Violence – Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew as precautionary measure
Police said sporadic incidents were first reported from the North Western Province where a curfew was imposed from Monday to prevent the spread of violence.
They said that by night the curfew has extended to other areas in the country.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a statement said any ethnic violence could cost security and police resources that should be used for investigations regarding the Easter Sunday bombings.
“I have ordered the forces to strictly enforce the curfew and take action against those creating violence,” he said.
He said that the country would be destabilised if the attacks result in ethnic violence.
The tension started rising Sunday after an incident between the Muslim minority and the Sinhalese majority due to inflammatory messages on social media.
A message shared on Facebook prompted several people to surround and damage an Islamic religious centre on Sunday in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres north of Colombo.
Police arrested one person, identified as Abdul Hameed Mohamed, who had allegedly posted an inflammatory message on Facebook.
Some social media networks were temporarily blocked in Sri Lanka after messages shared online raised religious tensions between some Muslims and Sinhalese.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there were other false messages on social media, which claimed a group of terrorists was arrested close to the capital and that three people pretending to be medical students were arrested at a hospital on the city’s outskirts.
Armed forces and police increased security in the wake of reports that a terrorist group was planning to carry out attacks in several locations in the capital.
Attendance at schools and offices dropped, mostly in Colombo and larger towns.
Security has been tight in Sri Lanka since Easter Sunday, when 257 people were killed in suicide attacks in three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations.
The bombers were identified members of an Islamist extremist group.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena departed for China on Monday and appointed Ruwan Wijewardene as the acting defence minister in his absence.
Anthony Joshua thanks Nigerian envoy for inspiring him
World heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua has expressed appreciation to the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, for psyching him up to reclaim his titles.
After Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz Jr during their first match in New York in June, Okoyen sent him a letter praising his courage and assuring him of Nigeria’s support in his future fights.
The letter obviously meant a lot to the 30-year-old Nigerian-British pugilist, who held it up in a photograph obtained by the Nigeria News Agency .
After reclaiming the titles in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, he reciprocated with words of appreciation to the Consul General.
Joshua’s message was conveyed by a U.S.-based Nigerian journalist, Joi John, who covered the rematch in Saudi Arabia.
The two-time heavyweight boxing champion was quoted as saying that the letter was a big source of inspiration to him at a time he needed it most.
“To Ben. God bless,” Joshua wrote on an autographed copy of the official fight brochure at the Diriyah Arena which he sent to the envoy.
Okoyen displays the autographed brochure from Joshua.
Born in the UK to Nigerian parents, Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua has always identified with his Nigerian heritage.
Moments after defeating Andy Ruiz Jr, he did a video message thanking Nigerians for their support.
9 terror suspects face remand custody hearings in Denmark
Nine suspects face remand custody hearings in Denmark on Thursday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack with a militant Islamist motive.
Danish media reported from the court that one woman and two men appeared at Copenhagen city court where they were charged with attempting to make explosives.
According to the report, in another courtroom at the Copenhagen city court, five other suspects, four men and one woman, were charged with attempting to acquire firearms or to finance the purchase of firearms.
Meanwhile, the ninth suspect was facing a hearing in the city of Odense.
Jorgen Skov, of the Copenhagen police, said that authorities believed the suspects attempted to obtain material to make explosives and acquire firearms.
However, Police have not mentioned any possible target.
Skov said police would request the hearings be held behind closed doors.
Earlier, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, said in a statement that the arrests were “a reminder that there are individuals in Denmark who have the intent and capacity to commit acts of terrorism.”
Netanyahu to give up ministerial portfolios by Jan. 1
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the Justice Ministry on Thursday that he would give up his ministerial portfolios by Jan. 1, in light of corruption charges against him.
In addition to the post of Prime Minister, which he would retain, Netanyahu currently acts as Minister for welfare, Diaspora Affairs, Agriculture and Health.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that Netanyahu would also appoint his replacements by Jan. 1.
Netanyahu’s move comes in response to a petition filed by the good-governance group Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel to the Supreme Court to have him removed from office.
The country will hold an unprecedented third election within a year on March 2, after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself Thursday amid a political stalemate that had grasped Israel since September elections.
Under Israeli law, Netanyahu does not have to step down as Prime Minister if indicted and vowed not to give up the position.
However, legal precedent stipulates that ministers cannot hold on to their position when they are on trial.
In November, Israel’s Attorney-General announced that Netanyahu would be charged with fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases, making him Israel’s first sitting premier to face indictment.
Netanyahu recently spoke of a “witch hunt” and “coup attempt” against him, and has repeatedly hurled attacks at Israel’s Justice Ministry.
Ukraine welcomes U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream-2 pipeline
Ukraine’s leadership, on Thursday welcomed expected U.S. sanctions on the Russian-German Nord Stream-2 natural gas pipeline.
Ukraine had in a very long time protested the project as undermining existing Western economic sanctions to compel Russia to resolve a conflict in Eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, and end its occupation of Crimea region.
According to Ukrainian Presidential Administration, Ukraine is grateful for the votes in favour of sanctions against the pipeline, a political project that undermines the energy security of Europe.
The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk, welcomed congressional approval of the sanctions as good news.
“The sanctions should dramatically complicate the construction of the Russian pipe,’’ he said.
Yemen’s Hodeida remains most dangerous for civilians, aid groups say
Yemen’s port of Hodeida on Thursday continued to be the most dangerous area in the country, several international aid groups said.
According to the group, Dec. 12, makes it exactly one year since a peace deal was reached between Yemeni rivals that promised a ceasefire in the western city.
The Stockholm Agreement was reached in Dec. 2018, following UN-sponsored talks in Sweden between representatives of the government and the Houthi rebels.
It focused on a truce agreement for Hodeida that included a province-wide ceasefire and the withdrawal of Houthi fighters.
The agreement has not been fully implemented.
A group of 15 aid organisations, including the Norwegian Refugee Council and Oxfam, said in a statement that in 2019, 799 civilians were killed and wounded in Hodeida province, representing a quarter of all civilian casualties across Yemen.
“This was the highest toll across war-torn, impoverished Yemen,” they said.
The groups noted that about 390,000 Yemenis had been displaced so far in 2019, in spite of a drop in the levels of violence compared to 2018.
They added that besides Hodeida, the northern provinces of Saada and Hajjah, and the southern Taiz and Dhale were among the most dangerous for civilians in 2019.
“As aid agencies working in Yemen, we are outraged that after almost five years, Yemenis continue to suffer from an incalculable humanitarian crisis fuelled by conflict.
“Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence,” they added.
Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been locked in a devastating power struggle between the Houthis and the government since late 2014.
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