Tag Archives: bombs

'Black sheep': The mastermind of Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday bombs

'Black sheep': The mastermind of Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday bombs“His father came and asked, ‘Where can he go?’.” The school would hear again of Mohamed Zahran. Sri Lankan officials have identified him as the suspected ringleader of a group that carried out a series of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in the country on April 21. Most of the attackers were well-educated and from wealthy families, with some having been abroad to study, according to Sri Lankan officials.



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'We are nervous': Sri Lankan PM warns of suspects with bombs at large amid fears of new attacks

'We are nervous': Sri Lankan PM warns of suspects with bombs at large amid fears of new attacksDespite the arrest of dozens of suspects in Sri Lanka's Easter massacre, the nation remained fearful over the possibility of attacks this weekend.



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Easter Sunday Bombs in Sri Lanka Target Christians and Tourists, Kill Hundreds

Easter Sunday Bombs in Sri Lanka Target Christians and Tourists, Kill HundredsREUTERS/Dinuka LiyanawatteA series of coordinated bomb blasts at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka killed more than 200 people and left hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in one of the worst bouts of violence in the island nation since civil war ended a decade ago.Four luxury hotels and three Catholic churches were among the highly populated areas that were targeted, according to the Associated Press. Officials told the AP that at least two of the blasts were carried out by suicide bombers. Late Sunday, Sri Lanka’s Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena said authorities apprehended several people suspected of being involved in the attacks, according to the Associated Press. Three police officers were reportedly killed during operations to arrest the suspects.A further improvised device was found at Bandaranaike International Airport by the Sri Lankan Air Force overnight Sunday. “A PVC pipe which was six feet in length containing explosives in it was discovered,” Air Force Spokesman Gihan Seneviratne told Sri Lanka’s main newspaper the Sunday Times.Two senior intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that a Sri Lankan police official had alerted security officials in an advisory ten days ago about a threat on churches though it remains unseen what, if any, safety measures were taken to protect worshipers. The document, which has been reviewed by The Daily Beast is written in Sinhala, but is dated April 11 and clearly states in English in all caps, “Information of an alleged plan attack.”  Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said he had not been informed, underscoring tensions within the government, the New York Times reported. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the calculated attacks.Both the Associated Press and AFP quoted local Sri Lankan intelligence officials that they had received warnings that “terrorist elements, including the radical Islamic organization NTJ, would carry out a suicide attack in certain churches during Easter.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement Sunday confirming that “several Americans” had been killed in the attacks. “While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several U.S. citizens were among those killed,” he wrote in a statement. “These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism.”Officials told the Associated Press that at least nine foreigners are among those killed in Colombo, including two people who are dual citizens of the United States and the U.K. At least one American is among those reported missing, the news site said citing the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The dead include one Portuguese citizen and two U.K. citizens, the ministry said. Chinese State Media has confirmed death of one of its citizens, per the AP. All of the foreigners were killed in attacks on hotels.Emergency officials were still combing through the bomb sites for victims as night set in Sunday, but more tourists and foreign nationals are considered to be among the dead. The New York Times reports that the deadliest attack occurred at 8:45 a.m. at the St. Sebastian Catholic Church in the city of Negombo about 20 miles from the capital city of Colombo. Survivors posted photos on social media and described seeing bodies blown to bits, with flesh splattered on the church walls. “It was a river of blood,” a witness named N. A. Sumanapala, t0ld the Times. “The priest came out and he was covered in blood.”The Catholic churches of St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and the Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern side of the island were also bombed, according to reports. Pope Francis, who visited the country four years ago to minister to the island nation’s Christian minority, expressed his condolences in his Easter Sunday mass in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. “I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said. “I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event.”Local media showed images of damage at the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels. One report showed the second-floor restaurant of the Shangri-La gutted. Sri Lanka has not seen such violence since the end of a 26-year civil war that ended over a decade ago. Then, rebels from the Tamil Tigers sought independence from the country’s Sinhala Buddhist majority. Sri Lanka’s prime minsiter Ranil Wickremesinghe called for calm on Twitter. “I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he wrote. “Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”The BBC reported that British nationals were among the injured. Prime Minister Theresa May called the attacks “truly appalling” adding “no one should ever have to practice their faith in fear”.U.S. President Donald Trump also tweeted his condolences, “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”The attacks sent officials around the world into high gear taking precautions at churches in preparation for Easter celebrations. A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed to The Daily Beast that the department has ramped up domestic security measures in the wake of the attacks, and that officers will be visiting all houses of worship, with a focus Sunday on those offering Easter services. —With reporting from Pervaiz Shallwani and Victoria AlbertRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Easter marred by Sri Lanka bombs, pope says in condemning blasts

