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tv   BBC News  BBC News  April 21, 2019 4:00pm-4:30pm BST

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this is bbc news. the headlines at apm. more than 200 people have died after a series of explosions at churches and hotels in sri lanka, 27 foreign nationals were among the dead. within the last few minutes it has emerged that up to five britons are dead. three police officers were killed during a raid on a house, and authorities say seven people have been arrested in connection with the attacks. authorities say most of the explosions were suicide blasts, it not yet clear who is responsible for the attacks. more than 830 people who were protesting in london about climate change have been arrested by police, 42 have been charged. police in west yorkshire have arrested a number of people in connection with fires burning on ilkley moor. dozens of firefighters
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are still dealing with the blaze, which covers six acres. the queen has attended an easter service at windsor castle on the day she celebrates her 93rd birthday, she was joined by family members including the duke and duchess of cambridge. good afternoon. more than 200 people have been killed and a50 injured in explosions after a series of explosions at churches and hotels in sri lanka. dozens died in blasts during easter services at churches in negumbo and the eastern city of batticaloa in colombo, worshippers were targeted at st anthony shrine and two other churches. in the last few minutes the foreign industry has confirmed that three people from the uk and two others holding dual nationality have been
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killed. three of the city's major hotels were also hit — the kingsbury, the cinnamon grand and the shangri la. a short time later there were explosions at another smaller hotel and a private house. 0ur south asia correspondent rajini vaidya nathan reports. they came here to pray, on one of the most sacred days of the year. butjust before nine in the morning, the sanctity of their easter service was shattered. as a violent bomb blast ripped through the historic st anthony's shrine in colombo, worshippers scrambled to escape. translation: i heard the explosion and then the roof fell on us. we took the children and ran out from the rear door. but when i came to the hospital, i saw my brother—in—law,
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and son on the ground. at almost the same time, two other churches in the area were also hit by deadly explosions. leaders speaking on behalf of the country's christian minority called for peace and harmony in the wake of these attacks. i would like to call upon all, to pray, that all those who are injured may be healed soon, and that all these families who have lost someone may be consoled. i condemn, with my, to the utmost of my capacity this act that has caused so much death and suffering to the people. and it wasn'tjust churches. bombs also exploded at three hotels popular with tourists. a number of foreigners are among the dead. the british high commission in sri lanka said some uk tourists have been caught up in the blast — it is unclear to what extent right now. outside the shangri—la hotel,
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the scene of one of the explosions, investigators are surveying the damage. an eyewitness who was staying on the 25th floor told the bbc what happened. we heard two loud bangs and the entire room was shaking. i could see that a lot of guests are being taken to hospitals. there were casualties, the hotel staff and guests. as grieving relatives waited for updates, two further blasts were reported. the sheer scale of these attacks suggest they were co—ordinated. translation: this is a serious situation, aimed at destabilising the country and the economy. i strongly condemn this attack aimed at religious institutions and some hotels in the capital. the island of sri lanka is on a state of high alert. next month marks ten years since the country's civil war ended.
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today's blasts are the worst this country has seen for more than a decade. rajini vaidyanathan, bbc news, delhi. let mejust remind let me just remind you of the news in the last few minutes from the foreign ministry in sri lanka and it is confirmation of the nationality of some of those killed in the explosions today. the foreign ministry says that three of them we re ministry says that three of them were british citizens, holders of british passports, and two others held deal us— uk citizenships. we will get more details once families have been contacted and informed of the news. the turkish state media news reporting one of the victims was from turkey and the foreign minister of the netherlands confirmed one of the victims was dutch. the bbc‘s azzam ameen is at the scene of one of the attacks in colombo.
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so far, seven suspects have been arrested. they say they believe most of these were suicide bomb attacks and they say one group is behind it but they didn't name but said that is what they are suspecting. a police curfew has been imposed after the latest attack. eight attacks took place. there will be a full countrywide curfew and they will ask the public to remain inside their houses, don't come out, because the situation was panicking and there were a lot of rumours about more attacks. social media, especially facebook and whatsapp have been restricted to stop information from spreading.
