Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.
Saudi Arabia has announced it will
respond with “necessary measures” to attacks on two oil facilities as
it reiterated the accusation that Iran was behind them.
Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the weapons used were Iranian and vowed to release
the full findings of the investigation.
However, Iran denies involvement in
Earlier, a senior Iranian military
official said Iran was ready to destroy any aggressor after the US announced it
was sending troops to Saudi Arabia.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in
Yemen have said they were responsible for the drone and missile strikes on September
14 that affected the global oil supply.
Tensions between the US and Iran
have escalated since President Donald Trump abandoned a deal limiting Iran’s
nuclear activities last year and reinstated sanctions.
Speaking to reporters in Riyadh,
Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was in consultation with its allies and would
take necessary and suitable measures after its investigation was complete,
without giving details of possible actions.
The Saudi minister repeated that the
strikes targeting the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field had come
from the north and not from Yemen but did not give a specific location, and
urged the international community to take a stand.
He said: “The kingdom calls upon the international community to assume its
responsibility in condemning those that stand behind this act, and to take a
firm and clear position against this reckless behavior that threatens the
The Saudi defense ministry showed
off on September 18 what it said were the remains of drones and cruise missiles
proving Iranian involvement.
The US has also accused Iran of being behind the attacks, and unnamed senior
officials have told US media that the evidence suggests the strikes originated
in the south of Iran.
On September 20, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the US would send a
yet-to-be-decided number of troops to Saudi Arabia to boost the country’s air
and missile defenses.
President Donald Trump then announced new sanctions against Iran, focusing on the country’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, while signaling that he wanted to avoid military conflict.
President Trump said in a brief statement issued by the White House: “Hamza Bin Laden, the high-ranking al-Qaeda member and son of Osama Bin Laden, was killed in a United States counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.
“The loss of Hamza Bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda
of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but
undermines important operational activities of the group.”
The statement did not specify the
timing of the operation.
As recently as February, the US
government had offered $1million for information leading to Hamza Bin Laden’s
Hamza Bin Laden was seen as an emerging leader of al-Qaeda. It was reported in August that he had been killed in a military operation in the last two years and the US government was involved, but the exact date and time were unclear.
Demonstrators took to the streets in the Wan Chai district, many joining a
Christian march, while others protested in the Causeway Bay shopping district
in the pouring rain. Many carried umbrellas and wore face masks.
On the 13th weekend of protests, demonstrators – chanting “stand with
Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom” – gathered outside government
offices, the local headquarters of China’s People’s Liberation Army and the
city’s parliament, known as the Legislative Council.
In the Admiralty district, some demonstrators threw fire bombs towards
officers. Earlier, protesters marched near the official residence of embattled
leader Carrie Lam, who is the focal point of much of the anger.
Police had erected barriers around key buildings and road blocks, and fired
tear gas and jets of blue-dyed water from the water cannon. The colored liquid
is traditionally used to make it easier for police to identify protesters.
The recent demonstrations have been characterized as leaderless.
On August 30, police had appealed to members of the public to cut ties with
“violent protesters” and had warned people not to take part in the
Police made a number of arrests on August 31.
During a 24-hour police crackdown, at least three activists – including
prominent 23-year-old campaigner Joshua Wong – and three lawmakers were
Joshua Wong, who first rose to prominence as the poster boy of a protest
movement that swept Hong Kong in 2014, was released on bail after being charged
over the protests which have rocked the territory since June.
Hong Kong is part of China, but enjoys “special freedoms”. Those
are set to expire in 2047, and many in Hong Kong do not want to become
“another Chinese city”.
Beijing has repeatedly condemned the protesters and described their actions
as “close to terrorism”. The protests have frequently escalated into
violence between police and activists, with injuries on both sides.
Activists are increasingly concerned that China might use military force to
On August 29, Beijing moved a new batch of troops into Hong Kong, a move Chinese state media described as a routine annual rotation.
Protesters initially gathered in Mong Kok, a Hong Kong district where
violent clashes took place during pro-democracy protests in 2014.
A group of demonstrators briefly blocked access to the Cross Harbour Tunnel,
causing traffic chaos, while others set up make-shift barricades on shopping
As the demonstrations dragged into the night, protesters gathered outside
the police station in Tsim Sha Tsui district. Officers then fired tear gas at
The South China Morning Post published
a police statement saying the “radical” group had set fires nearby and
had thrown bricks into the building.
