Zahran Hashim named as suicide bomber in unconfirmed local media reports.
This is the face of the mastermind behind the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday, unconfirmed reports in local media have claimed. Zahran Hashim, a radical Islamic cleric known for posting incendiary videos on YouTube, was allegedly one of the suicide bombers who targeted the Shangri La hotel in Colombo.
Earlier indicators suggest those behind the devastating blasts which killed 290 people and wounded around 500 more were inspired by ISIS, a US official told CNN. Hashim had also wanted to attack the Indian High Commission in the capital of Sri Lanka on April 4 but failed to do so, intelligence sources told CNN-News18.
It comes after government officials accused the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) of carrying out the bombs in five-star hotels and churches. While no group has admitted the carnage, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne on Monday said authorities believed the NTJ was behind the suicide bombings.
The terror group is thought to have split off from another Islamist organisation in the South Asian country, the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ). SLTJ, have condemned the attack, strongly deny any links with the NTJ and say they actively oppose the group. The secretary of the SLTJ, Abdul Razik has been arrested several times on charges of inciting religious unrest.
In 2016, authorities were warned there would be a ‘blood bath’ by the head of radical Buddhist group BSS, Galagodaatte Gnanasara, if Razik was not arrested. Before being named prime suspects in the blasts which killed 39 foreign tourists and injured another 28, the group were known for little more than being linked to vandalising Buddhist statues.
In January, four Muslim radicals were detained after Sri Lankan security forces discovered 100 kilogrammes of high explosives and 100 detonators near a remote wildlife park. Meanwhile, authorities said 24 people have been arrested over the Easter bombings and that they were hunting for links between the group and foreign backers.
National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) is being accused of having carried out the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.
A radical Islamic group blamed for a series of suicide bombings that killed almost 300 people and injured about 500 others in Sri Lanka was a local branch of ISIS, it is claimed. Members of National Thowheed Jamath are alleged to have blown themselves up at three churches and three hotels on the Indian Ocean island with help from an international network.
However, neither NTJ, nor any other group, has admitted carrying out the wave of bombings which tore through the island, killing almost 300 people. But still, the allegation raises the question, who are NTJ?
It is believed to be a splinter group of the hardline Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), and its name roughly translates as National Monotheism Organisation. Until Monday, when the Sri Lankan government spokesman mentioned their name, very few people had heard of the NTJ. The group is believed to have splintered off from another hardline Islamist group in the country, the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ).
While still relatively unknown, the SLTJ is a bit more established. Their secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested in 2016 for inciting hatred against Buddhists. He later issued an apology.
Some reports have also linked the NTJ to a spate of vandalism last December that targeted Buddhist temples in Mawanella, central Sri Lanka. Then, they attacked the faces of Buddha statues that were on display outside the temples.
But they are an extremist fringe group within an already small religious minority – only 9.7% of Sri Lanka’s population of about 21 million are Muslim.
Their social media presence is sparse, too. Although they have a Facebook page, it is only updated every few weeks or so. Their Twitter page hasn’t been updated since March 2018.
The group’s website is also offline – although it’s not clear if it was taken down before or after Sunday’s attacks.
Sri Lankan government officials on Monday said a local militant group called National Thowfeek Jamaath carried out multiple suicide bomb attacks.
The Sri Lankan government believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks that killed nearly 300 people, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said Monday. Another 500 people were injured in the suicide attacks on churches and hotels. Police arrested 24 people in a series of raids and the president’s office declared a state of national emergency.
The emergency declaration, which comes into effect from midnight (18:30 GMT) on Monday, will give police and military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
On Monday, another blast rocked a street near a church in the capital, Colombo. Police were attempting to defuse explosives in a vehicle used by the attackers when it blew up. It is not yet known if anyone was hurt.
Sri Lankan authorities were warned about a bomb threat from National Thowheed Jamath a full two weeks before the attacks, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said at a press conference.
Mr Senaratne said that authorities believed the bombers had international support. “We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” he said, adding: “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”
A later statement said President Maithripala Sirisena would ask for foreign help to track down the international links to the attackers.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack which killed 290 people.
Islamic State supporters are celebrating the Sri Lanka suicide bombings which killed 290 people on Easter Sunday and left around another 500 injured.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist activity online, said ISIS fanatics were praising the terror attacks as revenge for the Christchurch mosques shooting.
No group has officially claimed responsibility for the blasts at five-star hotels and churches but Sri Lankan police say a previously unknown Muslim extremist group were the subject of an intelligence warning ten days before.
Early evidence points towards Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), according to intelligence chiefs, who warn that more attacks are expected.
