At least nine killed in explosion amid protest in Colombia

Indigenous people set up a barricade blocking the Pan-American highway during a protest to demand the fulfillment of several agreements on territory, democracy, justice, security and peace, in Mondomo, Cauca department, Colombia on March 14, 2019. (AFP / Luis Robayo)
Updated 22 March 2019
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At least nine killed in explosion amid protest in Colombia

  • Hundreds of members of indigenous groups have halted traffic on major highway, demanding land titles and funding for social programs
  • About a million Colombians are members of indigenous groups

BOGOTA, Colombia: At least nine people were killed and four injured in an unexplained explosion on Thursday in an indigenous area in Colombia’s mountainous southwest, local authorities said.
The incident came on the 10th day of a blockade of the area’s major highway. Hundreds of members of indigenous groups have halted traffic on the roadway, demanding land titles and funding for social programs.
One policeman has been killed during the protest, which has caused shortages of gasoline and foodstuffs in some cities. Several vehicles have also been burned.
The explosion on Thursday took place in a house in Dagua municipality, an area largely inhabited by indigenous groups, the provincial government and disaster agency of Valle del Cauca province said.
Colombia, which has more than 45 million inhabitants, has more than 85 ethnic groups. About a million Colombians are members of indigenous groups.


Sri Lankan police hold alleged trainer of suicide bombers

Updated 8 min 40 sec ago
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Sri Lankan police hold alleged trainer of suicide bombers

  • Arrested Egyptian national living in Sri Lanka illegally for four years, police say
  • Eight countries promise help to combat terror, says leader

COLOMBO: An Egyptian man arrested north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Wednesday is alleged to have trained suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks on the island, investigators said. 
 
The 44-year-old Egyptian national was arrested in Madampe, a coastal town 40 km north of Colombo, following a tip-off.
 
Ruwan Gunasekera, a Colombo police spokesman, said that the man had been living illegally on the island without a passport or valid visa for more than four years.
 
Police are investigating whether the suspect trained the suicide bombers responsible for a wave of attacks on hotels and churches on the island that left more than 350 people dead and hundreds injured.
 
Eight of the nine suicide bombers have been identified by police, the spokesman said.
 
The names of the attackers were withheld because of security concerns. However, Arab News learned that among the nine were Mohammed Insaf and Mohammed Azaam Mohammed Mubarak, who struck the Shangri La Hotel.

State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said that most of the suicide bombers were well educated and hailed from upper middle-class families. One of the bombers had studied in the UK and did his doctorate in Australia, he added.
 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Niluka Kudirgamuwa told Arab News on Wednesday that the bodies of 13 of the 36 foreigners killed in the bomb blasts have been repatriated. Fourteen foreign tourists are still missing.
 
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told foreign ambassadors on Tuesday that eight countries, including the US and Germany, have pledged technological and intelligence assistance to combat terror on the island.
 
He appealed to other countries to cooperate “in this fight against the menace of terrorism.”
 
The Sri Lankan leader said that law enforcement agencies had acted swiftly to identify and arrest those responsible for acts of terrorism.
 
Envoys who offered help included representatives of the UN and EU, and ambassadors of Germany, the US, Denmark, Norway and Pakistan.
 
Sirisena said that intelligence gained during the 30-year civil war on the island will be used in the fight against terrorism following the introduction of emergency powers.
 
A block on social media will be lifted by Thursday, he said. 
Meanwhile, Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told Muslim foreign ambassadors and high commissioners who visited him to offer their condolences on Wednesday, that Muslims have successfully coexisted with other communities in the island for centuries.

Turkish Ambassador Tunca Ozcuhadar said the attack is neither communal nor political but was carried out by a group of misled youths who may have had some links with some extremist groups.