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

10:20 a.m.

Australia’s prime minister said one of the suicide bombers in the Sri Lanka Easter attacks had been in Australia years earlier.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the person had been in Australia on a student and a graduate skilled visa with a spouse and child visa as well. The individual left in early 2013.

Morrison told reporters Thursday the person’s Australian link was part of an ongoing investigation and wouldn’t comment further.

Separately, a British security official has confirmed one of the bombers was believed to have studied in the U.K. between 2006 and 2007. The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, said British intelligence was not watching Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed during his stay in the country. His name was first reported by Sky News.

— Associated Press journalist Greg Katz in London contributed to this report.

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10 a.m.

Sri Lanka has banned drones and unmanned aircraft as authorities continue controlled detonations of suspicious items four days after a series of suicide bombing attacks killed more than 350 people in and around the capital of Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s civil aviation authority said Thursday that it was taking the measure “in view of the existing security situation in the country.”

Hobby drones have been used by militants in the past to carry explosives.

Iraqi forces learned that they are difficult to shoot down while driving out the Islamic State group from northern Iraq, where the extremists loaded drones with grenades or simple explosives to target their forces.

Also Thursday Sri Lankan authorities detonated a suspicious item in a garbage dump in Pugoda, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Colombo.

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6 a.m.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed one Japanese national was killed and four others injured in the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.

The body of the person who died was returned to Japan early Thursday.

Officials at Narita airport near Tokyo lowered their heads as the coffin, covered with blue tarp and a bouquet of white flowers on top, came out of the plane.

Japanese media have identified the victim as 39-year-old Kaori Takahashi. The reports say she was having breakfast with her family at the Shangri-La hotel when she was killed and that her husband and a daughter were injured in the attack.

The Foreign Ministry has not released the identities of the dead and injured.

Sri Lankan police have said at least 359 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in Sunday’s bombings, which mainly targeted churches and hotels. Most of the victims were Sri Lankan but more than 30 of the dead were foreigners.

Source: Fox News World

Australia’s prime minister on Thursday played down any potential link between the arrest of a suspected Islamic State group member in Turkey and a World War I battle commemoration attended by hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders at the Gallipoli peninsula.

A Syrian national was detained in Tekirdag province before the annual gathering for a dawn service at ANZAC Cove to mark the April 25, 1915, landing of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps troops in an ill-fated campaign to take the Dardanelles Straits, according to media reports.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the arrest took place three driving hours from of the Gallipoli service and no changes to security had been made as a result.

“The reports that we are receiving are inconclusive about any link between that arrest and any possible planned event at Gallipoli itself,” Morrison told reporters. “In fact, to make that assumption would be, I think, making a very big assumption.”

Morrison said Australian Defense Force Chief Gen. Angus Campbell was representing Australia at the service and had nothing but praise for the work of Turkish police and military to provide security.

“I’d simply say this: It’s fairly routine for Turkish authorities to arrest people with suspected terrorist links,” Morrison said.

Concerns about Australians and New Zealanders’ safety at Gallipoli escalated last month when a diplomatic row flared between Turkey and Australia after an Australian was arrested in the killings of 50 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Australians and New Zealanders going to Turkey with anti-Muslim views would return home in coffins, like their ancestors who fought at Gallipoli.

Morrison slammed the comments as “highly offensive,” but later said tensions had eased after Erdogan’s office explained the president’s words were “taken out of context.”

ANZAC Day services were held throughout Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, with Britain’s Prince William laying a wreath in the New Zealand city of Auckland.

The Duke of Cambridge will on Friday visit the mosques in Christchurch where 50 Muslims were killed and another 50 wounded.

Source: Fox News World

Britain’s Prince William has arrived in New Zealand for a two-day visit to commemorate wartime soldiers and visit survivors of last month’s mosque attacks.

