Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.
 


Saudi Arabia stresses need for enhanced cooperation in global fight against terrorism

Updated 40 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia stresses need for enhanced cooperation in global fight against terrorism

  • No effort is being spared in the fight against terrorism in the Kingdom
  • A number of initiatives have been developed to address the problem of returning terrorist fighters

JEDDAH: The fight against terrorism remains a global priority, Saudi Arabia said on Thursday, as the Kingdom emphasized the need for the international community to work together to eradicate the threat it poses.

The comments were included in a speech delivered by the Saudi delegation at the 28th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Geneva. Led by Interior Ministry adviser Abdullah Al-Ansari, the delegates presented a review of the Kingdom’s efforts in the realms of crime prevention and criminal justice. They highlighted the fact that no effort is being spared in the fight against terrorism, which is a high priority for the nation.

The Saudis also stressed the need for continued international cooperation to defeat terrorism, and said that the Kingdom has ratified most of the international measured designed to combat the threat. The country has also implemented a number of anti-terror measures, including: the establishment of a Presidency of State Security to address security challenges, in particular those posed by terrorism and its financing; the founding of a National Cybersecurity Authority to address cyber threats; and the amendment of counterterrorism laws.

The commission heard that the Kingdom’s security services had uncovered and disrupted active terrorist cells across the country. In addition, a number of initiatives have been developed to address the problem of returning terrorist fighters. These include the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, the members of which includes the GCC states, and which is jointly led by Saudi Arabia and the United States. It maintains strict control over the banking sector, ensures the proper organization of the charitable sector, and imposes sanctions on those found guilty of financing terrorism.

The delegation pointed out that the Kingdom continues to lay the foundations for a long-term strategy to defeat extremism. This includes the founding of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, and the expansion of anti-extremism programs through the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue to address the growing threat of radicalization and recruitment of young people by armed militias such as Daesh.

At the international level, the Kingdom has pledged $100 million to support the G5 Sahel counterterrorism task force in West Africa, and is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. In addition, Saudi experts participate in joint military programs targeting terrorism around the world.

The country also hosted a meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition to address the ideological, financial, military and media aspects of the fight against terrorism, and the Ministry of Interior has implemented numerous judicial and legal assistance requests to assist in the battle.

A number of draft resolutions arose from the session, the most important of which included: technical assistance for the implementation of international counterterrorism conventions; combating the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children; strengthening technical assistance and international cooperation to combat cybercrime; and the adoption of preparations for the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in April 2020 in Kyoto, Japan. During discussions about these resolutions, most of the amendments suggested by the Kingdom were adopted to strengthen international cooperation.

The Saudi delegates also held meetings with officials from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, including officials from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and the Bureau of Counterterrorism. They discussed ways to enhance cooperation and enhance the capability of law-enforcement officers to combat such crimes.