Easter marred by Sri Lanka bombs, pope says in condemning blastsFrancis, speaking to a crowd of about 70,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, also urged politicians to shun a new arms race that was budding and to welcome refugees fleeing hunger and human rights violations. The blasts in Sri Lanka, which hospital and police officials said killed at least 138 people and wounded more than 400 people, followed a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. “I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka,” Francis said in his traditional Easter Sunday “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.



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Bombs kill more than 200 in Sri Lankan churches, hotels on Easter Sunday

Bombs kill more than 200 in Sri Lankan churches, hotels on Easter SundaySeven people were arrested and three police officers were killed during a security forces raid on a house in the Sri Lankan capital several hours after the attacks, many of which officials said were suicide bomb explosions. The government declared a curfew in Colombo and blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp. According to the information as of now we have 450 injured people admitted to hospitals,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told reporters.



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Israeli military bombs Gaza after rocket strike

Israeli military bombs Gaza after rocket strike* Five wounded as Israel strikes ‘Hamas terror targets’ * Hamas says Egypt has helped arrange a ceasefireFire and smoke billow above buildings in Gaza City during Israeli strikes. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty ImagesIsraeli forces and Hamas exchanged rocket fire on Monday night amid fears of a new conflict in Gaza.Israeli forces carried out strikes against what they called “Hamas terror targets” across the Gaza Strip, after an earlier rocket attack that destroyed a family home and wounded seven people in a neighbourhood north of Tel Aviv. The army also said it was reinforcing troops along the Gaza border and calling up reserves.The targets of the Israeli raids on Gaza included the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and a five-storey building in central Gaza City it said was a Hamas interior security office.Militants in Gaza then fired at least 10 rockets towards the southern Israeli town of Sderot, but no Israeli casualties were reported as a result of that attack.At 10pm on Monday, Hamas announced that a cease-fire had been brokered by Egyptian mediators. But shortly after, renewed rocket fire could be heard in Gaza, setting off air-raid sirens in southern Israel. Hamas’s leadership went into hiding after the first rocket attack, anticipating the Israeli response. The Gaza health ministry said five people were wounded by the airstrikes.The fighting broke out while the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in Washington to meeting Donald Trump. After receiving emphatic backing from Trump at the White House, Netanyahu announced he was cutting short his US trip to take command of operations.“Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate it,” Netanyahu said during his White House appearance. “As we speak, Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression.”Trump described the Hamas rocket attack as “horrific” and added: “The US recognises Israel’s absolute right to defend itself.”The clashes come at the height of a tight election before the Israeli vote on 9 April. Hamas is also under intense political pressure, with Gaza’s economy squeezed by an Israeli and Egyptian embargo, and sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank.Hamas and Israel have fought three conflicts in the past decade, and battled in dozens of minor flare-ups since the last one in 2014. With little to show for any previous violence, neither side has expressed interest in full-fledged war.However, the Monday morning missile strike obliterated the home of a British-Israeli family and comes during a period of heightened tension in Israel and the Palestinian territories. With a general election two weeks away, Netanyahu is under pressure from political opponents to hit back hard against militants, even as he has been counselled by military advisers of the futility of a fresh conflict.With opinion polls showing Netanyahu running neck and neck with his main opponent, Benny Gantz, the Israeli leader has sought to dismiss him as a “leftist” who is weak on security issues.Separately, this weekend marks the anniversary of a year-long protest movement along Israel’s frontier that its troops have responded to with lethal force, killing more than 180 people and shooting 6,000 others. Hamas, which backs the rallies, is expected to call for thousands to attend, while Israel has said it will continue its live fire policy against what it calls “violent riots”.Those protests were intended, in part, to pressure Israel and Egypt to lighten a punishing decade-long blockade on the 140 sq mile territory that has led to a humanitarian crisis and virtually imprisoned much of the population. But neither Israel nor Egypt have significantly changed their policy.Meanwhile, Hamas faces its own internal dissent against recent tax hikes and dire living conditions, and has forcefully suppressed local demonstrations during the past week.An Israeli military spokesperson said Monday’s rocket had a range of 75 miles, making it one of the farthest strikes ever carried out by militants in Gaza.“I have a simple message for Israel’s enemies,” Netanyahu said. “We will do whatever we must to to defend our people, and defend our state. After this meeting I will return home ahead of schedule, to lead the people of Israel, and the soldiers of Israel.”As a result of Netanyahu’s early return home, a dinner with Trump was cancelled as well as Netanyahu’s scheduled address to Aipac, the pro-Israel US lobby group.In an apparent attempt to de-escalate the situation, a Hamas official, speaking to the Agence France-Presse news agency on condition of anonymity, denied the group was behind the rocket launch, and even suggested the projectile was automatically fired by mistake following “bad weather”.The prime minister’s visit to Washington had been seen as an attempt to highlight his close and fruitful relationship with Trump before the election. Trump on Monday signed a proclamation formally recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Netanyahu said it was a “truly a historic day”, that “translates our military victory into a diplomatic victory”. He said that the Golan was “invaluable to our defences” and claimed that Israel had taken the territory “in a just war of self-defence”. He added: “The Jewish people have roots in the Golan that go back thousands of years.”Trump said: “This was a long time in the making. It should have taken place many decades ago.”The Syrian foreign ministry called the US proclamation a “blatant aggression” on its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. The ministry said the US move represents the “highest level of contempt for international legitimacy”.