The Duke of Cambridge attended an Anzac Day service in Auckland on Thursday morning. Anzac Day is a national holiday similar to Memorial Day in the U.S. It marks the anniversary of New Zealand and Australian soldiers, known as Anzacs, landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. More than 10,000 soldiers from the two countries were killed during that WWI campaign in what’s now Turkey.

William is scheduled to fly to Christchurch on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, he will visit the two mosques where a gunman killed 50 people on March 15. He plans to meet with first responders, Muslim leaders and survivors of the attacks.

Source: Fox News World

A 25-year-old man pleaded guilty in an Australian court on Wednesday to murdering his three children, wife and mother-in-law in the west coast city of Perth last year.

Anthony Robert Harvey made the plea in an appearance in Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court via video link from prison.

He is to appear at a sentencing hearing in the Western Australia state Supreme Court on June 21. He faces a possible life sentence for each conviction.

The professional gardener killed his wife, Mara Lee Harvey, 41, her 3-year-old daughter Charlotte, and 2-year-old twin sisters Alice and Beatrix in their suburban home on Sept. 3. He then killed 73-year-old Beverley Ann Quinn when she came to visit the next morning.

Harvey stayed in the house for days after the murders before driving 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) north to the mining town of Pannawonica, where he told police on Sept. 9 what he had done.

Police found the bodies of the wife and her mother in the kitchen. The children were found in other rooms.

No explanation for the murders has been submitted to court.

Police said a blunt instrument and knives were used to slay the family.

Source: Fox News World

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

10:25

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she hasn’t received any official advice from Sri Lanka or seen any intelligence reports to corroborate claims from Sri Lanka’s government that the Easter attacks were in retaliation for the mosque massacres in Christchurch last month.

Ardern told reporters in Auckland that Sri Lanka is in the early stages of its investigation, and that New Zealand plans to stand back and allow it to proceed. She said she hadn’t been in direct contact with Sri Lanka, although officials from the two countries were in contact.

Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said earlier the government had evidence the bombings were carried out by an Islamic fundamentalist group in retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch that killed 50 people.

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10:15 a.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka says the FBI is on the ground in the country to help assist its investigation into the Easter suicide bombings that killed 359 people.

The embassy said it was part of the support extended by President Trump.

The embassy in Colombo declined to immediately elaborate.

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9 a.m.

Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58.

The prime minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.

Another top government official said the suicide bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre last month.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that purported to show the attackers. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.

Source: Fox News World

The death toll from the Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka rose to 359 and more suspects have been arrested, police said Wednesday.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility and released images that purported to show the seven bombers who blew themselves up at three churches and three hotels Sunday in the worst violence this South Asian island nation has seen since its civil war ended a decade ago.

The government has said the attacks were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre last month but has said the seven bombers were all Sri Lankan. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said investigators were still working to determine the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58. The prime minister had warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.

The Islamic State group has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria and has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility around the world.

Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaar, whose leader, alternately known as Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary speeches online.

The IS group’s Aamaq news agency released an image purported to show the leader of the attackers, standing amid seven others whose faces are covered. The group did not provide any other evidence for its claim, and the identities of those depicted in the image were not independently verified.

Meanwhile, in an address to Parliament, Ruwan Wijewardene, the state minister of defense, said “weakness” within Sri Lanka’s security apparatus led to the failure to prevent the nine bombings.

“By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack,” Wijewardene said. “However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials.”

In a live address to the nation late Tuesday, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said he also was kept in the dark on the intelligence about the planned attacks and vowed to “take stern action” against the officials who failed to share the information. He also pledged “a complete restructuring” of the security forces.

Wijewardene said the government had evidence that the bombings were carried out “by an Islamic fundamentalist group” in retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people, although he did not disclose what the evidence was.

The office of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a statement responding to the Christchurch claim that described Sri Lanka’s investigation as “in its early stages.”

“New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based,” it said. An Australian white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was arrested in the Christchurch shootings.

