COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Police in Sri Lanka said Monday the investigation into the Easter Sunday bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence. The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday the death toll had risen overnight to 290 dead with more than 500 wounded. Two government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures. Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando tweeted, "Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence.
Police say the death toll from the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka has increased to 290. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Monday more than 500 people had been wounded. The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago.
Sri Lankan authorities blocked most social media after Easter Sunday attacks killed more than 200 people, with officials saying the temporary move was meant to curtail the spread of false information and ease tensions. The NetBlocks observatory said it detected an intentional blackout of popular services including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Viber. The defense ministry said the shutdown would extend until the government concludes its investigation into the bomb blasts that rocked churches, luxury hotels and other sites. NetBlocks cautioned that such post-attack blackouts are often ineffective. "What we've seen is that when social media is shut down, it creates a vacuum of information that's readily exploited by other parties," said Alp Toker, executive director of the London-based group.
Bhanuka Harischandra was running a little late for his meeting Sunday. As a car carrying him pulled into the back entrance of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo, he realized something was wrong. People were telling him not to come in, it wasn't safe. Still, the car pulled around to the front of the hotel and Harischandra saw the aftermath of a bombing. People were being evacuated, others were being dragged. Blood and ambulances were everywhere. "It was panic mode," Harischandra, a 24-year-old founder of a tech marketing company, said by telephone later in the day. "I didn't process it for a while." He decided to go to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where he thought it would be safe.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A series of blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, blamed on religious extremists, recalled the worst days of the country's 26-year civil war. A look at a troubled history marked by ethnic and religious divides: ___ YEARS OF WAR Sri Lanka, an island nation of some 23 million people, was dominated for decades by the sharp divide between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and the minority Tamil, who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian. The mistreatment of Tamils helped nurture the growth of armed separatists and led to nearly 30 years of civil war, with Tamil Tiger fighters eventually creating a de facto independent homeland in the country's north.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis denounced the "cruel violence" of the Easter Sunday slaughter of Christians and foreigners in Sri Lanka as he celebrated the most joyful moment on the Christian liturgical calendar by lamenting the bloodshed and political violence afflicting many parts of the world. Francis skipped his homily during Easter Mass but delivered his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and the world) speech highlighting conflicts in the Mideast, Africa and the Americas and demanding that political leaders put aside their differences and work for peace. "May the one who gives us his peace end the roar of arms, both in areas of conflict and in our cities, and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries," Francis said from the loggia of St.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Islamic State group's Afghanistan affiliate has claimed a suicide attack in the capital that killed seven people. The group says in a statement Sunday that four "martyrdom seekers" targeted the Telecommunications Ministry the day before. Afghan officials say a suicide bomber struck outside the ministry, clearing the way for four other gunmen to enter the heavily-guarded compound in central Kabul. All the attackers were killed in an hours-long gunbattle. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy in the number of attackers. IS has carried out several attacks in Afghanistan in recent years, mainly targeting the country's Shiite minority.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man suspected of involvement in a mysterious dissident group's February raid on North Korea's Embassy in Madrid was arrested in Los Angeles by U.S. authorities. Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested and charged Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter. The specific charges against Ahn were not immediately clear. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Separately, on Thursday, federal agents raided the apartment of Adrian Hong, a leader of the Free Joseon group, the person said. Hong was not arrested. Free Joseon, also known as the Cheollima Civil Defense group, styles itself as a government-in-exile dedicated to toppling the ruling Kim family dynasty in North Korea.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday issued a relatively mild criticism of White House national security adviser John Bolton for calling on North Korea to show more evidence of its disarmament commitment before a possible third leaders' summit. North Korea's criticism appears to be a continuation of its frustration at deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States. Earlier in the week, the North tested a new weapon and demanded that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the nuclear negotiations. But the country is still avoiding directing harsh rhetoric toward the U.S. and directly criticizing President Donald Trump in an apparent effort to keep diplomacy alive.
NEW DELHI (AP) — A former employee of India's Supreme Court has accused the country's chief justice of sexual harassment, an accusation that was vehemently denied by the judge, the nation's largest news agency reported Saturday. The 35-year-old woman filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Friday alleging two instances of misconduct in October last year shortly after Ranjan Gogoi took over as India's most senior judge, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Gogoi convened an urgent court session with the other two justices on Saturday and said the charges were part of a conspiracy by some "bigger force," according to PTI.