The march comes after a group of civil servants – ordered to be politically
neutral – joined demonstrations in their thousands on August 2.
The rally followed the publication of an anonymous letter on Facebook
complaining about “extreme oppression” and listing five key demands –
the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; waiving charges against those
arrested; an end to descriptions of protests as “rioting”; an
independent inquiry into the unrest; and resuming political reforms.
Supporters of Hong Kong’s police force also gathered earlier for a rally in Victoria
Some unions and organizations have reportedly already agreed to take part in the strike planned for August 5. There are also further demonstrations planned for August 4.
Six days ago, North Korea fired two
short range missiles, one of which travelled about 425 miles and the other 268
That launch was the first since President Trump and Kim Jong-un held an
impromptu meeting in June at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), an area that divides
the two Koreas, where they agreed to restarted denuclearization talks.
North Korea has recently again voiced anger over planned military exercises
between South Korea and the US, an annual event which the allies have refused
to cancel but have scaled back significantly.
One analyst said more missile tests could be expected.
North Korea called the drills a “violation of the spirit” of the
joint statement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un at their first
face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.
Pyongyang had warned the exercises could affect the resumption of
On July 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hoped these talks
could start “very soon”, but that there were no further summits
Last year, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Tear gas has been fired by Hong Kong riot police at an unauthorized protest held by tens of thousands of people to condemn an attack by armed masked men last week.
As a small group of protesters refused to disperse in the northern district
of Yuen Long, police fired rubber bullets.
The protest took place where pro-democracy protesters had been attacked by
suspected triad gang members.
Police have been accused of turning a blind eye and colluding with the
attackers, claims they deny.
There were seven weeks of anti-government and pro-democracy protests in Hong
Kong sparked by a controversial bill that would have enabled extraditions to
The government has since halted the legislation but protesters have demanded
its complete withdrawal, as well as an inquiry into police violence, democratic
reform, and that Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam resign.
The July 27 rally had been banned by
the police, a highly unusual move in the territory, where protests are usually
Police say they refused permission
because they feared violent clashes between protesters and residents.
The march was planned as a response
to last Sunday’s attack, in which about 100 men descended on Yuen Long’s metro
station, beating protesters – as well as passersby and journalists – with
wooden and metal sticks.
The attack left 45 people injured
and was widely blamed on triad gang members. They appeared to target those
wearing black, the color people had been told to wear for the protest.
Triads are known to be active in Yuen Long – located in a rural northern
district in Hong Kong, near mainland China – and many local villagers have also
expressed opposition to the pro-democracy protests.
Tens of thousands defied the police ban and approached Yuen Long on July 27,
marching down some of the main roads.
Police observed and filmed the start of the protest, and riot police could
be seen on standby.
They said some protesters were holding iron poles and shields, and
“even removing fences from roads”.
Some protesters also surrounded and vandalized a police vehicle,
“causing danger to the life of the police officers on board”, they
Shortly after 17:00 local time, police began firing several rounds of tear
gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
The protesters – most wearing masks and hard hats – threw projectiles and swore
at police – but also parted to allow ambulances to go through.
Later in the evening, in an attempt to clear several hundred demonstrators,
police fired rubber bullets, injuring at least nine people, according to the
AFP news agency.
Protesters have been demanding an independent inquiry into police violence,
saying police used excessive force in several anti-extradition bill and
Demonstrators and pro-democracy legislators have alleged that the
authorities – including the police and pro-government legislators – had advance
knowledge of the attack.
Police say suggestions that they colluded with criminal gangs were a
“smear”, and that 12 people have so far been arrested, including nine
men with links to triads.
There have also been growing tensions between protesters and pro-Beijing
Earlier this week, pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho’s office was ransacked,
and his parents’ graves were vandalized.
Junius Ho had come under criticism after video footage showed him shaking
hands with white-shirted men on July 27 shortly before the attacks.
He said he did not know about the attack, but defended the men, saying they were simply “defending their home and people”.
The missile launch also comes after anger from North Korea over planned
military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. North Korea
warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.
About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security
agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.
In 2018, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would
no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of
North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the
country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.
