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Mother of Satan bombs show foreign hand in Sri Lanka bombings: investigators

May 21 (AFP) One month after the Sri Lanka suicide attacks that killed more than 250 people, investigators have told AFP the bombers used Mother of Satan explosives favoured by the Islamic State group that are a new sign of foreign involvement. Detectives said the back-pack bombs used in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three hotels were manufactured by local jihadists with Islamic State expertise. more..

Arrested Hansard officer brought to parliament

May 21 (DM) Mohamed Naushad Jalaldeen, the 42-year old senior indexing officer attached to the Hansard Department of parliament, was brought to parliament for investigations today. Security officers inspected the arrested suspect’s room in parliament. The Defence Ministry yesterday permitted a special police team of the Kurunegala Police to detain the suspect for three months for questioning. The senior indexing officer was arrested in Kurunegala on Saturday on charges of aiding and more..

Video: Wimal blasts JVP over no-confidence motion against govt

May 21 (AD) NFF leader MP Wimal Weerawansa today criticized his former party, the JVP, for the motion of no-confidence brought forth by them against the incumbent govt. Speaking to reporters after meeting with the Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in Colombo, he said that they briefed the religious leader on the no-confidence motion brought against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. He said that when a no-confidence motion is brought against the govt at this juncture, more..

In Sri Lanka, Muslims say Sinhala neighbours turned against them

May 21 (AJ) The stench of turpentine overpowered Jiffriya Ameer as she cradled her husband against her lap on the front porch of her home and watched the blood drain from the gaping wound on his head and neck. Her three children watched in horror as their father gasped for breath. She screamed for help, but three police officers just looked on in disbelief, she said. The only vehicle which could take 49-year old Saleem Ameer more..

JVP trying to unite Govt via its NCM: Yapa

May 21 (DM) The JVP is attempting to unite the Govt via its no-confidence motion (NCM) against the Govt which is on the verge of a severe split subsequent to our NCM against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, MP Lakshman Yapa said. He said that the actual purpose of the JVP's NCM was to bring the scattered govt MPs together and uphold the unity in the Govt. “This is not the first time that the JVP has acted on behalf of the govt. However, the move of this nature is somewhat surprising more..

Delay in VAT relief irks tourism industry

May 21 (FT) The delay in legalising the VAT reduction from 15% to 5% for travel and tourism businesses has irked the private sector, despite industry efforts for a fast-track revival post-Easter Sunday setback. “The Cabinet approved the reduction in VAT for the industry two weeks ago, but there has been no follow up to operationalise it, and this is very disappointing,” an industry source said. The frustration was evident, especially during the long weekend in resorts, who lured lots of more..

Sri Lanka likely to miss FY growth target after Easter bombings: junior minister

May 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka is unlikely to hit its full-year economic growth target of 3-4% following the Easter Sunday bombings, junior finance minister Eran Wickremeratne said. A Reuters poll of 10 analysts this month predicted growth could slide to 2.5%, which would be the country’s lowest since 2001. Tourism, foreign investment and overall business activity are all expected to fall, the poll found, more..

Sri Lanka has 1,670 asylum seekers and refugees: UNDP

May 21 (CT) At present, there are 844 refugees and 826 asylum seekers awaiting the determination of their claims in Sri Lanka, making it a total of 1,670, the UNDP, in a recent publication, said. The latest data available is from the Office of the UNHCR, which said as at March 2018, that number stood at 1,450. Those comprised 1,136 Pakistanis, 191 Afghans, 36 Burmese (that is refugees/asylum seekers from Myanmar), 19 Iranians, and 68 belonging to other nationalities. more..

Sri Lanka doubles import tax on onions ahead of harvest

May 21 (EN) Sri Lanka's finance ministry has hiked the import tax on large onion to 40 rupees a kilo from 20, with effective from midnight May 21, the finance ministry said. The so-called special commodity levy has been raised to give higher prices domestic farmers whose products are now coming to the market. Sri Lanka can raises import taxes by midnight gazette without prior notice or parliamentary approval. The levy will be in effect for six months. more..

Growing taste for Sri Lankan tea among Chinese youth triggers export boom

May 21 (EN) Chinese youth are acquiring a taste for Sri Lanka’s black tea, with shipments to China, mainly a green tea market, growing strongly this year, SL Tea Board Chairman Lucille Wijewardena said. “From nothing about 3 to 5 years ago, last year they bought 10 million plus kilos of tea,” he said. In the first quarter of this year, almost 2.8 million kilos of Ceylon tea were exported to China, up 210,300 kg or 8.2% from a yr ago. more..

PSC to investigate Easter Sunday attacks

May 21 (DM) The govt’s parliamentary group today decided to call for the appointment of a parliament select committee (PSC) to investigate the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks. The decision has been made at a meeting of the govt’s parliamentary group which was held at the parliamentary complex this afternoon. Some of the UNP MPs have informed PM Ranil Wickremesinghe that they will vote in favour of the no-confidence motion that had been brought against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. more..