Word from international intelligence agencies that National Towheed Jamaar was planning attacks apparently didn’t reach the prime minister’s office until after the massacre, exposing continuing turmoil in Sri Lanka’s government.

A block on most social media since the attacks has left a vacuum of information, fueling confusion and giving little reassurance the danger had passed.

Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could unleash instability and he vowed to “vest all necessary powers with the defense forces” to act against those responsible.

The history of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, a country of 21 million including large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, is rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict.

In the nation’s 26-year civil war, the Tamil Tigers, a powerful rebel army known for using suicide bombers, had little history of targeting Christians and was crushed by the government in 2009. Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country recently.

In March 2018, Buddhist mobs ransacked businesses and set houses on fire in Muslim neighborhoods around Kandy, a city in central Sri Lanka that is popular with tourists.

After the mob attacks, Sri Lanka’s government also blocked some social media sites, hoping to slow the spread of false information or threats that could incite more violence.

Sri Lanka has no history of Islamic militancy. Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment.

Source: Fox News World

Three crew members aboard a helicopter that crashed off the New Zealand coast while on route to attempt a medical evacuation from a fishing boat have been found alive on a remote island.

Rescue Coordination Centre duty manager Kevin Banaghan says the crew members were found Tuesday in their survival suits walking on a beach on uninhabited Auckland Island, some 500 kilometers (311 miles) southwest of Invercargill where they’d left from.

Banaghan says they don’t have all the details yet on what happened but the outcome is great news.

He says the final contact with the helicopter was at 7:37 p.m. Monday and it dropped from radar soon after. A P-3 Orion plane searched unsuccessfully for the helicopter overnight, before a fishing boat found a side door Tuesday.

Source: Fox News World

Paramedics say a father saved his 14-month-old son from dingoes that dragged the boy from a campsite on an Australian island.

Paramedic Ben Du Toit says the boy had deep cuts on his head from the attack on Fraser Island in Queensland state.

The family was sleeping when a dingo entered their campervan. Du Toit says the parents awoke to their son’s cries, the sound fading as he was dragged away.

The father ran outside and fought off several dingoes to rescue his son.

Frank Bertoli, a pilot for RACQ Life Flight, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the parents’ “quick thinking” probably saved the boy from more severe injuries.

The boy was airlifted to a hospital early Friday.

Bertoli says it’s the third dingo attack on Fraser Island this year.

Source: Fox News World

A naval commodore who served as New Zealand’s senior military attache to the United States has been found guilty of planting a hidden camera in a bathroom at the embassy in Washington.

A jury in the Auckland District Court deliberated for 4 1/2 hours on Thursday before finding Commodore Alfred Harold Keating guilty on a charge of attempting to make an intimate visual recording. He will be sentenced on June 25 and faces the possibility of up to three years in jail.

Judge Robert Ronayne told the jury there was no dispute that a camera was hidden in the embassy bathroom.

Keating resigned from the defense force after pleading not guilty in March, ending a 40-year career during which he became one of New Zealand’s most senior naval officers.

Source: Fox News World

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on the campaign trail ahead of the May 18 federal election which will determine whether the country’s conservative government will get a third term.

Morrison was greeting voters in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield on Saturday. Morrison shook hands with people in the community and was mingling with the residents.

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Sky News Australia captured the moment Morrison shook a woman’s hand and greeted her with, “Hello, how are you, ni hao” which is Mandarin for, “hello.”

However, the women quickly corrected the prime minister.

“No, no, no, I’m Korean,” she replied.

Morrison recovered to tell the crowd that he was “no Asian languages expert, so I’m gonna say g’day to everybody”, The Guardian reported.

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A recent Ipsos poll, published by the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, gave Bill Shorten’s Labor party a lead over Morrison’s Coalition 53-47 ahead of the election on May 18.

“[The election] will determine the economy that Australians live in, not just for the next three years, but for the next decade,” Morrison said at a press conference earlier this month.

Source: Fox News World


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