Sri Lanka, May 6 (AP/UNB) — Two people have been arrested and an overnight curfew lifted Monday in a Sri Lankan town where a suicide bombing targeted a Catholic church last month and weekend clashes were said to involve majority ethnic Sinhalese and Muslims.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said the situation has been brought under control. He said the violence started as a drunken, private brawl but refused to name parties involved.
The Sri Lankan government also blocked some social media sites overnight, including Facebook and WhatsApp, "in order to control the situation," the information department director Nalaka Kaluwewa said. The block was lifted early Monday.
The clash in the seaside town of Negombo is the first reported since the Easter bombings by Islamic extremists two weeks ago that killed more than 250 people.
A state of emergency has been in place since then, with warnings that more attacks are possible. Catholic churches were closed for a second weekend, and Muslims are under security surveillance and subjected to hate comments on social media.
Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in a video message circulated on social media appealed for calm.
"So far we have dealt with our problems with patience and wisdom and I ask everyone to continue in that manner," he said
Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said Sunday that several people had been injured in clashes in Negombo, where St. Sebastian's Church was targeted in the attacks carried out by bombers who had pledged support for the Islamic State group.
Ethnic clashes aren't new to Sri Lanka. A civil war between rebels from the minority Tamil community and the Buddhist Sinhalese-majority government ended in 2009.
Most of Sri Lanka's majority ethnic Sinhalese are Buddhists, but Negombo has a majority Sinhalese Catholic community.
Colombo, May 5 (AP/UNB) — Sri Lankan Catholics celebrated Sunday Mass in their homes for a second week as churches remain closed after reports of possible fresh attacks by Islamic extremists.
Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, offered a televised Mass from his residence that was attended mostly by priests and nuns.
A letter from Pope Francis addressed to him was read out at the end of the service in which the pontiff said he prayed that "hearts hardened by hatred may yield to His will for peace and reconciliation among all his children."
At St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, one of the sites targeted by Easter suicide bombings that killed 257 people, a Mass was celebrated for a small group of children and youth as a means for inner healing.
The Rev. Prasad Harshana said before the Mass that prayers will be offered not only the victims of violence, survivors, Catholics and the country as a whole but also for "those suicide bombers and all those people who are involved in it."
"Because they are also misled by the evil one, we need to pray for the conversion of those people, we pray for the conversion of the hearts of the terrorists, whoever they may be. "
"That is our faith ... we love them all," said Harshana.
The coordinated bombings that targeted three churches and three luxury hotels were carried out by an Islamic State-linked group of Sri Lankan nationals.
Almost all churches remained closed with armed soldiers and police guarding them. Authorities canceled Sunday services after reports emerged that a Catholic church and lay institution could be targeted this weekend.
Catholic schools have also been closed until further notice.
However, all government schools are to reopen Monday for grade 6 and up. Police have announced they will search the premises of all schools Sunday.
Bangkok, May 5 (AP/UNB) — Thailand's newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Sunday performed the second day of coronation activities, granting new titles to members of the royal family in front of an audience of dignitaries including top government officials and senior Buddhist monks.
On Saturday, Vajiralongkorn took part in an elaborate set of rituals, a mix of Buddhist and Hindu Brahmanic traditions, which established his status as a full-fledged monarch with complete regal powers.
Vajiralongkorn — also known as King Rama X, the 10th king of the Chakri dynasty — had already been serving as king since the October 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was on the throne for seven decades.
The 66-year-old monarch began Sunday morning's event in a hall at Bangkok's Grand Palace by paying respects in front of portraits of his late father and his mother, who has been hospitalized for an extended period. The 86-year-old mother, known as Queen Sirikit, was granted a new official title of Queen Mother.
Vajiralongkorn's son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, was one of the family members granted a fresh name for the new reign. He turned 14 on April 29 and is the heir presumptive.
While Saturday's ceremonies were solemn and heavily tinged with age-old rites, including the prominent presence of Brahmin priests, Sunday's event was slightly more relaxed, though also steeped with traditional royal and Buddhist gestures.
