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Sri Lanka Bomb Attacks Update – 290 Confirmed Killed, 24 Arrested

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Eight coordinated explosions that tore through churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday have killed at least 290 people and injured another 500, in what officials have called a “brand-new type of terrorism.”

Police have arrested 24 people in connection with the suicide bombs, the worst violence the South Asian island has seen since its bloody civil war ended 10 years ago.
A ninth improvised explosive device (IED) was defused near the capital’s Bandaranaike International Airport on Sunday evening, according to an Air Force spokesman. The blasts appears to have targeted tourism hotspots, as well as churches, in a bid to gain maximum global attention.
Foreign nationals are among the dead, including five British citizens, two of whom held dual US-UK nationality, three Indians, two Australians, two Chinese cousins, one person from the Netherlands, two Turkish citizens and one Portuguese person.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the “terrorist incident” was carried out by those following “religious extremism.”
On Sunday evening it was revealed in a leaked memo that police had been warned of a potential attack by the Nations Thawahid Jaman (NTJ), an Islamist group led by Mohomad Saharan. It is unclear whether the information related to Sunday’s bombings.
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has said the intelligence was not shared with him and other ministers. Sajith Premadasa, minister of housing construction and cultural affairs, said the officers had acted with “negligence and incompetence.”
Analysts, however, have cautioned against rushing to conclusions. Dhruva Jaishankar, a fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings India, said the NTJ is a little-known group, which has previously defaced Buddhist statues, and was unlikely to have the capacity or sophistication to execute an attack like Sunday’s without assistance.
While there is a known transnational Islamist presence in places such as Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, Jaishankar said little is known about Islamic radicalism in Sri Lanka and that it was “premature” to speculate on which organizations might have been involved.
Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka, accounting for less than 10% of the total population of 21.4 million. According to census data, 70.2% of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist, 12% Hindu, 9.7% Muslim, and 7.4% Christian.
It is estimated that 82% of Sri Lankan Christians are Roman Catholic.
A social media blackout has been enforced as the authorities try to contain the violence and establish who carried out the attacks and why.

How it unfolded

The first wave of attacks struck during packed Easter Sunday services.
More than 1,000 people had come to the one of the explosion sites, St. Sebastian’s Church, where 102 people were killed, according to Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo.
As the Easter services got underway at churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, the bombers detonated their devices. The bombs blew out the tiled roofs of churches, killing worshipers. Images showed bloodied pews, broken glass and plumes of smoke.
Courtesy CNN

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Travel Agent Scams Cristiano Ronaldo of £250,000, Jailed

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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.

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I am Getting Better, Says Hospitalised Pele

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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.

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We Won’t Accept Second Position in 2023 – NEF

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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.”

The Punch

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