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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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Brazil Rally Back to Win U-17 World Cup

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Brazil staged a remarkable comeback for the second time in a week on Sunday to beat Mexico 2-1 in front of their own fans and win the Under-17 World Cup for a fourth time.

Just three days after they recovered from being 2-0 down to beat France 3-2 in the semi-finals, Brazil scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to overcome their Latino rivals.

Although Brazil had more of the early chances, Mexico took the lead at 66 minutes when Bryan Gonzalez rose between two defenders to head a cross from the left into the net.

Kaio Jorge equalised from the penalty spot with six minutes remaining after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) advised officials to pull playback following a challenge on Veron.

Then three minutes into stoppage time, substitute Lazaro ran on to a cross ball and calmly fired home, to the delight of the home crowd.

The Flamengo forward had also come off the bench to score the winner in Thursday’s last-minute win over France.

“They use the VAR when it is convenient for them,” said an unhappy Mexican coach Marco Ruiz. “We had the game under control until the VAR decision. They grew after that.”

The win was revenge of a sorts for Brazil, who lost 3-0 to Mexico in the Under-17 final in 2005, as well as to their Under-23 team in the final of the 2012 Olympics.

Earlier in the day, Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga scored a hat trick to help France come from behind to beat the Netherlands 3-1 and take third-place.

Dutchman Sontje Hansen won the golden boot for the top goalscorer with six goals.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Bayelsa Guber: APC Dislodges PDP in Massive Landslide Victory

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The candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon, has emerged the winner of the governorship election held on Saturday.

Lyon, who won in six of the state’s eight local government areas, defeated his closest rival, Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Diri won in two local governments.

Lyon’s victory marks the first time the PDP would lose a governorship election in the state since the nation returned to democracy in 1999.

The Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, had after he released the result of the Ekeremor Local Government Area, which was the last being expected by INEC on Monday night, promised that the final result would be made public before 1am on Monday.

Orumwense made good his promise as he announced that Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat Diri, who polled 143,172 votes some minutes after 1am.

Lyon was declared winner in six out of the eight local governments announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission at the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu Media Centre in the state commission’s headquarters in Yenagoa, the state capital.

The six local government areas won by the APC are Brass; Nembe; Ogbia, Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and Yenagoa while the PDP won in the Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma local government areas.

The Punch

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Theatres of War: Four Killed in Kogi, Violence Rocks Bayelsa

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The Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections as well as the Kogi West senatorial rerun were on Saturday characterised by violence, shootings, killings, vote-buying and ballot box snatching as many polling units across the two states experienced tension created by political thugs.

Four people were killed in Kogi during the election by political thugs while many were injured in Bayelsa where peace took flight as a result of electoral violence.

The Commissioner of Police in Kogi State, Hakeem Busari, had before the elections assured residents of the state of the safety of their lives and property as adequate personnel would be drafted for the polls.

The elections commenced on a peaceful note across the state as there was a large turnout of voters with the electorate, mostly women trooped to the various polling units as early as 6.30am in Kogi.

But in spite of Busari’s assurance and voters enthusiasm, mayhem broke out in some polling units in Kogi East, Kogi West and Lokoja, the state capital.

Two persons were also reportedly killed by stray bullets at the Adankolo polling unit in Lokoja.

Sunday PUNCH gathered that the incident happened when some hoodlums tried to snatch ballot boxes at the polling unit.

Eyewitness said the two persons were killed when voters resisted the thugs. The thugs, it was gathered, killed the two persons while a passerby sustained a life-threatening injury from gunshot wound.

This angered the youth who mobilised and set the house of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the area ablaze.

When the state police command was contacted, its spokesperson, DSP William Aya, said all enquiries should be directed to the Commissioner of Police in the state Commissioner of Police.

The Punch

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