North Korea also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new
weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week Kim Jong-un
inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be
developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.
In May, Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch, its
first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.
President Trump responded then by saying he believed Kim Jong-un would not do
anything that could jeopardize his country’s path towards better relations.
Donald Trump tweeted that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.
On July 6, North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA said that Alek Sigley
had “on numerous occasions transferred information, including photographs
and analysis that he gathered while travelling to every corner of Pyongyang
using his status as an international student”.
Alek Sigley had done this “upon request by anti-DPRK [North Korea] news
outlets such as NK news”, KCNA added.
The North Korean government decided to deport him on humanitarian grounds
after he “honestly admitted that he had been spying… and repeatedly
asked for our forgiveness for infringing on our sovereignty”, it said.
North Korea often accuses foreigners detained in its country of espionage or
In a statement, NK News, a website specializing in North Korean news and analysis,
said it appreciated “the DPRK’s decision to promptly release Sigley on
The website said it had published six articles from Alek Sigley which showed “vignettes of ordinary daily life in the capital”.“The six articles Alek published represent the full extent of his work with us and the idea that those columns, published transparently under his name between January and April 2019, are ‘anti-state’ in nature is a misrepresentation which we reject.”
With no time for the all-important backroom diplomacy, it was expected to be
largely a photo opportunity. However, the dramatic meeting will be seen as a sign
of their ongoing commitment to the denuclearization talks.
Negotiations with North Korea, to try to convince it to abandon its
controversial nuclear program, reached a peak last year when Donald Trump and Kim
Jong-un had a historic meeting in Singapore.
They both committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the
Korean peninsula, but without clarifying what that meant.
It was hoped their second meeting,
in Hanoi in February 2019, would make some concrete agreement about North Korea
handing over its nuclear program in exchange for some of the tight sanctions
against it being lifted.
Hwever, those talks ended with no
deal, as they failed to agree on the pace at which sanctions should be eased.
Since then the negotiations have stalled, though Kim Jong-un and President Trump
have exchanged letters recently.
The DMZ, which runs about 2.5 miles
wide and 155 miles long, has divided the peninsula since the Korean War ended
Though that area, by definition, has no military installations or personnel,
beyond it lies one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.
The Joint Security Area (JSA) located at the Panmunjom village straddles the
Military Demarcation Line and is where all negotiations between the two Koreas
Tourists can also go to the JSA when relations between North Korea and South Korea – still technically at war – allow it. No US sitting US president has been inside it. Bill Clinton once described it as the “scariest place on Earth”.
In 2018, the US unilaterally pulled
out of a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities.
“Iran can NEVER have nuclear weapons,” President Trump said in his tweets on the aborted strikes –
also revealing that increased economic sanctions against Iran were “added
The US has now asked the UN Security
Council to meet on June 24 to discuss Iran, Reuters reports.
In its initial report, The New York Times said that as late as
19:00 local time on June 20, US military and diplomatic officials had still
expected the strikes to take place on agreed targets, including Iranian radar
and missile batteries.
However, President Trump refuted
this report on June 21, telling NBC that no planes were in the air.
The strikes had been set to take place
just before dawn on June 21 to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to
civilians, the New York Times report
Tweeting on June 21, President Trump
said three sites had been targeted.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press quoted a US official as saying the strikes
had been recommended by the Pentagon and had been among options presented to
senior administration officials.
According to the New York Times,
top Pentagon officials warned a military response could result in a spiraling
escalation with risks for US forces in the region.
The operation was called off after President Trump spent most of day on June
20 discussing Iran with his national security advisers and congressional
leaders, AP reports.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton had
pushed for a hard-line stance, but congressional leaders urged caution, the
Separately, Reuters quoted two Iranian officials as saying Tehran had
received a message from President Trump through Oman overnight warning about an
imminent US attack.
That report was later denied by a spokesman for Iran’s National Security Council,
who said there was no truth to it and no message was sent.
In the US, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said America had no
appetite for war with Iran, while the leading candidate for the Democratic
presidential nomination, Joe Biden, called President Trump’s Iran strategy a
Russian President Vladimir Putin said a war would be a “catastrophe
with unpredictable consequences”.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise maximum
On June 20, the FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting US airlines from
operating in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace nearby in
Airlines from other countries, as KLM, Emirates, British Airways and Qantas, have also said they will re-route their flights to avoid parts of Iran.
