Tag Archives: Easter

Sri Lanka police hunt 140 after Easter bombings as shooting erupts in east

Sri Lanka police hunt 140 after Easter bombings as shooting erupts in eastMuslims in Sri Lanka were urged to pray at home after the State Intelligence Services warned of possible car bomb attacks, amid fears of retaliatory violence. Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told reporters he had seen a leaked internal security document warning of further attacks on churches and there would be no Catholic masses this Sunday anywhere on the island. The streets of Colombo were deserted on Friday evening, with many people leaving offices early amid tight security after the suicide bombing attacks on three churches and four hotels that also wounded about 500 people.



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'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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Sri Lankan military in gun battle with Easter bombing suspects as huge cache of explosives found

Sri Lankan military in gun battle with Easter bombing suspects as huge cache of explosives foundSri Lankan soldiers on Friday night fought a gun battle with suspected militants and found a large cache of bomb materials as they hunted survivors of Easter Sunday's terrorist bombing ring. Soldiers exchanged gunfire raiding a building in Sennal Kiramam, Sainthamaruthu, in eastern Sri Lanka, with residents hearing several explosions. Earlier, detectives had found nearby a cache of explosives, drones and an Islamic State group banner and robes used in a propaganda video recorded before the bombers detonated in crowded hotels and restaurants. The bombers filmed themselves swearing allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil) before they killed 253 Christians, hotels guests and staff. The clashes on Friday came as the country remained on high alert and thousands of extra security forces had been drafted onto the streets. Sri Lankan authorities also said the extremist preacher suspected of masterminding and leading the bombings died in the blast at the Shangri La hotel, where British victims died. The interior of St Anthony's Shrine five days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday Credit:  AFP Mohamed Zahran, the leader of the local jihadi group National Thawheed Jamath, known for his incendiary speeches on social media, was one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on three hotels and three churches, the police said on an official Twitter account. Detectives had also arrested the group's second-in-command and that the militants' military training was provided by “Army Mohideen” and weapons training had taken place overseas and at some locations in Sri Lanka’s Eastern province.  Maithripala Sirisena, the president, said the group was driven by “religious fanaticism,” suggesting its leader had killed himself to “set an example” and gain more followers. However, Chula Senaviratne, the national security chief, said there was “still ambiguity whether he is dead or not” while DNA tests are being carried out. Members of the public join in an interfaith candlelight vigil during a Mass of Remembrance  Credit:  BIANCA DEMARCHI/REX “There is strong likelihood that the decapitated head of the suicide bomber at Shangri La was the same person we identified in the photographs…” he added. “However, we cannot be absolutely certain.” Sri Lankan officials have made claims and counterclaims in the chaotic aftermath of Sunday’s atrocities as security forces rush to detain suspects and the government reels from failures to act on warnings that bombings were imminent. Security agencies are also trying to track down hauls of explosives, some of which may have been left over from Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war. President Sirisena told reporters in Colombo that some 140 people had been been identified as having links to the Islamic State group, although he reassured the public that the Sri Lankan government has “the capability to completely control ISIS activities”. The government has apologised for its failure to act on precise and repeated alerts from India named that suspects who were planning to attack local churches. Sri Lanka's Catholic leader said he felt “betrayed” by the failure to act on warnings that could have prevented the bloodshed. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, said he had asked for an explanation, but not received an answer. olice officers patrol the area around Dawatagaha Jumma Masjid ahead of Friday prayers Credit: Carl Court/Getty As fears of retaliation or follow-up attacks continued, Muslims were asked to stay at home to pray rather than attend Friday prayers in mosques that could also be targeted by extremists. The Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that seven suicide bombers carried out the attacks, including Adbul Lathief Jameel Mohammed who studied engineering for a year in the UK. They said all the bombers came from a middle-class, educated background. In new details that emerged on Friday, the police said that the attackers had worked out at a local gym and by playing soccer using their authentic national identity cards. They added that the vehicles used in the attack were purchased from a car dealership in Kadawatha, a suburb of the capital. They said that the operator of a copper factory who was arrested in connection with the bombings had helped Mohideen make improvised explosive devices and purchase empty cartridges sold by the Sri Lankan military as scrap copper. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, has said investigators are still working to determine the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.



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Suspects in Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka still at large, may be carrying explosives

Suspects in Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka still at large, may be carrying explosivesAt least 58 people have been detained in connection with the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, among the world's worst terrorist attacks since 9/11.



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Easter Massacre Opens Door for Strongman to Return in Sri Lanka

Easter Massacre Opens Door for Strongman to Return in Sri LankaThe star-studded event, featuring both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, underscored the importance of the property beyond simply attracting more tourists: It was also a monument to Sri Lanka’s resurgence following a brutal three-decade civil war between the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese majority and predominately Hindu Tamils. The Shangri-La was built on the old site of the army headquarters, which was shifted outside the city after former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government won a decisive victory in 2009 with tactics criticized by human-rights activists. The Easter Sunday bombings that tore apart the Shangri-La, two nearby luxury hotels and three Christian churches have made security a top-of-mind concern in Colombo once again.



