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Sri Lanka can’t arrest citizens who joined ISIS: PM Ranil

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Colombo: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the government had known that Sri Lankan nationals who had joined the Islamic State had returned to the country, but they could not be arrested as joining a foreign terrorist organisation is not against the law.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Easter terror attacks on three Catholic churches and three luxury hotels that claimed 253 lives but the government has blamed a local Islamist extremist group National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) for the bombings.

“We knew they went to Syria…But in our country, to go abroad and return or to take part in a foreign armed uprising is not an offence here,” Wickremesinghe told Sky News. “We have no laws which enable us to take into custody people who join foreign terrorist groups. We can take those who are, who belong to terrorist groups operating in Sri Lanka,” he was quoted as saying.

 

Facing public criticism for not acting against Islamist extremist groups in the island nation, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said some of the suspected attackers responsible for the Easter bombings were being monitored by the country’s intelligence services. But authorities did not have “sufficient” evidence to place the suspected attackers in custody prior to the attacks, he said.

Top officials have acknowledged that Sri Lanka received intelligence about possible terror strikes ahead of the attacks, but both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Mnister Wickremesinghe have said that they did not receive the information.

Wickremesinghe told CNN that he did not rule out the possibility of more attacks in the country. He said authorities were now focussing on “sleepers” – terrorists who could activate another round of attacks.

“Police and security forces are rounding up those involved, but they’re also rounding up the sleepers, those used on second and third rounds (of attacks),” he said.

“The danger has come down drastically, (but) we do have to pick up some more sleepers, which we will do in the next few days.” Sri Lankan police have released photos of six suspects, including three women, wanted for their involvement in the attacks and sought information regarding them from the public.

Authorities earlier said nine bombers, believed to be members of local Islamist extremist group NTJ, carried out the blasts.


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International

Secret locations of US nuclear weapons in Europe accidentally leaked

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Washington: The secret locations of US nuclear weapons stored in Europe have been accidentally revealed in a report published by a Nato committee.

The document referred to the sites of roughly 150 American nuclear weapons.

“These bombs are stored at six US and European bases — Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in The Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey,” a section of the report seen by Belgian newspaper De Morgen said.

 

The information was included in an early version of the report published in April by the Defence and Security Committee of the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, titled A New Era for Nuclear Deterrence? Modernisation, Arms Control and Allied Nuclear Forces.

However, the reference has since been removed from the final version released last week.

The latest version of the report instead makes reference to aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons, adding: “The European Allies often cited as operating such aircraft are Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Turkey.”

A Nato official told The Washington Post the report was “not an official Nato document” and pointed out that it was written by the alliance’s parliamentary assembly.

“We do not comment on the details of Nato’s nuclear posture,” they added.

While the storing of American nuclear weapons in Europe has long been regarded as an open secret, media organisations on the continent viewed the document as confirmation.

“Finally in black and white: There are American nuclear weapons in Belgian,” the De Morgen report was headlined.

“Nato reveals the Netherlands’ worst-kept secret,” Dutch broadcaster RTL News said.

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‘They gave you Nobel for what?’ Trump asks Yazidi activist Nadia Murad

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Washington: US President Donald Trump appeared unfamiliar with the work and cause of Nobel laureate Nadia Murad as she pleaded with him to help the Yazidis of Iraq.

Murad, one of thousands of women and girls from the ancient faith abducted by ISIS as they overran swathes of Iraq in 2014, joined a group of survivors of religious persecution who met Trump in the Oval Office on the sidelines of a major meeting at the State Department.

After Murad explained how her mother and six brothers were killed and that 3,000 Yazidis remained missing, Trump said, “And you had the Nobel Prize? That’s incredible. They gave it to you for what reason?”

 

With little pause, Murad, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, repeated her story.

“After all this happened to me, I didn’t give up. I make it clear to everyone that ISIS raped thousands of Yazidi women,” she said.

“Please do something. It’s not about one family,” she said.

Trump, who has boasted of crushing the self-styled caliphate of ISIS that once stretched across Iraq and Syria, also appeared at a loss when Murad asked him to press the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to create safe conditions for the Yazidis to return.

“But ISIS is gone and now it’s Kurdish and who?” Trump asked, before later telling her, “I know the area very well.”

Murad also explained how Yazidis took dangerous routes to find safety in Germany, whose welcome to refugees has been vocally criticized by Trump.

The US leader also appeared unfamiliar when he met a representative from the Rohingya, a Muslim minority targeted in a brutal campaign two years ago in Myanmar.

One day earlier, his administration banned travel to the United States by Myanmar’s army chief and three other senior officers, calling the violence “ethnic cleansing.”


The Trump administration frequently speaks of promoting religious freedom, a key issue for much of his evangelical Christian base.

Government ministers and representatives of persecuted groups are spending three days at the State Department for a meeting on religious freedom, which Vice President Mike Pence will address on Thursday.

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Iran FM at UN accuses US of ‘economic terrorism’

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Tehran: Iran’s foreign minister has renewed accusations that the United States was waging “economic terrorism,” on a visit to the United Nations during which Washington has sharply curtailed his movements.

After months of soaring tensions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came to New York for a UN session on sustainable development, where he denounced unilateral sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.

Iranians are “subjected to the most brutal form of ‘economic terrorism’ — deliberately targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives,” Zarif said from the rostrum on Wednesday.

 

The “unlawful, extraterritorial” sanctions “represent the greatest threat to the achievement of sustainable development goals of Iran and many of our neighbours,” he said.

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