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Death Toll from Sri Lanka’s Resurrection Sunday Bomb Attack Hits 207

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The suicide bomber waited patiently in a queue for the Easter Sunday breakfast buffet at Sri Lanka’s Cinnamon Grand hotel before setting off explosives strapped to his back.

Carrying a plate, the man, who had registered at the hotel the night before as Mohamed Azzam Mohamed, was just about to be served when he set off his devastating strike in the packed restaurant, a manager at the Sri Lankan hotel said.

“There was utter chaos,” said the manager, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to speak for the company.

The Taprobane restaurant at the hotel was having one of its busiest days of the year for the Easter holiday weekend.

“It was 8:30 am and it was busy. It was families,” the manager told AFP.

“He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast,” he added.

“One of our managers who was welcoming guests was among those killed instantly.”

The bomber also died. Parts of his body were found intact by police and taken away.

Other hotel officials told how the bomber, a Sri Lankan, checked in giving an address that turned out to be false, saying he was in the city for business.

Two other hotels, the Shangri-La and the Kingsbury, were hit at about the same time, along with three churches packed with worshippers attending Easter Sunday services.

The blast at St Anthony’s Shrine, an historic Catholic Church, was so powerful that it blew out much of the roof, leaving roof tiles, glass and splintered wood littering the floor that was strewn with bodies.

Authorities have not said who staged the attacks. But all suffered major casualties and damage. Many of the 35 foreigners killed in the blasts were at the hotels, officials said.

– ‘Shock, grief and mourning’ –

“There was utter chaos, but we rushed all the injured to hospital in a very short time,” the Cinnamon Grand manager said.

“About 20 people were seriously wounded and we sent them to the National Hospital.”

The hotel is close to the Sri Lankan prime minister’s official residence and Special Task Force commandos were quickly at the scene.

At the Shangri-La, witnesses said they heard two loud blasts and that staff reported some people had been killed. But details of the toll were not immediately given.

An AFP photographer saw extensive damage in the second floor restaurant at the hotel, with windows blown out and electrical wires hanging from the ceiling.

The Shangri-La said in a statement that the bomb hit at approximately 9:00 am local time at its Table One restaurant.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the casualties and those who have been affected,” it said.

“Our immediate priority is to look after the safety and wellbeing of all involved. A Shangri-La crisis management team has been activated to provide all necessary support.”

The Kingsbury is also one of Colombo’s most expensive hotels, positioned near the city’s World Trade Center.

The toll there was not known.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the hotel said: “On behalf of the entire Kingsbury team we share in the shock, grief and mourning of our entire nation in the aftermath of the recent attack.”

“Medical evacuation and treatment of the injured guests and employees were handled immediately.” The hotel said it had been “isolated” for further safety checks.

(AFP)

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Napoli Consider Renaming Stadium after Diego Maradona

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Napoli are considering renaming their stadium in memory of Diego Maradona after the club legend died aged 60.

Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, forged a strong bond with the Italian club and its supporters during his seven-year spell between 1984 and 1991.

The forward, who inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, joined Napoli from Barcelona and won their only two Serie A titles – in 1987 and 1990 – along with the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis confirmed following Maradona’s death that the club will discuss renaming their stadium in his honour, combining its current title with his full iconic name, Sky reports.

“We can consider the idea of calling our stadium San Paolo-Diego Armando Maradona,” De Laurentiis told French sports channel RMC Sport.

Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris supported the proposal that the city’s San Paolo Stadium be renamed for Maradona, who scored 81 goals in 188 appearances for the club.

“We are already putting it together this morning, taking the first steps to dedicate Naples stadium to Maradona,” De Magistris said.

The Mayor added: “We’re hoping to make it coincide with the resumption of games with fans.”

Fans gathered outside the stadium, which was lit in memory of Maradona’s time at the club, in the southern Italian city on Wednesday evening.

Tributes have poured in from the world of football and beyond, with three days of national mourning underway in Argentina.

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Implement People’s Demands Or Set Nigeria on Fire, Wike Tells Buhari

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is ready to do the people’s requests.

The governor said the President will set the country ‘on fire’ by not implementing some of the requests voiced out by leaders during the recent discussions with the presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.

The PUNCH had reported that Gambari led ministers and federal lawmakers to meetings with leaders of the six geopolitical zones as a way of addressing concerns raised in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.

Gambari and the presidential delegation had met with governors and leaders of the South-South geopolitical zone in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Tuesday.

At the meeting, the South-South leaders including the Rivers State governor demanded the restructuring of the country in line with the principle of true federalism, saying it will guarantee peace, security and stability in the country.

Giving an update on the meeting on Thursday morning, Wike said the President still has time to implement the will of the people and etch a legacy for himself.

The governor spoke today on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The PUNCH.

He said, “I am not a pessimist. I don’t believe that because you didn’t do what you agreed to do yesterday, therefore, you will not do what you agree to do today. Even if he (Buhari) has not done what he told Nigerians he would do, he can say, look, I promised Nigerians yesterday, I didn’t do that and that is affecting my integrity and so, for people who know me, I will implement what I have said.

“People have raised the issue that they don’t think anything will come out of the dialogues. I don’t agree with them. I believe that if the President does not do it, given the opportunity he has now, he will be putting Nigeria on fire.”

Continuing, Wike said political will to implement what the people want is key in governance.

According to him, the President has to show leadership by listening to Nigerians and by implementing the people’s requests.

“He may not necessarily implement everything the people may want but let the people see the concrete evidence that under President Buhari, he has been able to implement one, two, three, four demands by the people.

“If he (Buhari) doesn’t take this opportunity now to implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigerians and for his legacy,” the governor added.

The Punch

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Legendary Football Star, Diego Amando Maradona Dies at 60

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Diego Maradona, one of football’s greatest-ever players, has died. He was 60 years.

The 1986 World Cup winner had surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month. The Argentine Football Association confirmed he had died this afternoon.

“The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts,” they said.

Another of football’s greats, Pele, has led the tributes to: “Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.” Follow latest updates and reaction here.

Dr Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s personal physician, said the former player had shown signs of improvement after a successful operation three weeks ago.

Dr Luque said Maradona “laughed” and “grabbed my hand” just a day after he had the procedure.

“Diego is without any type of neurological deficit, without any type of complication associated with surgery,” Luque said, addressing reporters at the clinic’s door.

“He has an excellent post-operative period, the laboratory parameters even improved.

“The first impression is it is favourable, but it is difficult to evaluate.”

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