The Latest on the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka (all times local):

7:10 a.m.

Australia’s prime minister says the Sri Lankan militants blamed for the Easter attacks in that country had support from the Islamic State group.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters Friday that ties between the local group and Islamic State included identifying the targets of the attacks. Sunday’s attacks killing at least 253 people primarily struck three churches that were packed with Easter worshippers and three luxury hotels popular with foreigners.

Morrison said the attacks demonstrated a new front in fighting terrorism, that militants who fought in Syria and Iraq had returned home with skills to carry out attacks while being part of a broader network that could provide money, training and target identification.


7 a.m.

Heavy security is out on the streets of Sri Lanka’s capital after warnings of further attacks by the militant group blamed for the Easter bombing that killed at least 250 people.

At St. Anthony’s Church, one of those struck in the attacks Sunday, there were more soldiers than normal Friday. Shops nearby remained closed.

Gration Fernando crossed himself when he looked at the church after walking out of his shop there. Fernando says he, like other Sri Lankans, was worried about further attacks.

He says there’s “no security, no safety to go to church.” He also says “now children are scared to go to church” as well.

Authorities told Muslims to pray at home rather than attend communal Friday prayers that’s the most important of the week.

Source: Fox News World

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has attended a wreath-laying ceremony at a war memorial near the headquarters of the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet as he wrapped up his visit to the Russian Far East following a summit with President Vladimir Putin.

Kim arrived at the memorial in Vladivostok on Friday. He took off his fedora and bowed after laying flowers at the memorial as a Russian military band played North Korea’s national anthem.

Kim and Putin met on Thursday where the North says they held deep discussions to boost “strategic communication and tactical collaboration” over issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang’s state media did not report on any specific agreement on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and sanctions against the North.

Source: Fox News World

Heavy security is out on the streets of Sri Lanka’s capital after warnings of further attacks by the militant group blamed for the Easter bombing that killed at least 250 people.

At St. Anthony’s Church, one of those struck in the attacks Sunday, there were more soldiers than normal Friday. Shops nearby remained closed.

Gration Fernando crossed himself when he looked at the church after walking out of his shop there. Fernando says he, like other Sri Lankans, was worried about further attacks.

He says there’s “no security, no safety to go to church.” He also says “now children are scared to go to church” as well.

Authorities told Muslims to pray at home rather than attend communal Friday prayers that’s the most important of the week.

Source: Fox News World

During the bad years, when rebels mostly from the ethnic minority Tamils and majority Sinhalese government forces were slaughtering each other in a horrific civil war, Gnanamani found solace in something many of her fellow Tamils didn’t have: Christianity, and especially its long inclusion in Sri Lanka’s main ethnic groups.

A religious minority here, Christians are part of both the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups, unlike the mainly homogenous Tamil Hindus and Sinhalese Buddhists on the teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean.

After Islamic militants detonated suicide bombs on Sunday that killed Easter worshippers in three churches, including St. Anthony’s, a few blocks from Gnanamani’s home in the warren of streets of Colombo’s 13th zone, she and other Tamil and Sinhalese Christians are once again turning to a religion that, unusually for Sri Lanka, binds people of different ethnicities by a single faith.

Experts and Christians interviewed by The Associated Press after the attacks say this imbedded ethnic cooperation, along with Christian leaders who have consistently preached restraint, helps explain the measured calm that has — so far — been the response to the coordinated bombing of churches and hotels that killed 253 people.

“Being a Christian sets an example to others, because we did not retaliate after this violence was done to us. We were restrained — Sinhalese and Tamil Christians both,” Gnanamani, a 60-year-old housewife who goes by one name, said as she squatted on her stoop in a narrow, sunless alley, hundreds of black and white condolence streamers fluttering in a breeze above. “If this happened to Buddhist shrines or temples, there would have been an explosion of violence.”

There is indeed widespread fear here that more attacks, especially if they target other faiths, could return Sri Lanka, which is majority Buddhist but has significant Christian, Muslim and Hindu populations, to something like the cycle of sectarian violence and retaliation that marked the nearly three-decade civil war that ended in 2009.