Turkey has been threatened with sanctions by
the EU if it continues “illegal drilling” in waters near Cyprus in
the eastern Mediterranean.
The warning came at an EU summit in Brussels.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Turkey’s actions
On June 20, Turkey launched the Yavuz, a second drilling ship for natural
gas and oil prospecting off Cyprus.
The Republic of Cyprus is an EU member, but the breakaway north is
The European Council called on Turkey to “show restraint, respect the
sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions”.
The statement said: “The European
Council endorses the invitation to the [EU] Commission and the EEAS [EU foreign
affairs service] to submit options for appropriate measures without delay,
including targeted measures.”
The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by
Turkey, and is internationally isolated.
Turkey said it was drilling inside
its continental shelf, complying with international law.
A Turkish drilling ship, the Fatih,
had been anchored west of Cyprus since early May and had begun drilling, the
Turkey is a candidate for EU
membership but its negotiations are currently frozen. The EU Commission has
said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has backtracked on pledges to
improve justice and the rule of law. The Turkish government has purged state
institutions since an abortive coup attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdogan in
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said the
threatened EU measures “are against companies and individuals, a possible
EU accession process freeze and measures with significant economic
He said at Brussels summit: “These will take place unless Turkey
stops its illegal operations inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.”
Turkey – a key NATO partner for the
West – has extensive trade ties with the EU and has not yet been hit with EU
sanctions, unlike Russia.
The US has also threatened Turkey with sanctions if President Erdogan goes ahead with a deal to buy S-400 air defense missiles from Russia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran
for “unprovoked attacks” on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on
The US had made its assessment based on intelligence about the type of
weapons used, he said.
Dozens of crew members were rescued after the explosions at the
Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, owned by Norway.
Both Iran and the US said they evacuated the crew.
“It is the assessment of the United States that the
Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks,” the secretary of state said at a news conference in
“This is based on intelligence,
the weapons used, the level of expertise need to execute the operation, recent
similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating
in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of
“This is only the latest in the
series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates
against American and allied interests.
“Taken as a whole, these
unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security,
a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of
escalating tension by Iran,” Mike Pompeo said.
The blasts in one of the world’s busiest oil routes comes a month after four
oil tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates.
No group or country has admitted the incident in May, which also caused no
The US at the time blamed Iran – but Tehran denied the accusations.
Oil prices jumped as much as 4%
after the incident.
The Gulf of Oman lies at one end of
the strategic Strait of Hormuz – a vital shipping lane through which hundreds
of millions of dollars of oil pass.
The Norwegian Maritime Authority said that the Front Altair had been had
been “attacked”, and that there were three blasts on board.
Wu I-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan’s CPC Corp oil refiner, which chartered
the Front Altair, said it was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha and was
“suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, although this has not been
Other unverified reports suggested a mine attack.
The ship’s owner, Frontline, said the vessel was on fire – but denied
reports in Iranian media that it had sunk.
The operator of the Kokuka Courageous, BSM Ship Management, said its crew
abandoned ship and were rescued by a passing vessel.
The tanker was carrying methanol and was not in danger of sinking, a
It is currently located about 80 miles from Fujairah in the UAE and 16 miles from Iran. The cargo remains intact.
The US has given Turkey an ultimatum to choose between buying US fighter jets and Russian anti-aircraft missile systems by the end of July.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan set out the deadline in a letter
to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.
Turkey, Patrick Shanahan said, could not have both America’s F-35 advanced
fighter jets and Russia’s S-400 systems.
The two NATO allies have been locked in a row over the S-400 for months.
The US argues that the Russian systems are both incompatible with NATO defense
systems and pose a security threat, and wants Turkey to buy its Patriot
anti-aircraft systems instead.
Turkey, which has been pursuing an increasingly independent defense policy,
has signed up to buying 100 F-35s, and has invested heavily in the F-35 program,
with Turkish companies producing 937 of the plane’s parts.
Patrick Shanahan says in his letter that the US is “disappointed”
to hear that Turkish personnel have been sent to Russia to train on the S-400.
“Turkey will not receive the F-35
if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400,” he writes.
