Sri Lanka Catholics hold first Sunday mass after Easter attacks

Sri Lanka’s police say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings but that the threat of global terrorism persists. (File/AP)
Updated 12 May 2019

Sri Lanka Catholics hold first Sunday mass after Easter attacks

  • Soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles guarded St. Theresa’s church at Colombo’s Thimbirigasyaya residential quarter
  • Regular services were canceled across all churches soon after the deadly suicide attacks

COLOMBO: Thousands of Catholics attended mass in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo Sunday amid tight security to prevent a repeat of Easter bomb attacks that killed 258 people.
Soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles guarded St. Theresa’s church at Colombo’s Thimbirigasyaya residential quarter, while members of the congregation were searched for explosives.
The sprawling church car park was empty as the authorities did not allow any vehicles into the compound as part of high-level security.
The government has blamed local militants for the deadly April 21 bombings, which targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels.
Regular services were canceled across all churches soon after the deadly suicide attacks, but the archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith announced Thursday that mass would be held in his diocese from Sunday.
The Cardinal conducted private Sunday services in the past two weeks, which were broadcast live on national television.
He also said a special mass for the victims of the April 21 attack at the St. Lucia’s cathedral on Saturday. The congregation was made up of relatives of victims and survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks.
At least 258 were killed and nearly 500 people were wounded.
Most churches outside Colombo had resumed regular services from last week, but under tight security provided by the local police.
Catholic private schools which remained closed after the Easter holidays will now reopen on Tuesday, church officials said.
All state-run schools — more than 10,000 in total — resumed classes last week after police and security forces deployed armed guards.
But attendance has been low despite a raft of new security measures, including parking restrictions near schools.
The government has blamed a local group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), for the bombings. The Daesh group claimed responsibility and the bombers filmed themselves making a pledge of allegiance to the militants’ elusive leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi before the attacks.
The authorities have banned the NTJ under new emergency laws that were invoked to deal with Islamists responsible for the attacks.
President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to eliminate the militants and restore normality in the country which is still emerging from a 37-year Tamil separatist war that ended almost a decade ago.
Sri Lanka’s police say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings but that the threat of global terrorism persists.


Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

Updated 48 min 9 sec ago

Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

  • Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts
  • Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016

JAKARTA: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday she had been asked by President Joko Widodo to stay on in her post as his new cabinet takes shape for a second five-year term in office.

Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts, including his presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, who looks set to be defense minister.

The candidates — all wearing white shirts — have come to the presidential palace to be interviewed by Widodo, with most declining to confirm the positions offered ahead of an official announcement expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Widodo, Indrawati said she had agreed to stay on as finance minister and to ensure policies supported the president’s priorities such as improving human resources, creating jobs and executing government budgets well.

“Indonesia I think is facing a very dynamic and uncertain global economy and an economic slowdown that is pressuring the whole world,” Indrawati said.

“Therefore, a continued policy is needed in order to be able to guard our economy from the challenge of this global slowdown,” she said, noting she also discussed ways to narrow Indonesia’s current account and trade deficits.

Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016, spearheading tax reform efforts, seeking to capitalize on a tax amnesty program in 2016-2017. She is now one of the longest serving finance ministers in Indonesia, having also held the post in the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Sri Mulyani is seen as a key architect behind the fiscal discipline in recent years and many wish for her continued leadership in driving deeper fiscal reforms,” Bank of America wrote in a note.

The make-up of the cabinet is being closely watched to see how many technocrats — who are more likely to fall in with Widodo’s plans for boosting growth and investment — were included.

Other ministerial candidates who came to the palace on Tuesday included Basuki Hadimuljono, who is credited with driving infrastructure projects as public works minister in Widodo’s first term, and Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister in the first term.

On Monday, Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive of tech startup Gojek and media tycoon Erick Thohir, a former chairman of Italian soccer club Inter Milan, were among those confirming they had been asked to join the cabinet.

Speaking to media ahead of his inauguration on Sunday, Widodo said around 16 ministers in the new cabinet would come from political parties out of an anticipated 34 posts.