“Within the Christian community there has to be moderation because by its nature it consists of two different ethnic communities. There’s a natural instinct for them to look at such religious and ethnic issues with deep compassion,” said Rohan Gunaratna, a religion and security expert and co-author of “The Three Pillars of Radicalization.”

But peace is not guaranteed.

“Sri Lanka must not take this Christian interreligious harmony for granted,” Gunaratna said in a phone interview. “The danger is that the Christian patience could break if there are more attacks, and that is what the terrorists want.”

About 7% of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people are Christian, and most are Roman Catholic, according to Mathew Schmalz, a professor at the College of the Holy Cross and an expert on Christianity in South Asia.

There has not always been universal Christian unity and restraint in Sri Lanka.

During the civil war that began in 1983, Christianity was divided, with members of the faith fighting for both the largely ethnic Tamil separatists and the mostly Sinhalese Buddhist government forces, experts say, and some tension still lingers.

With the recent attacks against Christians and foreigners, there’s worry that militant anti-Muslim Buddhists might be strengthened. “There might be less incentive now to step in to defend Muslims, and militant Buddhists might claim that they had been right all along to see Muslims as a threat,” Schmalz said by email.

The largely peaceful mixing of religions and ethnicities found in many parts of Colombo can be seen in the extended family of Anoma Damayanthi Liyanage, a 52-year-old Buddhist factory worker who lives in a small, neat, tin-roofed house in an alley off Jampettah Street in the Kochchikade neighborhood near St. Anthony’s.

Liyanage’s 25-year-old daughter, who married into a Christian family, was seriously injured in the blast. Liyanage herself was at St. Anthony’s and escaped the bomb only because she left a few minutes earlier with her Christian son-in-law when her 1 ½-year-old granddaughter began crying too loudly.

“It’s common for Tamil and Sinhalese Christians to marry each other,” Pradeepa Jayasinghe, a Sinhalese Christian relative, said. “We’ve always understood each other very well. We were raised from childhood together.”

Her daughter, 21-year-old Hishara, said, “We get together because of our Christian traditions. We’re not Tamil or Sinhalese. We look first if there is Christianity.”

The bombings, however, have stirred complex feelings among Christians.

Not far from the bombed church of St. Sebastian’s in a village in the city of Negombo, beyond the metal security barriers and the dozens of camouflaged soldiers carrying automatic weapons, Catholic priests Niroshan Perera and Anthony Nishan stand in their long white cassocks and watch fresh graves being dug for Christians killed by the attack on their church. There are 41 dirt mounds piled with flowers and candles, with wooden crosses marked mostly with numbers that correspond to names in a book that the priests keep.

There’s fear of more violence and deep grief in this majority Christian enclave outside Colombo. “The whole village is a funeral. The houses here are filled with coffins,” Nishan said of a place where about 120 Christians died in the bombing.

There’s also rage. Father Perera, 45, had a single description for the politicians who were told that terror attacks against Christians might be coming but didn’t notify the communities: “terrorists.”

A Catholic villager — Senake Perera, 55, a Sinhalese Catholic — said he would follow the restraint preached by Catholic leaders. But he also had a very human response to the fresh graves and wooden crosses, to the coffins and the dozens of color photos of the victims displayed on banners that fill this neighborhood.

“I have a feeling in my heart that we should go after the Muslims, that we should retaliate,” he said.

For the time being, however, like the Christians of Colombo interviewed by AP, there’s a belief that Catholics won’t hit back.

“After the tragedy, we are united because of the practice of dealing with other ethnicities which is within our Christianity,” said Father Nishan, 29, who’s the son of a Tamil father and Sinhalese mother, and who often gives Masses in Tamil, Sinhala and English. “Even if there are more attacks, Catholics won’t respond with violence,” he said. “That’s the beauty of Christianity here. We don’t have the division. We have to live together.”

Source: Fox News World

A spokeswoman for a U.S. financial adviser charged with killing a hotel worker while on vacation in Anguilla said he acted in self-defense and accused the victim of attacking him.

Kelcey Kintner released a statement Thursday alleging the worker showed up at Scott Hapgood’s room unannounced, saying he was there to fix a broken sink. The statement alleges the worker was armed and demanded money before attacking the family.