Dr. Lakshman Attygalle passes away

May 21 (FT) Distinguished surgeon Dr. Lakshman Attygalle died peacefully at his residence. The funeral will take place today. Having earned his FRCS Eng in 1963 and qualified as a genito urinary (GU) surgeon in 1966, Dr. Lakshman Attygalle was, at one time, the only GU surgeon in the country. Posted as GU Surgeon to Kandy in 1968, he was appointed to Colombo General Hospital in 1972, where he served in the same capacity until retirement in 1993. more..

Any effort to extend President’s term will scupper talks, SLPP warns SLFP

May 21 (FT) SLPP yesterday warned the SLFP that any attempt to seek an extension of President Maithripala Sirisena’s term will undermine ongoing talks to form a coalition. SLPP Chairman Prof G.L. Peiris warned against the SLFP attempting to extend the term limit of President Sirisena, saying it would scupper ongoing talks between the SLPP and the SLFP to form a coalition more..

Deadline of applications for O/L 2019 extended

May 21 (AD) The deadline for submitting applications for the G.C.E. O/L Exam for the year 2019 has been extended. Accordingly, the closing date of the applications for the G.C.E. O/L 2019 is the 31st of May. Additionally, if govt-employed applicants are not able to get their applications certified by Grama Niladari Officers, they may get the certification by the head of their place of employment. Meanwhile, GCE O/L exam for the year 2019 is set to be held in Dec this year. more..

End of Sofa, Usa and Rw?

May 21 (CT) Unless the UNP and the UNP–led Govt comes up with something extraordinarily powerful to swing the pendulum their way almost immediately, one is inclined to prophesy that the writing’s on the wall for the UNP and its allies at the next presidential and general election. As though the Central Bank Bonds scam and utter failure to successfully prosecute any of the major crimes committed under cover of the former Govt’s impunity and a litany of promises not delivered upon, more..

Former DIG Nalaka de Silva granted bail

May 21 (AD) Former DIG Nalaka de Silva, who was arrested in connection with the alleged VIP assassination plot, has been granted bail by the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court. The case against the former DIG was taken up before the Colombo Fort Magistrate today (21), while a bail application filed on his behalf was taken up for consideration. De Silva, the former Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), more..

NCM against Rishad: Opposition to urge Speaker for two-day debate

May 21 (DN) PHU Leader and Joint Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpila said Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had accepted the No Confidence Motion (NCM) submitted by the JO against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and the JO intends to ask for an early date for the debate. He also said that since one day would not be enough for the debate, they intend to ask for two days to debate the motion. Responding to social media claims that the NCM against Minister Bathiudeen by the Opposition had been more..

Cashiered army lieutenant remanded for alleged extortion posing off as Madush

May 21 (Island) Kahawatte police said investigations would continue into a former officer who had allegedly extorted money from a businessman posing off as drug lord Makandure Madush, now in remand custody. 24-year-old suspect is a resident of Rajanganaya, A'pura. He had also given his wife’s address at Mount Lavinia as his place of residence. The suspect had allegedly demanded money from businessman in Gorala, Pelmadulla posing off as Madush and ordered the latter to credit funds more..

Video: State Minister Niroshan will vote against Rishard

May 21 (DM) State Minister Niroshan Perera said that he would use his vote in favour of the No-confidence motion (NCM) handed over to the Speaker by the Joint Opposition against Minister, Rishard Bathiudeen, if he does not resign from his ministerial post. He said this was not a decision of the govt but his own decision in a bid to mete out justice for the people who died and injured during the Easter Sunday attack. more..

Rush for security services after suicide bombings in Sri Lanka

May 21 (EN) Sri Lanka's private security firms are seeing a spike in demand which they cannot meet after Easter Sunday bombings but there are fears that the boom may not be sustainable, industry officials said. "We are seeing a large increase in demand of about 75%," says General Manager of LOKX Security Services, Major (retired) Surangoda De Silva. "We don't even have security surveillance equipment, we are already run out of stock," he said. The Easter Sunday bombings sent more..

video: Mahinda observes student turnout in Colombo

May 21 (AD) Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa today (21) visited several schools in Colombo to observe the student turnout and encourage parents to send their children to schools. Accordingly, he first arrived at the Thurstan College along with a group of MPs representing the Joint Opposition and also met with the principal of the school. The Opposition Leader also visited the Royal College, Visakha Vidyalaya as well as the Hindu College in Bambalapitiya. more..

JVP press conference

Democracy has no meaning if mobocracy can rob the people’s property

May 21 (FT) Property rights of people are at the foundation of any economic system, whether it is free-market, statist, or socialist. People do what they do in an economy if they can enjoy the fruits of their labour – in the parlance of economists, physical and human property they have acquired and called property rights – without the fear of it being taken away by someone against their consent. If they consent, it should be done only by paying the appropriate price agreed between them. more..

