The Islamic State says its members were behind the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, in a statement carried by the extremist group’s mouthpiece Amaq.
“Those, who carried out the attack that targeted the citizens of the coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday were Islamic State fighters,” Amaq reported on Tuesday.
The statement refers to the U.S.-led coalition, which has been fighting the extremist group in Iraq and Syria since it took over large areas in the two countries in 2014.
The death toll from multiple suicide attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka over the Easter weekend rose to 321 on Tuesday, the national day of mourning for the victims.
Police said that the increase was due to more people succumbing to injuries.
The bombings in Sri Lanka were intended as retaliation for last month’s attack against Muslims in Christchurch, according to initial investigations by the Sri Lankan government, the deputy defence minister said.
“We believe [the massacre] was carried out by an extreme Islamist group as a reprisal to the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand,” State Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said in a statement to parliament.
“This group is known to have links to an organisation named National Thowheed Jamath. We should take immediate steps to ban any such organisation that have links to extremist elements,” he added.
Forty-two people have been arrested and over 20 houses searched in connection with investigations.
Wijewardene’s comments came as security forces and police searched the capital for a lorry and a van fitted with explosives identified by police in an intelligence report.
“The search is in progress, but nothing suspicious has been found so far,” a police officer said.
Police checked several motorcycles, cars, unattended parcels and other locations.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in Geneva that 45 children were killed and dozens were injured in the suicide attacks.
“No child should experience such a heartbreaking situation and no parents should lose their child forever under such horrible circumstances,” UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said.
Three minutes of silence were observed as more funerals of those killed in Sunday’s attacks took place.
Black and white flags were also raised in most towns as symbols of mourning.
The country has been under a state of emergency since late Monday.
High security was being maintained in Colombo and in Negombo, 35 kilometres bombings North of the capital, where a mass burial took place close to a church where more than 110 people were killed.
The state of emergency gives security forces special powers, including the right to search and arrest individuals.
Travel Agent Scams Cristiano Ronaldo of £250,000, Jailed
A travel agent, named Maria Silvia scammed Manchester United striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, out of £250,000 (about N140 million) after the football star entrusted her with his credit cards and pin.
The 53-year-old travel agent also scammed Ronaldo’s super-agent Jorge Mendes of £14,000 and Manchester United winger, Nani, of over £1,500.
Due to her wrongdoing, Silvia got a four-year suspended prison sentence on Sunday after being earlier convicted by a Porto criminal court in 2017.
It was also revealed that Ronaldo was targeted for three years between February 2007 and July 2010.
The paper read, “Afterwards the travel agent had to plug the hole in the firm’s accounts. She, therefore, began to bill those trips to Cristiano Ronaldo, who had an account at Geostar and for practical reasons, handed the agent a virtual credit card and pin code. It was a green route to taking money out.”
Quoting a renowned Portuguese daily Jornal de Noticias, Sun Sports reported that the 36-year-old Ronaldo submitted a statement to the police after flying to the court to meet up with his lawyer.
The travel agent, who currently works as a cleaner, was first interrogated in 2011 before her eventual sentence on Sunday, September 19, 2021.
I am Getting Better, Says Hospitalised Pele
Brazilian football legend Pele said Sunday he is “punching the air” to celebrate “every better day” after the 80-year-old suffered his latest health scare.
“As you can see, I’m punching the air in celebration of every better day,” Pele wrote on Instagram beside a photograph of him sitting in a hospital chair, watched over by two medical staff.
The three-time World Cup winner was Friday briefly transferred back to an intensive care unit at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where he underwent surgery earlier this month, after suffering breathing difficulties.
“A good mood is the best medicine and I have plenty of that. It couldn’t be different,” he added Sunday.
“I have received so much affection that my heart is full of gratitude. Thanks to all the amazing staff at Albert Einstein Hospital!”
His condition had been described as stable.
Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento also posted a photo of herself next to her father in the hospital on Friday, seeking to cheer up his fans.
We Won’t Accept Second Position in 2023 – NEF
The Northern Elders Forum has said the north was in the process of rebuilding itself and was not prepared to play second fiddle in a nation where it clearly enjoys numerical strength.
Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said this while delivering a keynote address at the maiden Maitama Sule Lecture Series organized by the students’ wing of the Coalition of Northern Groups, held at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, on Saturday.
He said, “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before whether we are President or Vice President, we will lead Nigeria. We have the majority of the votes and democracy says vote whom you want.
“Why should we accept a second class position when we know we can buy a form and contest for first class and we will win?
“Why does anybody need to threaten us and intimidate us? We will get that power but be humble because power comes from God. We inherited leadership and being honest is not being stupid.
“The North has pride; we are humble enough to know that we are going to run Nigeria with other people but we are not going to pay a second fiddle to anybody. We may not have the most robust economy, there are people who are trying to strangulate us even more than we are being strangled.
“We are ready for this. We will consider every economic adversity, challenge. We will fix the Northern economy and we are the only one who can fix this Northern economy. For that reason, we are not for sale. We are in the process of rebuilding the North and we will rebuild the North from 2023.
“Whether the North holds power in 2023 or not anybody who wants to break up in this country will say so, they are just looking for excuses. This is democracy. If they don’t like what Nigeria is, they will say they want to break up from this country, we don’t pay attention to those people, we are focused on the fact that we are running a democratic system.
The NEF’s spokesman added, “If the majority of Nigeria voters vote for a candidate from the North and he becomes the President and somebody doesn’t want to live under the Nigeria President, the person can leave.”