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SL marks quiet Easter a year after deadly bombings

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SRI LANKA COLOMBO BLASTS
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Colombo, April 12 (IANS) Sri Lanka celebrated a quiet Easter Sunday amid the coronavirus lockdown, while remembering the victims of the terror attacks that killed at least 270 people on the resurrection day last year.

People largely stayed indoors and offered prayers from home with the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, leading an Easter mass from a TV studio because of the pandemic, reports Efe news.

During his service aired on national TV, Cardinal Ranjith remembered last year’s Easter when suicide bombers hit three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of death and destruction on one of the most important Christian festivals.

The Archbishop said the Catholics had forgiven these “misled youths (who) attacked our lives” that killed Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims.

“But as Catholics what did we do? We remembered Jesus Christ’s message and we should love our enemies, we forgave and showed compassion. We asked them not to do the same again,” Cardinal Ranjith said.

Sri Lanka witnessed carnage last year on April 21, when eight suicide bombers rattled the island’s minority Christian community, which makes up for nearly 7.5 per cent of the country’s total population of 21.4 million.

The attacks wounded over 500 and deepened communal tensions in Sri Lanka.

The bombings, carried out by local Islamist extremists with suspected foreign ties, was claimed by the Islamic State.

Police said that they have killed or arrested all suspects in various counter-terror operations carried out in the days after the mayhem.

The Archbishop’s House in Sri Lanka plans commemoration of those who died in the attacks on April 21.

“We planned week-long events to commemorate the Easter Sunday attacks. But because of the health situation, we have canceled most of it but the main event will be held,” Fr. Jude Chrysantha Fernando said.

Cardinal Ranjith during his televised mass urged everyone to act responsibly and not to violate restriction orders put in place to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus infection.

Sri Lanka police have so far arrested nearly 20,000 violators and seized over 5,000 vehicles since the government imposed the prohibitory orders on March 19.

The island nation has 199 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, with seven deaths.


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Russian Deputy PM Yury Trutnev tests positive for COVID-19

Russia registered 5,102 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 902,701, the country’s COVID-19 response centre.

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Yury Trutnev

Moscow: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev has tested positive for COVID-19.

Trutnev’s trip to the Far East as part of the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has been postponed so far, Xinhua news agency.

“Before the trip, Yury Trutnev was tested for coronavirus. He showed a positive result,” he said.

Russia registered 5,102 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 902,701, the country’s COVID-19 response centre.

The death toll stood at 15,231.

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Afghanistan: 4 police officers killed in bomb attack in Western Farah Province

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Afghan Bombing
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FARAH, Afghanistan, Aug. 13 : At least four police officers were killed and 16 people wounded after a bomb explosion took place outside a provincial police station in Afghanistan’s western Farah province on Wednesday, a local official confirmed.

“Four killed and 16 wounded were admitted to a provincial main hospital following a bomb explosion in Farah city, capital of Farah province this evening,” Dr. Abdul Jabar Shahiq from provincial health directorate told Xinhua.

Those among the wounded were child and a police officer, he added.

Security forces have cordoned off the area for precautionary measures.

The blast sent a column of thick smoke into the sky and triggered panic, Muhibullah Muhib from provincial police told Xinhua, adding the explosion damaged several vehicles and buildings.

Unofficial sources said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated a tricycle, targeting a passing convey of provincial intelligence official roughly at 6:40 p.m. local time.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Since the signing of a Taliban and United States peace agreement in late February, Afghan leaders, including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, have frequently demanded the Taliban to reduce violence.

The militants, however, have intensified attacks, killing and injuring scores of combatants and civilians.

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Disaster

5.5-magnitude earthquake rattles northern Philippines

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Earthquake

MANILA, Aug. 13 : An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.5 shook Batanes province in the northern Philippines on Thursday, the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) said.

The institute said the quake, which struck at 6:32 a.m. local time, hit at a depth of 14 kilometers, about 49 kilometers southwest of Sabtang town.

The institute said the quake, which was tectonic in origin, will trigger aftershocks but will not cause damage.

The Philippines has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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