The live television coverage of the event showed some glimpses of informality: the king's wife, who was granted the title Queen Suthida last week, exchanging a brief aside with Vajiralongkorn; two of his daughters in a warm hug after the second one returned from receiving her new title.
The king wore his normal modern royal uniform with a white tunic, a strong contrast with the traditional vestments with gold embroidery that he wore the previous day. During the final portion of Saturday's coronation, he also wore the "Great Crown of Victory," said to date from 1782. The crown is 66 centimeters (26 inches) high, weighs 7.3 kilograms (16 pounds) and is ornamented with diamonds set in gold enamel.
Duangkamol Siriwiwattanakul said she traveled from the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon, 542 kilometer (337 miles) northeast of Bangkok, to watch the royal events on a video screen set up outside the palace.
"I am very happy and feeling goosebumps," she said, gripping a portrait of her monarch. "Every time I see the king, my tears come out."
Later Sunday, there will be a 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) royal procession in which the king will be carried on an elaborate palanquin through nearby city streets to visit four important temples and allow the public to pay homage to him.
Monday will see the king greet the public from the balcony of the Grand Palace in the late afternoon and then hold a reception for the diplomatic corps.
Dhaka, May 4 (UNB) - In a security breach, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was slapped by a man on Saturday during his roadshow in Moti Nagar area for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, with AAP calling it an “Opposition-sponsored attack”, reports The Indian Express.
The incident happened when Kejriwal was waving to the people who had gathered during his roadshow. A man, wearing a maroon-coloured shirt, climbed on his car and slapped him on his face.
Calling it another “negligence” in the security of the chief minister, AAP said the “Opposition-sponsored attack” won’t be able to stop the party in Delhi.
“Another negligence in the security of CM Arvind Kejriwal. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal got attacked during the roadshow. We condemned this cowardly act. This opposition sponsored attack cannot stop the Aam Aadmi in Delhi,” AAP tweeted.
As a chief minister, Kejriwal enjoys Z-plus security with 25 policemen guarding him round-the-clock.
Police said the man had been taken into custody and an investigation into the matter was underway. PTI quoted DCP (West) Monika Bhardwaj as saying that the man had been identified as Suresh (33), who deals in spare parts at Kailash Park.
Gaza City, May 4 (AP/UNB) — Four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed in an Israeli airstrike and protests Friday as gunshots from the Gaza Strip wounded two Israeli soldiers, officials said, in a new flare-up that shattered a monthlong easing of hostilities that was mediated by Egypt.
The calm along the Gaza-Israel frontier was in exchange for Israel's scaling back restrictions on the territory. However, Gaza's Hamas rulers accused Israel of not honoring the deal.
Leaders from the Islamic militant group were in Egypt on Friday for further talks. Cairo has hoped negotiations could lead to a long-term cease-fire.
The Israeli army said the soldiers who were shot were moderately and lightly wounded, respectively. Israeli aircraft hit a Hamas militant site in response, killing two Hamas gunmen and wounding three others, Gaza's health ministry and Hamas' armed wing said.
The escalation in violence came as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along Gaza's perimeter fence with Israel on Friday.
The health ministry said a 19-year-old Palestinian protester died shortly after he was injured in southern Gaza Strip. Early Saturday, the ministry added that second demonstrator aged 31 had succumbed to his wounds. More than 50 Palestinians suffered various injuries during protests at several sections of the frontier.
Hamas has hoped that Egyptian mediators could alleviate the blockade that Israel and Egypt imposed after it violently seized full control of Gaza in 2007 from the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
More than 200 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed in the border protests that Hamas has led since March last year.
Last month, Israel allowed Gaza fishermen to sail up to 15 nautical miles off the enclave's coast, but retracted the decision this week, scaling it down to the longtime previous limit of nine miles after rockets were fired from Gaza.
Hamas also says Israel delayed the transfer of Qatari money for cash-strapped public institutions in the territory of 2 million people and did not take more measures to ease the grinding power shortage in Gaza.