Suspect found loitering near temple at 2 am held for questioning

May 21 (Island) A person who visited a prisoner at the Malwatte Prison in Kalutara on the Vesak Poya day (18) was detained on suspicion for 72-hours for questioning, Kalutara North police said. Suspect Letchuman Manodharshan (24) is a resident of Hendala, Wattala. The police said the suspect had been found loitering close to the Jayasumanarama temple in the area around 2 a.m. and when questioned he said had come to visit his brother serving a prison term. more..

DNA report proves Zahran killed in Shangri-La blast

May 21 (DM) DNA investigations have confirmed that it was National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Mohamed Zahran Hashim - one of the two suicide bombers - who was killed in the Colombo Shangri-La hotel blast on Easter Sunday. A top officer of the Govt Analyst's Dept said the DNA investigations were carried out for several days using biological samples of the wife of Mohamed Zahran, his daughter and a sister. more..

JVP hands over no-confidence motion against govt

May 21 (AD) JVP handed over a no-confidence motion against the govt to the Speaker of the Parliament a short while ago. Speaker’s Office stated that the JVP handed over the motion to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at 10 am this morning. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake stated that the faith on the govt regarding the security of the country has been lost. The JVP has filed a motion based on several points including more..

Proposed Sharia University will not be approved: PM

May 21 (AD) Sharia universities will not be granted approval and Madrasah education institutes will be brought under the purview of Ministry of Education, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has asserted. The PM has met with the Muslim ministers and the committee appointed to look into the proposed Sharia University in Batticaloa. Accordingly, MP Ashu Marasinghe has informed the PM on the content of the report more..

Govt urged to reveal those behind Zaharan and why two bombers targeted Shangri-La

May 21 (Island) Civil society organization, Yuthukama, called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to the Easter Sunday suicide bombings. Yuthukama Convener Genvindu Cumaratunga said that the public was aware of the identities of suicide cadres and their relatives as well as the National Thowheed Jamat’s alleged links to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). But the real issue was who actually more..

UNP Parliamentary Group to meet today to decide on NCM against Bathiudeen

May 21 (FT) The UNP yesterday said the party will take a final decision at the Parliamentary Group today over the No-Confidence Motion handed over to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen by the Joint Opposition last week. MPs who back Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over the No-Confidence Motion against Bathiudeen last Thursday, alleging the Minister had links with several suspects who were more..

After Easter Sunday terror attacks, Vesak radiates waves of resilience

May 21 (ST) Though security considerations in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks have led to the cancellation of many public events during this year’s Vesak celebrations, they have not stopped the people from marking the most significant date on the Buddhist calendar in their own way. There will be no major Vesak Zones this year owing to security concerns. There are hardly any pandals or large scale Vesak lanterns, more..

'Laws needed to criminalise hate speech and regulate religious space'

May 21 (CT) Sri Lanka should immediately bring Laws to criminalise hate speech and regulate religious space to tackle terrorism. Otherwise, Sri Lanka wll become another Syria in the future, warns Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, a political analyst, widely known as an international terrorism expert. Prof. Gunaratna made this remark while delivering the keynote speech at the Forum Sri Lanka at Cross Roads: Time to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn, more..

Public debt estimated at 90% of GDP by end-2018: IMF

May 21 (ST) Public debt is estimated to have increased significantly to about 90% of GDP at end-2018, the IMF said in its latest staff report, with losses of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), particularly CEB, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and SriLankan Airlines, accounting for 1.3% of GDP. The increased debt reflected weaker economic performance and the sizable depreciation of the rupee as at the end of last year. more..

CEB engineers warn of power cuts

May 21 (Island) The CEB is left with no alternative but to impose power cuts if the prevailing weather continues, warns a top Board engineer. CEB Engineers Union President Saumya Manawadu, said that with peak demand on the rise, power cuts would be inevitable. Water levels at the Castlereigh, Mousakelle, Kotmale, Victoria, Randenigala, and Samanalawewa dams had dropped to 27% of their capacity. more..

SF confident of handling ISIS threat

May 21 (DM) Former Army Commander, the first Field Marshal and the 2010 Presidential Candidate, Sarath Fonseka airs his views on how to fight a war and battle terrorism. One of the most experienced Army Commanders in the world, Field Marshal Fonseka, describes how and why Sri Lanka failed to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks. Fonseka, who marshalled his troops to win the 26-year-old war against LTTE, in this candid interview says more..

Anti-Muslim riots and the absence of a govt

May 21 (DM) If Zaharan blew up temples, many pundits would have rationalized the massacre. Anti-Muslim riots gave them an opening and diverted the attention from the real problem. What if the Easter Sunday attacks targeted temples and people queuing at bus stands in the South? Imagine then how many of those usual culprits would have gone to town, rationalizing, and even covertly justifying it. NGO captains would have had a field day cataloguing the victimhood of Muslims, and more..

From WMDs to increased Iranian threats

May 21 (DM) Once again the US seems to be on the brink of war, creating the conditions to commence another invasion of the Middle East. The world’s leading super power is in the middle of building tensions between itself and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The enmity between Iran and the US is not new. The US is apparently still smarting from the slap in the face it received from Iran back in 1979, when it overthrew the US-puppet regime led by the then Shah of Iran, followed by more..