“You still have the option to
change course on the S-400.”
The military promised a transition
to civilian rule but protesters had maintained a sit-in in Khartoum until security
forces swept in on June 3 and opened fire.
The whereabouts of Mohamed Esmat are
also not clear.
On June 5, the SPLM-N said its
deputy head, Yasir Arman, was arrested at his house in Khartoum. He had
returned from exile following the downfall of Omar al-Bashir.
Mohamed Esmat and Ismail Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for
Freedom and Change, an umbrella organization of opposition figures, protest
leaders and rebel groups.
Khalid Omar Yousef, an opposition alliance leader, told Reuters after
Mohamed Esmat’s arrest: “This
amounts to a practical response from the military council that effectively
rejects the Ethiopian prime minister’s mediation effort.”
The TMC has not yet commented on the arrests.
According to opposition activists, a
feared paramilitary unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), killed 108 people in
the crackdown, with at least 40 bodies pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum
on June 4.
However, officials put the figure at
46. The leader of the RSF claims rogue elements and drug dealers were behind
The RSF, formerly known as the
Janjaweed militia, gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict
in western Sudan in 2003.
On June 6, the African Union
suspended Sudan’s membership “with immediate effect” and warned of
further action if power was not transferred to a civilian authority.
The chairman of the African Union
commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for an “immediate and
transparent” investigation into the killings.
In his visit to Khartoum on June 7,
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed urged both sides to exercise “bravery” and
try to agree steps towards democracy.
Reports said Abiy Ahmed had proposed setting up a transitional council comprised of eight civilians and seven military officers with a rotating presidency. It is not known how the proposal was received.
Brenton Tarrant, who was accused of killing 51
people in New Zealand’s Christchurch mosques attack has been charged with
terrorism, police have said.
The Australian was charged with “engaging in a terrorist act”,
police said in a statement on May 21.
Brenton Tarrant is already facing charges of murder and 40 of attempted
murder following the 15th of March attack on two mosques in the
South Island city.
He is next due in court in June.
It is the first time a person has been charged in New Zealand with an act of
terror under this law.
New Zealand Police – who met with victims’ families and other survivors to
inform them of the charge before it was announced – said they consulted with
legal experts and prosecutors before deciding to lay the additional charge.
On March 15, 50 people lost their lives in the shootings at
two mosques in Christchurch. One died in hospital later.
A ceasefire in the Gaza Strip has been
agreed between Palestinian militants and Israel after a weekend during which
Palestinians launched hundreds of rockets into Israel prompting retaliatory air
and artillery strikes.
At least four Israelis and 23
Palestinians were killed.
Israel has not confirmed the
ceasefire. However, reports say emergency measures have been lifted in southern
The violence flared up on May 3
during a protest against the blockade of Gaza.
A TV station run by Hamas – the
militant movement which controls Gaza – announced that both sides had agreed
the ceasefire, beginning at 04:30 local time.
Egypt is said to have brokered it –
assisted by the UN and Qatar.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has
not mentioned the ceasefire. However, the Times
of Israel said that protective restrictions imposed on residents in
southern Israel since the flare up began were being lifted, including schools
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen a
“strike drill” testing various missile components on May 4, state
media has confirmed.
“A number of short-range projectiles” were also fired from the
Hodo peninsula into the Sea of Japan, the state media said.
Kim Jong-un gave the order of firing to “increase the combat
ability” of North Korea, the announcement said.
President Donald Trump tweeted he believed Kim Jong-un would not jeopardize
the path towards better relations.
He added that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him & does not want
to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!
President Trump tweeted on May 4: “Anything
in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong-Un
fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing
to interfere or end it.”
Donald Trump walked away from what he described as a bad deal offered by the
North Korean at a summit meeting in Hanoi in February.
In its report on May 5, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim
Jing-un had stressed the need to “defend the political sovereignty and
economic self-sustenance” of North Korea in the face of threat and
The aim of the drill, which was testing “large-caliber long-range
multiple rocket launchers”, was to “inspect the operating ability and
the accuracy of striking duty performance,” the report said.
Kim Jong-un told troops to bear in mind “the iron truth that genuine
peace and security are ensured and guaranteed only by powerful strength”.
It is believed that latest test is intended to increase pressure on
Washington to move nuclear talks forward.