A spokesman for Anguilla police did not return a message for comment. Relatives of the victim could not be reached for comment.

Hapgood returned to Connecticut after he was released on $74,000 bond. He faces an Aug. 22 hearing in Anguilla.

The case has sparked racial tensions on an island that caters to wealthy tourists.

Source: Fox News World

Britain’s Prince William has told survivors of the mosque attacks in New Zealand that people must unite to fight extremism in all its forms.

The Duke of Cambridge on Friday visited one of the two Christchurch mosques where 50 people were killed and 50 others wounded in a March 15 attack by a white supremacist.

Prince William spoke to about 100 people including Muslim leaders and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Al Noor mosque. He said the message after the attacks was clear: That hate would fail to divide people.

William is on a two-day trip to New Zealand. Earlier on Friday, he met with some of those recovering from gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital.

On Thursday, he met with police officers and medics who responded to the attacks.

Source: Fox News World

As swaths of coastal Mozambique remain ravaged by the aftermath of last month’s tropical cyclone, many women who have lost their possessions are now being forced to trade sexual favors for food assistance, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigation has found.

“In some of the villages, women and their children have not seen any food for weeks,” an aid worker said. “They would do anything for food, including sleeping with men in charge of food distribution.”

A slew of victims and aid workers told the watchdog group that local community leaders, some with ties to the government, were demanding that vulnerable women without money to pay bribes exchange sex acts to get their names put on food distribution lists.


Another mother of four, who claimed she had no means of feeding her family, also told investigators that a community leader offered help not only if “she was nice to him,” but also if she traded sexual favors.

A mother bathing her baby in a bucket at a camp for displaced survivors of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, last month. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

A mother bathing her baby in a bucket at a camp for displaced survivors of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, last month. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

“He gave me only a kilo of beans,” the victim said. “When I complained, he said ‘tomorrow there will be more.’”

Six weeks ago on the eve of harvest, Cyclone Idai slashed through what was already deemed one of Africa’s poorest countries – destroying crops and leaving hundreds not only homeless but facing dire hunger.

HRW called on the Mozambique government to conduct its own investigation into the matter and appropriately prosecute and “adopt measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of cyclone victims and create an environment in which women can come forward and report abuses.”

“Emergency aid should be given freely to all people in need, and the government along with aid providers should ensure that aid distribution is never used as an opportunity to commit abuse,” HRW’s Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said.


The United Nations has referred to Idai – which killed nearly 500 people – as “one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere,” and lamented that its $342 million aid appeal to offer some relief to the cyclone’s victims in Mozambique and neighboring Zimbabwe has been less than one-quarter funded.

Over 1.85 million people, mostly women and children, were believed to be in urgent need of humanitarian help. Bodies remained strewn through the floodwaters and wreckage, with many roads ruined and unreachable and little outside recourse.


Yet, the already threadbare relief effort may only get worse.

Another cyclone, named Kenneth, is expected to make landfall in northeastern Mozambique on Friday, threatening a different area of the country and one not accustomed to such extreme weather.

Source: Fox News World

Human rights attorney Amal Clooney implored the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to bring ISIS fighters to justice and urged them to pass a resolution declaring sexual violence a “weapon of war.”

“This is your Nuremberg moment — your chance to stand on the right side of history,” she said, referring to the famous Nuremberg trials that tried Nazi officials for their roles in war crimes perpetrated during WWII.

She urged member states to go beyond a draft resolution — combatting sexual violence as a weapon of war— in order to bring ISIS terrorists to justice. “You owe it to … the thousands of women and girls who must watch ISIS members shave off their beards and go back to their normal lives while they, the victims, never can,” she said.

Clooney’s speech focused primarily on strengthening the international justice system that would allow Yazidi victims to “look their accusers in the eye.”


She deplored the fact that in the event that authorities caught ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, his case likely wouldn’t make it to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a controversial body that tries individuals for crimes such as genocide.

“The United States government has recently said — through its national security adviser John Bolton and its Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — that the ICC is ‘dead to us’ and that those who support certain ICC investigations can be denied entry to the U.S., have their assets frozen, and may even face arrest,” Clooney said.