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Israel strikes Gaza after border bombs

Israel strikes Gaza after border bombsIsraeli aircraft targeted Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip early Sunday after Palestinians there threw explosive devices at the border fence during “riots”, the army said. Also Sunday, the health ministry in Gaza announced the death of a Palestinian wounded previously in clashes with Israeli forces. Palestinians in Gaza had thrown a number of explosive devices toward the border fence with Israel, one of which set off air raid sirens in the south of the country late Saturday, the army said.



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On brink of Syria defeat, Islamic State unleashes car bombs

On brink of Syria defeat, Islamic State unleashes car bombsCapturing the village in eastern Syria will be a milestone in international efforts to roll back the jihadists, whose self-styled “caliphate” covered roughly one third of Syria and Iraq at its height in 2014. The SDF had said it expected a “decisive battle” on Sunday after advancing gradually for 18 hours to avoid land mines sown by Islamic State (IS), whose fighters are also using underground tunnels to stage ambushes and then disappear. By midday, however, there was no sign of the battle being over, and a spokesman for the U.S.-led international coalition supporting the SDF said the pace of the advance had ebbed.



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20 dead as bombs target Sunday Mass in Philippine cathedral

20 dead as bombs target Sunday Mass in Philippine cathedralJOLO, Philippines (AP) — Two bombs minutes apart tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 20 people and wounding 111 others during a Sunday Mass, officials said.



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Philippines vows to crush 'terrorists' after church bombs kill 20

Philippines vows to crush 'terrorists' after church bombs kill 20The first explosion went off inside the cathedral on Jolo island, in Sulu province, and was followed by a second blast outside, which was detonated as security forces raced to the scene, officials said. “The enemies of the state have boldly challenged the capability of the government to secure the safety of the citizenry in that region,” said Salvador Panelo, spokesman of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. “The armed forces of the Philippines will rise to the challenge and crush these godless criminals.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility but police suspect the bombings were the work of Abu Sayyaf, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and is notorious for its bombings and brutality.



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