at least 253 people, including 40 foreign nationals, on April 21.

A government source told Reuters on Tuesday (April 30) police and other security forces across the Buddhist-majority country had been ordered to remain on high alert.

This is because the militants were expected to try to strike again, before the holy month of Ramadan which starts on Monday (May 6). (REUTERS)

Sri Lanka residents support ban on face-covering veils

Robie de Guzman   •   April 30, 2019

Officers inspect one of the sites of a bomb blast that hit Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019 | Courtesy : Reuters

Authorities in Sri Lanka on Monday (April 29) banned women from wearing face veils under an emergency law put in place after deadly attacks on April 21 by Islamist militants.

The measure would help security forces identify people as the hunt for any remaining attackers and their support network continues across the Indian Ocean island, authorities said.

Residents of Colombo’s Muslim neighbourhood said they supported the ban on covering of faces as it would help make the jobs of security forces easier.

“This is for our good I think. Now at this moment, you know the problem in Sri Lanka, according to the problem – face covering – at the moment, it’s not good because they can’t find (if) it is a man or a woman, for that only President may have made this (decision),” said Nazar Mohammad who manages a store which sells headscarves.

“We have to cover our hair, that is compulsory, so wearing the abaya and covering the hair, that is fine,” Young muslim woman named Shahane Muzammil said.

But there are concerns within the Muslim community that a prolonged ban could fuel tensions in the religiously-diverse nation that emerged from a civil war with ethnic minority Tamil separatists a decade ago.

Officials have warned that the militants behind the April 21 suicide bombings on hotels and churches that killed over 250 people were planning more attacks, using a van and bombers disguised in military uniforms. (REUTERS)

PH-Sri Lanka strengthen ties; sign 5 bilateral agreements

Marje Pelayo   •   January 17, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena witnessed the signing of five agreements during the latter’s historic visit to the country.

The Sri Lankan President is in the country for a five-day state visit from January 15 to January 19, the first for Sri Lanka after 43 years.

The two heads of state agreed to further enhance the relationship of the two countries through cooperation in defense, agriculture, tourism, education and scientific research.

“The Philippines and Sri Lanka are developing maritime nations. We face common challenges, we have shared interests, and we are united by our desire to provide greater peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples,” President Duterte said.

“These realities and aspirations behoove upon us to work together even more closely to provide renewed impetus and clearer direction for a greatly expanded partnership,” he added.

Meanwhile, President Sirisena invited President Duterte to visit his country ‘at an early date’ to further expand bilateral ties.

“I have extended an invitation to President Duterte to undertake a State Visit to Sri Lanka at an early date. President Duterte, your visit to Sri Lanka will provide an opportunity to evaluate the progress of the initiatives which we have discussed during my visit. I look forward to welcome you and Madam Duterte. We will carry forward our discussion and consider further steps, to manifest thoughts into deeds,” the Sri Lankan president said.

During his stay in the country, President Sirisena will visit the Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños and address the Sri Lankan community In Manila. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)



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