Rita Katz, director of respected terror monitoring SITE Intelligence Group, said IS supporters have applauded the attacks on social media, ‘celebrating casualties’.
207 people have been killed in the Easter Sunday attacks.
At least 207 people have been killed and 450 more injured in a series of explosions targeting churches holding Easter services and hotels in Sri Lanka. Most of the dead are believed to have been Sri Lankans, but officials say about 30 people from other countries have lost their lives. Three UK nationals and two US-UK dual nationals were among the dead. One Dutch, one Chinese, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals have been killed, their respective foreign ministries have confirmed.
Here is what we know so far:
WHo did it?
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said the culprits had been identified and were religious extremists. He said suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.
There have now been 13 people arrested in connection to the bombings, the BBC’s Azzam Ameen has reported.
Social media services blocked
The Sri Lankan government has imposed an indefinite curfew and shut down social media and messaging services amid fears over the spread of misinformation and the incitement of racial disharmony.
25 killed foreigners remain unidentified
Eleven are confirmed dead, with nine reported missing, and 25 unidentified people believed to be foreigners remain at the Colombo judicial medical officer’s mortuary. Nineteen foreign nationals have been hospitalised and are at Colombo’s national hospital, according to the ministry.
Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena said he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm.
At least 156 people are dead in an Easter Sunday terrorist attack targeting Christians in Sri Lanka after eight explosions ripped through high-end hotels and churches as suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up. The initial six explosions injured as many as 500 people, including Japanese and British citizens, and 35 foreigners – from the UK, US and Netherlands – are among the dead, sources say.
Reports now indicate a seventh explosion in the southern Colombo suburb of Dehiwala – which killed two people – and an eighth in the northern suburb of Orugodawatta.
Sri Lanka’s defence ministry has now ordered a night-time curfew, starting at 6.00pm local time (12.30GMT), running until 6.00am local time, and the Sri Lankan government said it had shut down access to social media messaging services, sources say. State minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators have identified the culprits behind the ‘terrorist’ attacks, and those responsible were religious extremists who would be taken into custody ‘as soon as possible’.
Two of the blasts were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers, according to one security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with reporters.
The official said at least 45 people had been killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit, along with another 67 in the church attack in Negombo, north of the capital, with another 25 dead at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.
The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. The first blasts were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital, with another reported at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.
Apple and Google have removed TikTok, which allows users to create and share videos, from their app stores in India.
The move follows a ruling by the Madras High Court, which ordered its removal from app stores over concerns that it was being used to spread pornography.
India’s top court on Tuesday refused an appeal by its owner, Chinese company ByteDance, to suspend the order.
TikTok has more than 120 million users in India but has faced criticism from some for hosting inappropriate content.
Hugely popular with teenagers, it allows people to post short videos of themselves lip-syncing and dancing to their favourite songs, performing short comedy skits or completing challenges.
The app is already banned in Bangladesh and has been fined in the US for illegally collecting information on children .
TikTok users in India who had previously downloaded the app on their phones were still able to use the service on Wednesday.
The cathedral’s spire has collapsed, but officials said the structure’s two main towers had been saved.
A major fire has engulfed one of France’s most famous landmarks – the medieval Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. Firefighters are battling to save the 850-year-old Gothic building, but its spire and roof have collapsed. The cause is not yet clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work.
A Paris fire official said the main structure had now been “saved and preserved”. The Paris prosecutor’s office said it has opened an inquiry into “accidental destruction by fire.”
Loud bangs could be heard as flames burst through the cathedral’s roof, also destroying its stained-glass windows. All efforts are now being put into saving the cathedral’s artwork and preventing the collapse of its northern tower. Thousands of people have gathered in the streets around the cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers.
Several churches around the French capital have been ringing their bells in response to the blaze. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre Dame with help from the international community after a devastating fire gutted the famous cathedral on Monday night.
Speaking just hours after the roof of the 850-year-old building caved in, Macron told the world’s assembled press that a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre Dame would be launched Tuesday, and he called on the world’s ‘greatest talents’ to help.
More charges expected against Assange in US hacking case.
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court. He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.
The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download classified databases.
He faces up to five years in US prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Why does the US government want to extradite Assange?
Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.
The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.
Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website.
At least 18 people were killed and around 100 others were wounded in flash floods in Iran’s southern province of Fars, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday, following devastating floods in the north.
State TV said several provinces were also on high alert for more imminent flooding because of heavy rain. The meteorology department warned people about rain forecast for the coming days, state radio reported, urging them to avoid any trips.
As the victims of the northern Iran flood struggled with the water and mud, President Hassan Rouhani’s hardline rivals have criticized his government for doing too little, too late.