Last month, North Korea said it had tested what it described as a new
“tactical guided weapon”.
That was the first test since the Hanoi summit.
Analysts say a short-range solid fuel ballistic missile was fired on May 4,
making this the most serious test since North Korea fired an intercontinental
ballistic missile in November 2017.
However, the test does not violate North Korea’s promise not to test
long-range or nuclear missiles.
The state of emergency declaration, which comes into effect from midnight on
April 22, will give police and military extensive powers to detain and
interrogate suspects without court orders.
On April 22, another blast rocked a street near a church in the capital,
Colombo. Police were attempting to defuse explosives in a vehicle used by the
attackers when it blew up. It is not yet known if anyone was hurt.
Sri Lankan authorities were warned about a bomb threat from National
Thowheed Jamath a full two weeks before the attacks, cabinet spokesman Rajitha
Senaratne said at a press conference.
He said that the warnings were not passed on to PM Ranil Wickremesinghe or
his cabinet. The prime minister acknowledged that security services had been
“aware of information” but had not acted on the information.
Rajitha Senaratne said that authorities believed the bombers had
“We do not believe these attacks
were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,”
“There was an international
network without which these attacks could not have succeeded,” he
A later statement said President Maithripala Sirisena would ask for foreign
help to track down the international links to the attackers.
“The intelligence reports that foreign terrorist organizations are behind the local terrorists. Therefore, the president is to seek the assistance of the foreign countries,” his office said.
A curfew is to be imposed from 20:00
April 22 until 04:00 on April 23, the government said. A national day of
mourning has been scheduled for April 23.
Sri Lanka’s National Security
Council said a “conditional state of emergency” from midnight would
target “terrorism” and would not limit freedom of expression.
In another development, the US State
Department issued revised travel advice urging greater caution, adding: “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible
attacks in Sri Lanka.”
The first reports of explosions came
at about 08:45 local time on April 21with six blasts reported within a small
space of time.
Three churches in Negombo,
Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter
services. Blasts also rocked the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand
hotels in the country’s capital, Colombo.
Police did not release a breakdown
of how many people were killed and wounded at each location.
All the attacks were carried out by
suicide bombers, officials said.
Police then carried out raids on two
addresses and there were explosions at both. One was in Dehiwala, southern
Colombo, and the other was near the Colombo district of Dematagoda in which
three officers were killed.
An improvised explosive device – a
6ft-long plastic pipe packed with explosives – was also found and defused near
the airport in Colombo.
Police also recovered 87 low-explosive detonators from the Bastian Mawatha private bus station in Pettah.
More than 130 people have been killed and
hundreds more injured in a series of explosions at churches and hotels in Sri
Lanka, police and hospital sources say.
At least seven explosions were reported. Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services. According to authorities, 137 are reported dead folowing the blasts.
The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and a fourth hotel, all in
Colombo, were also hit.
Easter Sunday is one of the major feasts in the Christian calendar.
No group has yet said it was responsible.
Theravada Buddhism is Sri Lanka’s biggest religion, making up about 70.2% of
the population, according to the most recent census.
It is the religion of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority. It is given primary
place in the country’s laws and is singled out in the constitution.
Hindus and Muslims make up 12.6% and 9.7% of the population respectively.
Sri Lanka is also home to about 1.5 million Christians, according to the
2012 census, the vast majority of them Roman Catholic.
St Sebastian’s church in Negombo was severely damaged. Images on social
media showed its inside, with a shattered ceiling and blood on the pews. At
least 67 people are reported to have died there.
There were heavy casualties too at the site of the first blast in St
Anthony’s, a hugely popular shrine in Kochchikade, a district of Colombo.
Hospital sources in Batticaloa said at least 27 people had died there.
A hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand, near the prime minister’s official
residence, told AFP the explosion there had ripped through a restaurant,
killing at least one person.
A seventh explosion was later reported at a hotel near the zoo in Dehiwala,
southern Colombo, with police sources reporting two deaths.
News is coming in of a possible eighth explosion, in the Colombo district of
Dematagoda, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has issued a statement calling
for people to remain calm and support the authorities in their investigations.
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is chairing an emergency meeting. He said: “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.”