Pompeo said in March the administration would deny U.S. visas for ICC employees who furthered prosecution against U.S. military and civilian personnel.

“We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” he said.


The sexual violence resolution, which passed after Clooney’s speech, faced opposition from the United States due to language it worried could be used to support abortion. When the resolution passed, it lacked the original phrasing that guaranteed “comprehensive health services.”

“Recognizing the importance of providing timely assistance to survivors of sexual violence, urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services, in line with Resolution 2106,” the original language read.


French UN ambassador Francois Delattre blasted the alteration.

“It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict, and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant, should have the right to terminate their pregnancy,” he said.

Source: Fox News World

The U.N. climate chief says world leaders must recognize there is no option except to speed-up and scale-up action to tackle global warming, warning that continuing on the current path will lead to “a catastrophe.”

Patricia Espinosa stressed in two recent interviews with the Associated Press that climate scientists say there’s still a chance to make things right “but the window of opportunity is closing very soon” and the world has 12 years until carbon emissions reach “a point of no return” — something some top scientists say is an oversimplification of a U.N. report last year.

She said that means the world needs to accelerate all efforts to keep from reaching that level, “and therefore all efforts are absolutely indispensable” to cut carbon emissions and keep temperatures from rising.

Source: Fox News World

Over 150 indigenous leaders met with lawmakers to discuss land rights and the role of their communities in the protection of the environment Thursday amid protests against the policies of Brazil’s new far-right president.

The discussions in the Chamber of Deputies came on the second day of the Free Land Encampment, an annual three-day protest by indigenous groups held in Brazil’s capital.

Indigenous leaders from several regions attended the congressional hearing, many of them with traditional feathered headdresses and faces painted red or black. Marina Silva, a former environmental minister and presidential candidate, also attended the meeting.

More than 1,000 indigenous people set up tents on the lawn of the congressional building Wednesday and began demonstrating against President Jair Bolsonaro’s vow to encourage the expansion of mining and industrial farming in protected indigenous areas.

“What is being disputed is the land,” said Sonia Guajajara, an indigenous leader and former vice presidential candidate.

Bolsonaro “wants to give the indigenous territories to the United States, to foreigners, to explore our natural resources. We fight not only for our rights, our constitutional rights, but for our right to exist,” Guajajara told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

“Where indigenous lands are demarcated, registered and controlled by the peoples, these territories are preserved and cared for,” said Cleber Cesar Buzatto, secretary general of the Indigenous Missionary Council, a rights group linked to the Roman Catholic Church. “In some regions, in some states like Rondonia, Mato Grosso, Maranhao, these lands are like true oases in the middle of farming commodities fields, and of a lot of environmental destruction.”

Soon after being sworn in Jan. 1, Bolsonaro transferred the authority for designating indigenous land and granting environmental licenses for businesses on indigenous reserves from the government’s indigenous affairs agency to the Agriculture Ministry. He also shifted the indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, from the Justice Ministry to a new ministry for family, women and human rights that is being led by an ultraconservative evangelical pastor.

During an earlier meeting with Chamber of Deputies Speaker Rodrigo Maia on Wednesday, Ivan Valente, a lawmaker who is part of an indigenous lobbying group, said the president’s changes were “leaving the fox taking over the chicken coop.”

Maia responded by saying that he would push to undo the changes when the proposals come up for debate.

Putting FUNAI back under the Justice Ministry “seems to me the most reasonable, the most rational (decision) that guarantees more security for each one of you,” Maia said.

Guajajara told a cheering crowd that indigenous leaders will continue to oppose Bolsonaro’s plans.

“We are in Brasilia to show that our resistance is strong and that our compromise with our peoples is bigger than any imposition. We are not going to accept these attacks with our arms crossed,” Guajajara said.

At a gathering in 2017, police shot tear gas at indigenous protesters who fired back with bows and arrows.

On Thursday, while the lower house commission was discussing the future role of indigenous communities in the protection of the environment, the Senate held a special session to honor the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

This year’s protest is to end with a group march Friday.


Associated Press video journalist Renato Domingues reported this story in Brasilia and AP writer Diane Jeantet reported from Rio de Janeiro. AP video journalist Mia Alberti in Brasilia contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World

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