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Death toll rises to 207 in Sri Lanka Churches and hotels attacks.

 

The secretary general of the world’s largest organisation of Muslim nations has condemned the Easter Sunday attacks that killed more than 200 people

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s chief Yousef al-Othaimeen described them as “cowardly attacks” that targeted innocent worshippers and civilians. Some 57 nations are part of the OIC, which is headquartered in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia also denounced the six nearly simultaneous attacks and described them as “terrorist explosions,” saying the kingdom extends its condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Sri Lanka.

Summary

  1. Eight blasts hit locations including churches and hotels across Sri Lanka, leaving at least 207 people dead and 450 injured
  2. Congregations were taking part in Easter Sunday services at the churches when the blasts hit
  3. The five-star Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the heart of Colombo were targeted
  4. The death toll could rise significantly as hospitals report casualty figures. At least 27 foreigners are known to have died
  5. At least seven people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, officials say

Source: BBCNews

 

 



Sri Lanka church explosions: More than 100 feared dead in Easter Sunday attacks

More than 100 people are feared dead and hundreds injured after several explosions at hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services.

At least six blasts have been reported, three at hotels and three at churches, with the first taking place at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.

Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticalao, in the east of the country.

An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.

Security forces secure the area around the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade
Security forces secure the area around the St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade

According to Sri Lankan media reports, at least 129 people have been killed. The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear.

Several foreign nationals are believed to be among the dead. The Foreign Office said it was “urgently seeking” information from authorities in Sri Lanka.

A spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reports of a number of explosions in Sri Lanka, including Colombo, and we are urgently seeking information from the local authorities.

“British nationals in Sri Lanka should follow the instructions of the local authorities and check FCO travel advice for updates.”

olice cordon off the area after a explosion hit at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade
Police cordon off the area after a explosion hit at St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade CREDIT: REX

Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast, with the floor littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.

Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries. The images could not immediately be verified.

“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,” read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.

According to AFP, Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”.

Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat.

“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,” said the alert.

The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.

Source: The Telegraph



Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Massacre Christians after Baby Dedication in Nigeria

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 17 Christians who had gathered after a baby dedication at a church in central Nigeria, including the mother of the child, sources said.

Safaratu John Kabiru Ali, the mother of the baby, was slain in the attack on Sunday (April 14) in Konshu-Numa village, in Nasarawa state’s Akwanga County, which also took the lives of people ranging in age from 10 to 80. The baby’s father, John Kabiru Ali, was shot and is in critical condition, sources said. He is receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, in Nasarawa state.

The attack took place at about 7 p.m. as Christians in the predominantly Christian community gathered to eat after the child was dedicated that morning at the Ruhaniya Baptist Church in the village.

The massacred Christians were buried on Wednesday (April 17) after a funeral service at the Baptist church.

A resident of Akwanga town who lost relatives in the shooting, Jacob Tantse, told Morning Star News that 17 Christians were killed, including 10 members of the Ruhaniya Baptist Church, five members of Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC), one member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), and a musician playing for guests.

Tantse identified those killed as Ali Nkene, 80; Gode Kako, 13; Afiniki Kako, 10; Matthew Emmanuel, 28; Tafiya Baya, 17; Sarakuna Haruna, 21; Amos Julius, 60; Mary Amos, 40; Sunday Adebayo John, 21; Talatu Mada, 40; Saratu Kabiru John, 21; Justina Barrau, 60; Simon Anfani, 37; Kadon Sule, 20; Ayuba Bulus, 11; Haruna Bawa, 22; and the musician, Samame Andaha, 28.

He also said eight Christians, including the host of the event, John Kabiru Ali, were wounded in the attack.

“They include members of the various congregations of the Baptist, Catholic, and ERCC churches,” Tantse said.

He identified those wounded as John Kabiru Ali, 32; Maikasuwa Engila, 30; Biyaya Engila, 60; Ayuba Maikano, 80; Juliana Clement, 47; Gode Tijani, 30; Nicholas Danzaria, 26; and Alkali Raba, 43.

