German car attack suspect ordered kept in detention

The Berliner Platz square in Bottrop, western Germany, where a man in a car intentionally hit a group of people during the New Year’s Eve. (Roland Weihrauch /dpa/AFP/File)
Updated 02 January 2019
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German car attack suspect ordered kept in detention

  • The attacks began shortly after midnight on Jan.1, first in Bottrop in western Germany
  • The victims included a 46-year-old Syrian woman who suffered life-threatening injuries

BERLIN: A German man who repeatedly drove into crowds and injured eight people in apparent intentional attacks against foreigners has been ordered kept in detention pending possible charges, police said Wednesday.
The attacks began shortly after midnight on Jan.1, first in Bottrop in western Germany and later in the nearby city of Essen. The 50-year-old suspect, who comes from Essen, is believed to have no previous police record.
The victims included a 46-year-old Syrian woman who suffered life-threatening injuries.
Police said a judge on Tuesday night ordered the suspect held in detention while the investigation on suspicion of attempted murder continues.
They say the suspect made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and there were indications he had been treated for mental illness in the past.
The attacks came after four teenagers from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran were arrested on suspicion of bodily harm following assaults on passers-by near the railway station in the southeastern town of Amberg on Saturday. The four were apparently intoxicated and 12 people were hurt, in most cases slightly.
There was no indication of any link between the events, other than that both underlined tensions in Germany over migration.
German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said Wednesday the government had learned “with dismay” of both the assaults and the attacks.
“There is no place in Germany for extremism, xenophobia and intolerance, no matter what side it comes from,” she told reporters.
The Amberg incident prompted Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to tell the Bild daily that “if asylum-seekers carry out violent crimes, they must leave our country.” He said, if necessary, laws should be changed to make that possible.


Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

  • The Gomez family gather for funeral of a husband and wife and their three sons
  • They were brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine

COLOMBO: The dark wooden coffins, sitting side by side, attested to one family’s unspeakable grief.
The Gomez family gathered Tuesday to say a final farewell to five loved ones — a son, a daughter-in-law and three young grandsons — brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” said Joseph Gomez, the family patriarch, as tears welled in his eyes. Dozens of family members and neighbors were gathered in his simple home, where the sound of hymns sung by mourners gently wafted in the background and candles flickered beside three coffins. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Across Sri Lanka, Tuesday was a national day of mourning as families began to lay to rest the more than 320 victims of the bomb blasts that struck a half-dozen churches and hotels in the island nation.
For the Gomez family, the loss was unfathomable: A 33-year-old son, Berlington Joseph, the young man’s 31-year-old wife Chandrika Arumugam, and their three boys, 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, who would have turned 1 next week. A funeral card with a photo of the family clutched in his hands, the elder Gomez wailed: “I can’t bear this on me, I can’t bear this.”
“My eldest son, my eldest son,” he sobbed as he laid bouquets of red roses and brightly colored daisies on the largest coffin. Next to it was a tiny coffin, a photo of little Avon tucked into a wooden frame nearby.
The coffins, draped with long white tassels, were then carried to a Colombo cemetery and lowered into side-by-side graves.
At St. Joseph’s Shrine, dozens of mourners gathered outside, lighting candles and praying in unison for the victims of Sunday’s blasts as heavily armed soldiers stood guard.
At St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a funeral service was held Tuesday for victims killed there as they worshipped, led by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith. The church was heavily guarded by hundreds of army, air force and police troops, and soldiers were deployed every 15 feet along the streets of the city some 20 miles north of Colombo.
Throughout the country, people observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the near-simultaneous attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, and three other related blasts, the deadliest violence to strike Sri Lanka in a decade.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known local extremist group, and on Tuesday, the Daesh group also claimed responsibility, though it provided no proof it was involved and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.