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Rapper TI helps bail out 23 prisoners in time to spend Easter with their families

Rapper TI helps bail out 23 prisoners in time to spend Easter with their familiesRapper TI has helped bail out 23 prisoners who would have spent Easter behind bars.Seven women and 16 men, all non-violent prisoners and mostly first-time offenders, arrived home just in time for the holiday thanks to the Bail Out programme.Each inmate is to be connected to a mentor and given job training and funds for their children’s college savings in a bid to “stop the cycle”.The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia initially set out to raise $ 40,000 for the programme, in partnership with TI and American reality TV star Scrapp Deleon, but donations topped $ 120,000 (£92,400) a month later.Jamal Bryant, a senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, said in an Instagram post on Saturday: “Today we @newbirthmbc are bailing out of prison those who are non violent offenders in 3 counties here in Georgia. “We raised 120k over lent to get it done exceeding initial goal of 40k. In addition we are Putting them in job training programs. “We opening college fund accounts for their children at citizens trust bank (black owned) to stop the cycle.”The New Birth church said the programme was “designed to give men and women a second chance”.The programme targeted people in DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Rockdale counties. Mr Bryant said it was a way for the church to be more outspoken when it came to prison reform.TI, whose real name is Clifford Harris, is a Grammy-winning artist with multiple platinum-selling albums and singles.



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Christians, hotel workers, tourists among Easter attack dead

Christians, hotel workers, tourists among Easter attack deadCOLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — More than 350 people were killed in bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.



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Who was behind the Sri Lanka bombings? Everything we know so far about the Easter Sunday attacks

Who was behind the Sri Lanka bombings? Everything we know so far about the Easter Sunday attacksEaster Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and four hotels killed 310 people and wounded around 500, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. The explosions, some of which officials said were suicide bomb attacks, led to an immediate clampdown, with the government declaring a curfew and blocking access to most major social media and messaging sites. What happened? The powerful blasts – six in quick succession and then two more hours later – wrought devastation, including at the capital's well-known St Anthony's Shrine, a historic Catholic Church. The three hotels hit in the initial attacks were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. pic gallery The first six explosions were all reported within a short period in the morning just as church services were starting. Hours later there were two further attacks in the outskirts of Colombo. Police the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. Who were the victims? The death toll rose to 310 on Tuesday after several people died of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said. There were hundreds of people injured in hospitals. There were eight British citizens killed in the attack, two of whom had dual US nationality. Ben Nicholson said his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, had been killed as they sat at a table for breakfast in the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday. "Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering," Mr Nicholson said.  Ben Nicholson (right) with the other members of his family who were killed  Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15, were having breakfast with their father Matthew at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel when the suicide bomber struck. Dr Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop were staying in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel when one of the seven suicide bombers struck. The Manchester couple had been living in the Australian city of Perth since 2013 where Dr Bradley was practising medicine, but were due to return to the UK soon. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she lost a relative in the attacks. "It is all so devastating," she wrote on Twitter. "Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka." The first American victim of the Sri Lanka terror attack has been named as 40-year-old Dieter Kowalski.  Mr Kowalski, from Denver, Colorado, checked into the luxury Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo just hours before it was targeted by the bombers.  Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. Three Indians, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals were killed, while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing. A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims. Read more about the victims.  Who was behind the attacks? A police spokesman said on Tuesday 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks. A Sri Lankan government official said the attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a domestic militant group named National Thowfeek Jamaath. There was no claim of responsibility on Monday. All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference. Earlier, Ariyananda Welianga, a government forensic crime investigator, said an analysis of the attackers' body parts made clear that they were suicide bombers. He said most of the attacks were carried out by a single bomber, with two at Colombo's Shangri-La Hotel. Documents seen by AFP show that Sri Lanka's police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches". "A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," the alert said. The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that was linked last year to the vandalism of Buddhist statues. Sri Lankan police were holding a Syrian national in custody for questioning, three government and military sources told Reuters on Tuesday. "The terrorist investigation division of the police arrested a Syrian national following the attacks for interrogation," a source said. Two other officials with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the detention. "He was arrested after interrogation of local suspects," a second source said. Key intelligence on a possible terrorist attack was not passed onto the Sri Lankan government weeks before the attack.  Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged late on Sunday that “information was there” about possible attacks, adding that “we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken.” How did Sri Lanka react? The government beefed up security and imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the country. It also put in place a "temporary" ban on social media platforms "in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread". Security at Colombo's airport was also enhanced, according to Sri Lankan Airlines, which advised its passengers to arrive four hours before their flights. It added that passengers with passports and tickets will be able to reach the airport during the curfew. he front page of a Sri Lankan newspaper, showing coverage of the Easter Sunday blasts, hangs at a newsstand in Colombo  Credit: AFP The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka's government to "mercilessly" punish those responsible "because only animals can behave like that." Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka also condemned the church attacks. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourned the loss of innocent people in the blasts by extremists who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups. The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama a body of Muslim clerics, said targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted. Embassies in Sri Lanka have warned their citizens to shelter in place. Here is a round-up of the world's reaction to the atrocity.



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PHOTOS: Bombings turn Easter into tragedy in Sri Lanka

PHOTOS: Bombings turn Easter into tragedy in Sri LankaCoordinated bombings turned Easter Sunday festivities into a national tragedy in Sri Lanka, killing at least 321 people and wounding more than 500 others. The nine blasts mainly targeted churches and luxury hotels in the country's deadliest violence since its civil war ended a decade ago.



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A 5th Grader and a 'Big-Hearted' American. These Are Some of the Victims of Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings

A 5th Grader and a 'Big-Hearted' American. These Are Some of the Victims of Sri Lanka's Easter BombingsAt least four Americans were among the nearly 300 killed, officials said



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