215 killed as blasts rock Sri Lanka on Easter

A string of eight devastating blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 215 people and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Briefing reporters, Gunasekera said the police was not able to confirm at the moment if they were all suicide attacks. He, however, said that one of the blasts at the Katuwapitiya (Negombo) church has signs of being what looked like a suicide attack.

An unnamed official said a suicide bomber blew himself up at the restaurant of the Cinnamon Grand hotel.

Gunasekara said that 66 bodies were kept at the National Hospital while 260 injured were receiving treatment there and 104 bodies were placed at the Negombo Hospital and 100 injured were receiving treatment at the Hospital.

Later in the day, a powerful blast in the capital's southern suburb near the Colombo Zoo killed two persons, Gunasekera said.

When a police team entered a house in the Colombo north suburb of Orugodawatta to conduct a search, a suicide bomber blew himself up causing a concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them, killing three policemen in the eighth blast, police said.

24 arrested in connection with Sri Lanka blasts

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people from the minority Muslim community in connection with the multiple blasts that rocked the island nation on Sunday, killing over 290 people. A string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing over 290 people, including five Indians, and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the number of arrests on the incidents have now gone up to 24. However, the government said they will not disclose the details of the suspects involved in the attacks to prevent them from getting publicity. "Don't give extremists a voice. Don't help to make them martyrs," state minister of defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told reporters when asked for details of those in custody. Police officials privately said the suspects were all from the minority Muslim community. Police said the van which had carried explosives to carry out bomb attacks at the three hotels was arrested with its Muslim driver. A safe house where the bombers had lived for nearly three months leading to the attacks were discovered in the south of Colombo suburb of Panadura.

U.S. committed to pulling foreign forces out of Afghanistan: official

KABUL - A senior U.S. government official, speaking after six days of U.S. peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants, said on Monday that Washington was committed to withdrawing foreign forces from Afghanistan to end more than 17 years of war.

The official, who declined to be identified, described “significant progress” in talks last week with the Taliban in Qatar about a foreign troop pullout, but more negotiations were needed on a ceasefire and its timing.

“Of course we don't seek a permanent military presence in Afghanistan,” the official said in the capital Kabul.

“Our goal is to help bring peace in Afghanistan and we would like a future partnership, newly defined with a post peace government,” the official told Reuters. “We would like to leave a good legacy.”

There could not be a withdrawal without a ceasefire, the official said.

The issue looms as a sticking point in the next round of talks on Feb. 25, with the U.S. official saying Taliban negotiators wanted a full withdrawal before a ceasefire.

Venezuela's Guaido calls for new protests as pressure on Maduro rises

CARACAS - Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed president, on Monday called for new street demonstrations as pressure intensified on President Nicolas Maduro and the crisis-stricken OPEC nation.

Countries around the world have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader, and the United States vowed to starve Maduro's administration of oil revenue after he was sworn in Jan. 10 for a second term that was widely dubbed illegitimate.
Guaido said opposition sympathizers should take to the streets on Wednesday to pass out copies of a pamphlet proposing amnesty that would give some legal protection to members of the military in hopes they will turn against Maduro.“We must remain united as active agents of change in every corner of the country,” Guaido tweeted on Monday. “We're doing well, very well, Venezuela!”

On Sunday, Israel and Australia joined countries backing the 35-year-old Guaido, and U.S. President Donald Trump said his government had accepted Venezuelan opposition figure Carlos Alfredo Vecchio as a diplomatic representative to the United States.
 

 

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