The wounded are from ERCC churches in Ngah Bar-Numa and Angwan Pa-Numa villages; the Roman Catholic Church in Nghah-Numa; the ECWA church in Gyan-Numa; the Ruhaniya Baptist Church in Konshu-Numa; and the Nasara Baptist Church in Numa, he said.

Samuel Meshi, chairman of the Akwanga Local Government Council, told Morning Star News that area Christians had done nothing to provoke the attack by the Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

“They just started shooting sporadically on a community that was just having a feast of dedication of a child after a church service earlier in the day on Sunday, 14 April, at a Baptist church in the area,” Meshi said. “The killings occurred in the evening of that day. Unfortunately, these persons were killed in cold blood for just no reason.”

Pastor Samson Gamu Yare, community leader of the Mada ethnic group in Nasarawa state, reportedly described the killings as “barbaric.” He called on the federal government to urgently take measures towards curtailing the menace of herdsmen attacks on his people.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Source: Morning Star News



New York police arrest man with petrol in St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s is a Catholic cathedral in Manhattan built in the 19th Century

A man has been arrested after walking into New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral carrying two full petrol cans, lighter fluid and lighters, police say.

They say guards confronted the 37-year-old as he entered the Manhattan church on Wednesday evening.
He spilt gasoline on the ground and officers took him into custody.

Deputy police commissioner John Miller noted that the “suspicious” incident occurred just two days after a fire gutted Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

St Patrick’s is the seat of New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese.

“An individual walking into an iconic location like St Patrick’s cathedral carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters, is something we would have grave concern over,” Mr Miller told reporters.

The NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism however said it was “too early to say” whether terrorism was a motive.

When confronted outside the cathedral, the man told officers his vehicle had run out of fuel and he was cutting through the cathedral to get to it. He was arrested when police checked the van and saw it was not out of petrol.

“We don’t know what his mindset was,” Mr Miller said.

Investigators in Paris say renovation works at Notre-Dame could have accidentally sparked Monday’s fire.

The disaster has led to a surge in fundraising for black churches destroyed by an arsonist in the US earlier this year.

A 21-year-old accused of burning down three African-American churches in Louisiana was on Tuesday charged with hate crimes.

Source: BBC News



US Black church fires: Louisiana suspect charged with hate crimes

Prosecutors have filed new hate crime charges against a white man accused of burning down three African-American churches in the US state of Louisiana.

Holden Matthews, 21, the son of a local sheriff deputy, learned of the new charges during a court appearance on Monday when he pleaded not guilty.

During the hearing, the judge denied his bond request due to a “substantial amount of evidence” against him.
Officials had not previously cited race as a possible motive.

Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning said on Monday the suspect – who has no previous criminal record – should not be released because he presents “an immediate risk to public safety”.

“In my mind, I felt another fire was imminent,” Mr Browning said, describing the evidence investigators have found against Mr Matthews.

All three fires were started with gasoline and occurred around Opelousas, about 60 miles (100km) west of the state capital of Baton Rouge.

Among evidence presented during the pre-trial appearance, in which Mr Matthews was displayed on video feed from jail, Mr Browning testified that the suspect documented his alleged crimes through videos and photos on his phone.

After he was arrested, prosecutors found pictures of the flames that appeared to have been taken before firefighters arrived to extinguish them.

They also found news reports on his phone in which he had superimposed himself on those reports in order to claim responsibility while talking to a friend online.

“He actually superimposed himself on those news reports, claiming responsibility for these fires,” Mr Browning said.
Location data from his mobile phone and surveillance footage of his vehicle also tied him to each of the crime scenes.

Debris at one of the church fires in Louisiana’s St Landry Parish

Mr Matthews was arrested last week and charged with arson of a religious building before the state hate crime charges were added.

His arrest came over two weeks after the first fire broke out at the St Mary Baptist Church, followed by the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, which were each more than 100 years old.
During the search for a suspect, Governor John Bel Edwards said the attacks in the southern state were a reminder “of a very dark past of intimidation and fear”.

During Monday’s hearing, in which the suspect never spoke and entered his not guilty plea through a lawyer, investigators mentioned the suspect’s connection to black metal music.

He said that Mr Matthews had recently posted on Facebook about the Lords of Chaos – a film about a Norwegian black metal band that committed acts of violence in the 1990s.

Source: BBC News