In the years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, there has been
some sporadic violence, with members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community
attacking mosques and Muslim-owned properties. That led to a state of emergency
being declared in March 2018.
The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.
North Korea has labeled a break-in
at its Madrid embassy last month as a “grave terrorist attack”.
In its first official comment, the
North Korean government called for an investigation and said it was closely
watching rumors that the FBI had played a role.
On March 27, the Cheollima Civil
Defense (CDC), a group committed to ousting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said
it carried out the raid.
The group took computers and data
and said it gave its evidence to the FBI.
At least two international arrest
warrants have been issued for the main suspects.
Spanish authorities say one suspect,
named as Adrian Hong Chang, gained access by asking to see the commercial
attaché, whom he claimed to have met previously to discuss business matters.
His accomplices burst in once he was inside.
The CDC is accused of interrogating
the attaché and trying to persuade him to defect. When he refused, they left him
tied up in the basement.
Two other members of the break-in group were named as US citizen Sam Ryu,
and a South Korean, Woo Ran Lee.
Embassy staff were held hostage for several hours. One woman managed to
flee, escaping through a window and screaming for help. Concerned neighbors
quickly called the police.
When officers arrived, they were greeted by Adrian Hong Chang, posing as a
North Korean diplomat in a jacket with a Kim Jong-un lapel badge.
He told the police that all was well, and nothing had happened.
Most of the group later fled the embassy in three North Korean diplomatic
vehicles. Adrian Hong Chang and some others left later via the back entrance
using another vehicle.
They split up into four groups and headed to Portugal. Adrian Hong Chang – a
Mexican citizen who lives in the US – allegedly contacted the FBI to give his
version of events five days later.
CDC, also known as Free Joseon, is committed to overthrowing North Korea’s
ruling Kim dynasty.
A video posted on the group’s
website and YouTube page purports to show one of the intruders smashing
portraits of North Korea’s leaders inside the Madrid embassy.
The Cheollima Civil Defense first
came to prominence after taking credit for getting Kim Jong-un’s nephew, Kim
Han-sol, safely out of Macau after the assassination of his father.
Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s
estranged half-brother, was murdered at an airport in Malaysia in 2017.
Kim Han-sol has expressed his desire
to go back to North Korea, and has referred to his uncle as a “dictator”.
Sources close to the investigation reportedly told Spanish newspaper El País that the operation was planned
perfectly, as if by a “military cell”.
According to El País and El Confidencial, the attackers seemed to
know what they were looking for. Spanish authorities suspect US intelligence
agencies and their allies could have been involved in the attack.
El País even reports that two of
the group have links to the CIA.
The US has denied any involvement in the raid.
Reports say the attackers could have been looking for information on North Korea’s former ambassador to Madrid, Kim Hyok-chol, who was expelled from Spain in September 2017 over North Korea’s nuclear testing program.
49 people have been killed and other 48 wounded
in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the country’s
New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern described it as a terrorist attack and one
of the country’s “darkest days”.
A gunman identifying himself as an Australian live-streamed the rampage at
Al Noor mosque to Facebook. He had espoused racist, anti-immigrant views.
According to police, a man in his late 20s has been arrested and charged
Two other men and one woman were also detained.
No names have been made public. Firearms and explosive devices were
recovered, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
The gunman live-streaming the attack from a head-mounted camera said he was
a 28-year-old Australian called Brenton Tarrant. The footage showed him firing
at men, women and children from close range inside the Al Noor mosque.
Facebook had removed the suspect’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was
working to remove any copies of the footage. The live-stream of the attack
lasted for 17 minutes.
The suspect who was charged appeared to have published a document online
outlining his intentions as well as details about the plan for the attack. He
is due in court on March 16.
Australian PM Scott Morrison described the man as an “extremist,
right-wing” terrorist. New Zealand Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that
the man had not been known in advance to either New Zealand or Australian
The Sohae launch facility at the Tongchang-ri site has been used for
satellite launches and engine testing but never for ballistic missile launches.
This week’s satellite images, coming from several US think tanks and
testimony from the South Korean intelligence service, appear to show rapid
progress has been made in rebuilding structures on the rocket launch pad.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said North Korea could yet face
more sanctions if there is no progress on denuclearization.
A historic first meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018 in Singapore produced a vaguely worded agreement on “denuclearization” but little progress.