Sri Lanka to dig up suspected Muslim mass grave

Updated 24 June 2014
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Sri Lanka to dig up suspected Muslim mass grave

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities are to dig up the site of a suspected mass grave next week after claims it contains the bodies of scores of Muslims killed by Tamil rebels 24 years ago, police said.
The move comes amid criticism that Sri Lankan authorities have been turning a blind eye to recent attacks against Muslims carried out by Buddhist militants. At least four Muslims were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed in rioting last week at two southern resort towns.
"The site will be exhumed on July 1," a police statement said adding that security has been tightened in the area ahead of the exhumation.
"According to the complainant, the bodies of nearly 100 Muslims killed by the Tigers are buried there."
The announcement came the day after a judge ordered the dig to be carried out following a complaint from a local resident that nearly 100 people were killed by militants in the east coast town of Kalavanchikudy in 1990 before then being buried on the beach.
Sri Lanka's 37-year civil war, which ended in 2009, mainly pitted the majority ethnic Sinhalese, who are Buddhists, against the minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus and live in the north.
The Muslim community, which accounts for around 10 percent of the island's population and is concentrated in the east, largely avoided being caught up in the fighting.
But there have been allegations that the Tigers carried out several massacres of Muslims in the east as part of their push to create a separate Tamil homeland.
Several mass graves have been found in Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict, mainly inside the former war zone but also in areas which were largely unaffected by the conflict which claimed around 100,000 lives.
Sri Lanka's government, whose troops are accused of the mass killing of civilians in the latter stages of the war, has been heavily criticised for failing to prevent last week's riots.


Indonesia investigates reports top Daesh commander killed

Updated 24 April 2018
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Indonesia investigates reports top Daesh commander killed

  • Online messages from Daesh propagandists say Bahrumsyah, an Indonesian national, died after US air strikes hit Hajjin, north of the Syrian city of Abu Kamal
  • His death, if confirmed, would be a blow to pro-Daesh forces in Southeast Asia

JAKARTA/MANILA: Indonesia is investigating reports from Daesh supporters that the most senior Southeast Asian commander of the militant group was killed by US air strikes in eastern Syria last week, counter-terrorism officials said.
Online messages from Daesh propagandists viewed by Reuters say Bahrumsyah, an Indonesian national, died after US air strikes hit Hajjin, north of the Syrian city of Abu Kamal, last Tuesday.
A spokesman for Indonesia’s foreign ministry, Arrmanatha Nasir, said the embassy in Syria had made enquiries but had yet to confirm Bahrumsyah’s death.
Two senior Indonesian counter-terrorism officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were taking the online reports seriously.
“We are in the process of investigating,” said one senior official with Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency.
If the reports were true, it would become a “motivation to carry out reprisal attacks” in Indonesia, the senior official said.
A Pentagon spokesman, Eric Pahon, said US aircraft were bombing the “general area” in eastern Syria on the day Bahrumsyah is believed to have died but was unable to confirm his death.
As well as leading Katibah Nusantara, an armed unit comprising more than 100 Southeast Asians, Bahrumsyah also organized funding for the Islamist rebels who captured part of the southern Philippines city of Marawi in a bloody siege last year, analysts and officials say.
A message purportedly from the Daesh figure Abu Nuh reviewed by Reuters said Bahrumsyah had been attending a meeting of leaders when he was killed. An Daesh headquarters and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device factory were destroyed in the attack, the message said.
Another post eulogized the Indonesian, receiving sympathetic comments and crying emojis.
There were reports last year of Bahrumsyah’s death, but analyst Sidney Jones from the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said the latest had a “much higher degree of credibility”.
“As far as we know, he was the highest ranking Indonesian to fight with ISIS. The fact that he commanded a fighting unit that was recognized by ISIS underscores his importance,” said Jones, using an alternative acronym for Daesh.
His death, if confirmed, would be a blow to pro-Daesh forces in Southeast Asia, where fears of hardened fighters returning from Syria as the militants’ self-declared caliphate crumbles has authorities on alert.
More than 600 Indonesians, including at least 166 women and children, traveled to Syria to join Daesh, according to data from Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency reviewed by Reuters.
A further 482 Indonesians were deported by foreign governments trying to join Daesh.
“I don’t expect a flood of people to come back (to Indonesia), although there will be some people trying,” Jones said.