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Islamic State group claims Sri Lanka suicide bombings

Islamic State group claims Sri Lanka suicide bombingsThe Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a devastating series of suicide attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 320 people. The claim, accompanied by a photo and video of the men the group said had unleashed the carnage, emerged more than two days after the near-simultaneous blasts ripped through three high-end hotels popular with foreigners and three churches packed with Christians celebrating Easter. Sri Lanka’s government had said initial investigations suggested the attack had been carried out as “retaliation” for shootings at two mosques in New Zealand last month that killed 50 people.



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Isil claims Sri Lanka attack as prime minister says there are militants with explosives on the run

Isil claims Sri Lanka attack as prime minister says there are militants with explosives on the runSri Lanka's prime minister has warned there are more explosives and militants "out there" after the Easter suicide bombings that killed 321 people. Ranil Wickremesinghe made the comment Tuesday at a news conference, and said some officials will likely lose their jobs over intelligence lapses surrounding the attack. His warning came as Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terror attack on its official Amaq news agency. The group posted an image of seven masked attackers and the unmasked ringleader, Zahran Hashim, in front of its black flag. In a statement the men were named as Abu Ubaida – thought to refer to Hashim - Abu Khalil, Abu Hamza, Abu al-Baraa, Abu Muhammad, Abu Abdulla and Abu al-Mukhtar. Isis's official news agency, Amaq, posted this image of eight attackers, including the previously identified Zahran Hashim (centre) Sri Lanka's defence minister on Tuesday declared the attacks were retaliation for a recent attack on mosques in New Zealand, adding that two domestic Islamist groups were believed to be responsible. Ruwan Wijewardene’s comments were made as the South Asian island held its first mass funeral for about 30 of the victims of Sunday’s serial suicide bombings in three high profile churches and three luxury hotels. Sri Lankan intelligence has named the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks as Moulvi Zahran Hashim, an extremist local cleric who incited his followers to violence with fiery sermons on his social media channels. CCTV video shows suspected suicide bomber entering St Sebastian's Church in Negombo Isil's brief statement said they targeted “nationals of the Crusader alliance and Christians”, but made no specific reference to the New Zealand mosque attacks. At the same time, AFP agency reported that two Muslim brothers carried out two of the hotel suicide blasts. The brothers, sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader, blew themselves up as guests queued for breakfast at the Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the capital Colombo. The brothers, whose names have not been revealed, were in their late twenties and operated their own "family cell", an investigation officer said. A suspected suicide bomber carries a backpack on a street in Negombo, Sri Lanka The Sri Lankan government revealed in 2016 that 32 Sri Lanka Muslims had travelled to Syria to join Isil. “All these (Muslims) are not from ordinary families. These people are from the families which are considered as well-educated and elite,” Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the country’s Justice Minister told parliament. said, adding that the government was aware of some foreigners coming to Sri Lanka to spread what he called Islamic extremism. A Syrian national was also arrested on Tuesday. It was not yet clear if he played a role in the attacks. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Mr Wijewardene told the Sri Lankan parliament the massacre was carried out by the obscure local National Thawheed Jamaath group along with another group called the JMI, an apparent reference to a little-known radical Islamist group in India called the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. Some experts have pointed out that the sophisticated nature of the attacks suggest that they would have required preparation that began before the Christchurch atrocity. Little is known about JMI, other than reports it was established last year and is affiliated to a similarly named group in Bangladesh. "The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," said Mr Wijewardene. A suspected suicide bomber carries a backpack on a street in Negombo, Sri Lanka Fifty people were killed in shooting attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15, and horrific footage of the bloodbath was livestreamed on social media channels. The Sri Lankan authorities are still investigating how local militants gained the training and equipment to carry out an assault that is now considered to be one of the worst global terrorist atrocities since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. One theory is that Sri Lankan extremists could have been assisted by returning fighters from Iraq and Syria. It also emerged on Tuesday that Sri Lankan police are holding a Syrian national in custody for questioning over the Easter Sunday attacks. "The terrorist investigation division of the police arrested a Syrian national following the attacks for interrogation," a source told Reuters. Two other officials with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the detention. "He was arrested after interrogation of local suspects," a second source said. Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack. Sri Lanka attacks – Locator map The first mass funeral took place at St Sebastian church in Negombo, north of Colombo, which was one of the places targeted in Sunday's blasts. A moment of silence was observed at 08:30, to mark the timing of the first bomb on Sunday morning. Flags were lowered to half-mast and people, many of them in tears, bowed their heads in respect.



