Sri Lanka, India vow joint efforts against terror

Indian PM Narendra Modi with Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena during his welcome ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 09 June 2019

Sri Lanka, India vow joint efforts against terror

  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe welcomed the Indian premier at the airport
  • The Indian PM also visited St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo, one of the sites of April 21 attacks

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will rise again and “cowardly acts of terror” cannot defeat its spirit, India’s prime minister said on Sunday, as he became the first foreign leader to visit the island after suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people in April.

Narendra Modi was tweeting snippets from his packed itinerary to Sri Lanka, which has been under a state of emergency since terrorists attacked churches and hotels on Easter Sunday on April 21.

His Twitter feed showed him paying his respects at one of the attack sites, St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo, and meeting President Maithripala Sirisena. He was welcomed at the airport by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. “India never forgets her friends when they are in need,” Modi said on arrival.

“I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again,” Modi later tweeted. “Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.”

Modi said that he and Sirisena agreed that terrorism was a joint threat that needed “collective and focused” action. “Reiterated India’s commitment to partner with Sri Lanka for a shared, secure and prosperous future,” he added.

Suicide bombers inflicted devastating blasts on multiple sites in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. It was the country’s deadliest violence since the civil war ended in 2009.

Hotel occupancy across the island has plummeted and its beaches, restaurants and shops are quiet. Tourism authorities said that visitor arrivals would drop between 30 and 50 percent in the two months after the bombings, Reuters news agency reported.

Namal Rajapaksa, parliamentarian and son of opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, said he was grateful for Modi’s “timely” gesture. “This visit won’t just strengthen bilateral ties but is also deeply significant for improving Sri Lanka’s overall image internationally hereafter,” he tweeted.

Modi, still fresh from his landslide election victory last month, also met members of the Indian community in Colombo and thanked them for burnishing India’s reputation on the world stage.

“It is always a delight to interact with the Indian diaspora. Today India’s position in the world is getting stronger and a large part of that credit goes to the Indian diaspora,” he told them.

Modi described the Sri Lanka visit as “short but immensely fruitful.”


NASA investigating first crime committed in space: report

Updated 37 min 52 sec ago

NASA investigating first crime committed in space: report

  • Astronaut Anne McClain is accused of improperly accessing her partner’s private financial records while aboard the International Space Station
  • McClain’s lawyer said the astronaut accessed the account only to monitor the couple’s combined finances

WASHINGTON: US space agency NASA is investigating what may be the first crime committed in outer space, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Astronaut Anne McClain is accused of identity theft and improperly accessing her estranged wife’s private financial records while on a sixth-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the Times said.
The astronaut’s spouse Summer Worden filed a complaint earlier this year with the Federal Trade Commission after learning McClain had accessed her bank account without permission, while Worden’s family filed another with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, according to the newspaper.
McClain’s lawyer said the astronaut had done nothing wrong and accessed the bank records while aboard the ISS in order to monitor the couple’s combined finances — something she had done over the course of their relationship, the Times reported.
NASA investigators have contacted both women, according to the newspaper.
McClain, who returned to Earth in June, gained fame for being one of two women picked for a historic all-female spacewalk, but NASA scrapped the planned walk in March due to a lack of well-fitting spacesuits, sparking accusations of sexism.
Worden said the FTC has not responded to the identity theft report, but that an investigator specializing in criminal cases with NASA’s Office of Inspector General has been looking into the accusation, according to the Times.