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IS claims deadly attack on Afghan ministry

IS claims deadly attack on Afghan ministryThe Islamic State group Sunday claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 people and trapped around 2,000 for hours inside the communications ministry in the Afghan capital the previous day. Four IS jihadists detonated explosives near the ministry, then entered and “battled Afghan security forces with machine guns and hand grenades for numerous hours”, the group said in a statement on its social media channels. The attack in central Kabul killed seven civilians and three members of the security forces, the interior ministry said on Sunday, in a new toll after three people died of their wounds.



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Going beyond Barr, Trump claims 'illegal spying' on campaign

Going beyond Barr, Trump claims 'illegal spying' on campaignWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump seemed gratified Thursday that his attorney general has endorsed a key talking point of the president's supporters: that there was spying on Trump's 2016 campaign. But Trump went a step beyond Attorney General William Barr, accusing the government of committing an illegal, unprecedented act.



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Trump told border agents to break the law but bosses told them to ignore him, report claims

Trump told border agents to break the law but bosses told them to ignore him, report claimsDonald Trump reportedly encouraged agents working at the US-Mexico border to deny asylum seekers entry, an action which would have violated US law.The president first discussed the idea during an Oval Office meeting on 21 March with senior administration officials.Those present included Kirstjen Nielsen, who was then secretary for Homeland Security and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, according to CNN.Mercedes Schlapp and Dan Scavino, the president’s advisers, were also present, as was Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law.Ms Nielsen told the president that barring asylum seekers from the US was against the law.The official discussed the issue with Mr Cipollone, who confirmed that she was correct.Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, people arriving at the border “may apply for asylum”, a right which is reinforced under international law as the US is a signatory to the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention.Mr Trump visited border agents in Calexico, a city in California on 5 April.“We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in!” he said during the visit.“Our country is full, what can you do?” We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”CNN reported two sources said the president privately told border agents to deny asylum seekers entry to the US.They said he encouraged them to tell judges who objected to the idea that the US had no room for migrants, but that after Mr Trump departed, the border agents looked to their superiors for guidance.Officials told the agents to follow the law, adding that they were not being told to deny migrants entry and that if they did so, they would bear personal legal liability.Following the Oval Office meeting in March the president also ordered Ms Nielsen to close the border in the Texan city of El Paso.The official criticised the idea, which was eventually abandoned.It comes days after the president said "frankly, we should get rid of judges", during an extended attack on the country's asylum system.On Sunday the president announced Ms Nielsen would be leaving her post.During her tenure the 46-year-old became the face of some of the president’s most controversial immigration policies, including that of separating children from their parents at the border.In May 2018, it was reported that she drafted a resignation letter after Mr Trump berated her in front of other Cabinet secretaries over the situation at the border.Kevin McAleenan, the current US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner​, has been appointed Acting Secretary of Homeland Security following Ms Nielsen’s departure.



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Kirstjen Nielsen: Trump 'berated homeland security secretary' early in the morning and demanded illegal actions, report claims

Kirstjen Nielsen: Trump 'berated homeland security secretary' early in the morning and demanded illegal actions, report claimsKirstjen Nielsen, the US homeland security secretary who helped enforce President Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policies, has resigned amid claims of a contentious working relationship with the US leader. According to The New York Times, Ms Nielson has had a rough ride since she took the job in December 2017 and was "regularly berated" by Trump, who is said to have demanded that she take a more aggressive approach to tighten immigration.During her tenure, Ms Nielsen became the face of the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policy, under which anyone who crossed America’s border illegally was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.She was notably tasked with defending Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico and the separation of migrant children from their families.In May 2018, it was reported that she drafted her resignation letter after Trump berated her in front of other Cabinet secretaries over the influx of migrant crossings at the border.He is said to have criticised her after she hesitated for weeks about whether to sign a memo ordering the routine separation of migrant children from their families so that the parents could be detained.Despite her loyalty, leaks from the White House in November 2018 suggested she would be out by the end of the year as Trump allegedly complained constantly about her performance.She was reportedly asked to close all ports of entry and stop allowing individuals requesting asylum into the country, a move she reportedly did not support or consider effective.A senior administration official told CNN that Ms Nielsen “believed the situation was becoming untenable with the President becoming increasingly unhinged about the border crisis and making unreasonable and even impossible requests.”> Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….> > — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) > > April 7, 2019In her resignation letter, Ms Nielson placed blame on Congress and courts for the ongoing border crisis, saying limitations were imposed on her department.“I hope that the next Secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America's borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation's discourse,” she wrote. “Our country and the men and women of DHS deserve to have all the tools and resources they need to execute the mission entrusted to them.”Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said Ms Nielsen’s tenure at DHS “was a disaster from the start” but insisted she couldn’t be used as a scapegoat for Trump’s cruel policies.“It is clearer now than ever that the Trump administration's border security and immigration policies – that she enacted and helped craft – have been an abysmal failure and have helped create the humanitarian crisis at the border,” Mr Thompson said in a statement.“It is truly unfortunate that Nielsen refused to take responsibility for her actions and was simply unable to lead and stand up to the president for his misguided, wall obsessed anti-immigrant agenda.”The president publicly thanked Ms Nielsen for her service in a tweet on Sunday night.“I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”She is the latest high-profile figures to leave his administration.



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Ecuador Rejects WikiLeaks Claims That It Plans to Expel Assange

Ecuador Rejects WikiLeaks Claims That It Plans to Expel AssangeIn a statement Friday evening, Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry denied it has an agreement with the U.K. about Assange’s arrest. WikiLeaks said earlier on Twitter that Ecuador was about to expel its founder within “hours to days,” citing what it called a high level source within the Ecuadorian government.



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Feds: man jailed after claim has twice made similar claims

Feds: man jailed after claim has twice made similar claimsCINCINNATI (AP) — The Latest on the investigation of a man who allegedly claimed to be a long-missing child from Illinois (all times local):



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Further claims of inappropriate behavior put Joe Biden's 2020 presidential bid in doubt

Further claims of inappropriate behavior put Joe Biden's 2020 presidential bid in doubtTwo more women have claimed that Joe Biden inappropriately touched them, in a further blow to the former US Vice President said to be considering a bid for the White House.  Caitlyn Caruso, 22, told the New York Times on Tuesday that Mr Biden hugged her "just a little bit too long" when she was 19 at a University of Nevada event on sexual harassment.   According to the former student, the senior Democrat rested his hand on her thigh moments after Miss Caruso had shared a personal story of sexual assault.  She said: “It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that". A second women, 59-year-old DJ Hill, also told the New York Times that Mr Biden had placed his hands on her shoulders and dropped them down her back at a 2012 campaign event in Minneapolis.  The new claims follow that of Amy Lappos, who said Mr Biden had rubbed noses with her, and Lucy Flores, who claimed Biden had kissed her on the back.  US President Donald Trump took a shot on Tuesday at Mr Biden, a possible Democratic rival in the 2020 race for the White House, mocking him over allegations of unwanted physical contact with women. In a speech to a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee, President Trump twice alluded to the allegations from two women that are hanging over Mr Biden as he weighs whether to enter the contest to become the Democratic candidate in November 2020 presidential elections. Caitlyn Caruso, a survivor of sexual assault, speaks before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden as part of the national It's On Us Week of Action  Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images A former Nevada state legislator last week accused Mr Biden of kissing her on the back of the head at a 2014 event, and a Connecticut woman said Mr Biden rubbed noses with her at a 2009 event. Biden has said he did not believe he ever acted inappropriately, and his defenders have said he is known for hugging and being physically affectionate. In wide-ranging remarks that meandered for more than 80 minutes but often circled back to the 2020 race, Mr Biden was the only potential rival President Trump mentioned by name – a sign that he would view Mr Biden as a strong challenger, were he to enter and win the Democratic race. Joe Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama and had a long career in the Senate before that. He had been expected to announce his bid for the Democratic primary race this month and has led the large field of Democratic hopefuls in opinion polls. President Trump told the dinner, which raised $ 23 million for Republicans running for the House of Representatives, a story about wanting to kiss a general he met in Iraq who had promised an expedient end to a campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria. Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Spring Dinner Credit: Ron Sachs/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX "I said, 'General: come here and give me a kiss.' I felt like Joe Biden," Mr Trump said, drawing laughter and applause. Earlier, he told the crowd – which was dotted with members of the House – that they would be "going into the war with some socialists" in the next election. "It looks like the only non-, sort of, heavy socialist is being taken care of pretty well by the socialists," Trump said. One of Biden's accusers has been a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, who has already entered the Democratic primary race, and whose views are to the left of Biden. "I was going to call him – I don't know him well – I was going to say, 'Welcome to the world, Joe. You having a good time, Joe? You having a good time?" President Trump said. Mr Trump struggled during his 2016 run for office with multiple accusations of unwanted sexual contact from women, particularly after videotaped remarks emerged of Mr Trump bragging about groping women. Mr Biden, while campaigning for Mr Trump's Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, had said he would like to take Trump "behind the gym" to beat him up for the comments. In defence, the Democrat said: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort," he responded. "And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear.



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Teen found in Kentucky claims he is boy missing since 2011, DNA test results awaited

Teen found in Kentucky claims he is boy missing since 2011, DNA test results awaitedPitzen went missing eight years ago at the age of six, after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, pulled him out of his suburban Chicago school and took him on a trip to a zoo and a water park. “You will never find him.” Her words rang true until Wednesday, when a woman in Newport, Kentucky, found a teenager wandering lost and scared. The boy said he had been held captive for seven years by two white men he descried as “body-builder types,” until he escaped and ran across a bridge from Ohio into Kentucky.



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