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he is the bbc correspondent in the city and was just giving us an impression on what happened here this morning on the latest in lunchtime. the middle of the evening now in sri lanka, they are five and a half hours ahead timewise so the cu rfew a half hours ahead timewise so the curfew is well in place and there has been thankfully no further news of violence in any place. what is now happening as both the clear up operation and the attempts to improve security for public buildings and giving help to all those injured and the families of those injured and the families of those who have dry. i've been speaking to the high commissioner for sri lanka to the uk, manisha gunasekera, about the attacks. i think the scale of it is unprecedented. it is multiple attacks in different places so it could be a group or groups with tremendous capacity to carry it out at this level of precision. certainly we cannot speculate at
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this point, we also don't know whether the suspects, those who have been arrested, our sri lankan nationals or anybody else, and what links they may have, this group may have, we have no such information so cannot speculate. the scale of it is unprecedented. the government had no prior knowledge of specific attacks oi’ prior knowledge of specific attacks or violent activity planned by any groups? nothing that alerted the government or the authorities that it was coming? i cannot at this moment speculate on the intelligence information that the government may oi’ information that the government may or may not have been privy to. i can say with responsibility that these types of incidents were not expected. it has come completely as a shock to everyone in sri lanka especially because easter sunday is a celebration not only for the catholic and christian community for
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all sri lankans and it is a public holiday and all sri lankans come together in a celebration because it comes in conjunction with the new year which we have just celebrated and the christian and catholic communities belong to both ethnicities. this is all communities, all communities coming together and joining to celebrate this. the civil war raged for 30 yea rs this. the civil war raged for 30 years but it has been a long time since sri lanka has had to deal with violence on this scale. this year we will be marking ten years since the end of the conflict. sri lanka is a country which suffered greatly with the protracted conflict related to terrorism. they have been very resilient. sri lankans were in the process of consolidating peace and taking forward a reconciliation process when this happened. i have to again say that we are in shock andi to again say that we are in shock and i think the government's reaction is very measured and
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careful. i must say that having gone through a difficult period for 30 yea rs, nearly through a difficult period for 30 years, nearly 30 years, i think the sri lankan government has the capacity to deal with these kinds of incidents in a very professional manner so incidents in a very professional manner so i hope that with the support of the international community we will be able to address this. alan keenan — sri lanka project directorfor the international crisis group — joins me now. he has been travelling to sri lanka for the last 20 years and spending a lot of time there. first of all, just how unexpected are attacks of this kind in sri lanka these days? many have said it before today but i think this is unprecedented, the level of carnage and coordination in multiple attacks, even in the worst days of the war with the tamil tigers, whose terrorism is one of the forms of pressure on the government, there was never anything like this. there were big explosions
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but it would be one, not eight across the country, so it is quite worrying and devastating. to my questions arise, the first with the anniversary coming up of the end of the civil war ten years ago next month, would there be any thought that there could be a connection with that? would that be one of the areas that the authorities would investigate? i don't think so. you never know. i think we all have to hold back from speculating too much but i don't see any obvious links. because for instance, those targeted, many of those killed were tamilso it is targeted, many of those killed were tamil so it is unlikely to be a tunnel group behind it, but in other ways it seems to me, it may not be so ways it seems to me, it may not be so much about sri lankan dynamics. it is important to point out there have been post—war, there have been ongoing attacks against evangelical
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christians. that has been going since the late 1990s, by groups of buddhists who feel that their religion and culture is undermined by evangelicals coming in. 0ften they argue converting through unethical means they are people. that has been there but never been on the scale of massive bombings. it has been church fires and attacks on local pastors and low level but nasty stuff. the muslim community has also come under intense pressure since 2012 again by many of the same groups attacking evangelicals who feel that buddhism is under threat not by christians but by muslims. the point to make is that it is a predominantly buddhist country and muslims and christians are a minority but sri lanka's reputation is asa minority but sri lanka's reputation is as a relatively tolerant place? it isa is as a relatively tolerant place? it is a land of contradictions with an incredibly violent ethnic war for 26 years which was not religious even though the main communities we re even though the main communities were of different religions. but it
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wasn't a religious war. it was a war about ethnicity and the sharing of resources and power sharing, but in many ways, sri lanka is still a very tolera nt many ways, sri lanka is still a very tolerant community or nation. so this level of hatred is quite of the charts. i am reluctant to use the word sophisticated but it is fair to say it is very well organised the attack, and given the kind of geographic scale as well, presumably that would point to something planned well in advance. that on the face of it would seem to be the case, and there are no groups that anyone knows about in sri lanka that have this capacity. 0ther anyone knows about in sri lanka that have this capacity. other than possible links to disgruntled, i won't even speculate, but there is no obvious... whether tamil or muslim or buddhist. never a claim of
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responsibility. that doesn't necessarily mean that a person or group is responsible but there has been nothing. let me ask you about something else. sri lanka has ten yea rs of something else. sri lanka has ten years of relative calm. politics can be quite combative to say the least, we had the effort last year by the prime minister, the president to remove the prime minister until the supreme court intervened and slapped it down. that got very intense. is there a risk that the politics is such that an incident like this could cause some kind of overreaction? i think the risk is almost certain unfortunately. this incident will be politicised. inevitably in any country something on this scale of horror and shock will be put to work for different narratives. i think there is a strong discourse from the political opposition, the party aligned with the former president and his brother, who himself would like to
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become president. that constituency is already saying that this government is weak on security, not nationalist enough, too soft on the issues that you need to be hard about and to write friendly or not security conscious enough, so i think that camp is likely to seize on this as others with in other countries and say this as evidence, you need is to come back into power. we ended the war and we dealt with the terrorism and will deal with whoever‘s terrorism the size. that same government was quite soft on terror against muslims by buddhist groups, so it is a very complicated political terrain but i think, for me, the essential issue, working for an organisation is conflict prevention and litigation is for all those with any power or influence the caution caution, to insist that no communities be targeted for this
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violence, that individuals involved and any groups involved in this violence, whoever turns out to be, need to be dealt with, but communities, whether buddhist, muslim or christian, whoever it is alleged to be responsible for this, that communities themselves are not blamed. and there is no kind of retaliation in a false attempt to blame a scapegoat. 0ne brief final question. does sri lanka have the kind of international contacts in terms of intelligence and security that will allow them to draw knowledge elsewhere in the world if this has an international aspect and turns out to be something beyond sri lanka? i think so. turns out to be something beyond sri lanka? ithink so. during turns out to be something beyond sri lanka? i think so. during the war, the intelligence and national security apparatus worked closely with every powerful world country, russia, china and america, the eu, so they are fully equipped and networked into the sort of global intelligence apparatus. they have no problem getting whatever support they need if that is the avenue they
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need to travel. thank you. the foreign office have put out some advice —— if you are worried about british friends orfamily in sri lanka caught up in the incidents, please call the foreign office switchboard number: 020 70081500. the pope has condemned the attacks in sri lanka describing them as a ‘cruel act of violence'. speaking at his annual easter day address at the vatican, pope francis said he stands by the victims of the attacks saying that christians have been hit by'mourning and pain'. 0ur rome correspondent james reynolds reports. days after one catholic monument in europe was badly damaged by fire, attention turned to another of the church's most iconic structures, st peter's basilica here in rome. under grey skies, worshippers, pilgrims and tourists gathered in the square. the pope celebrated easter mass.
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he called for peace in conflicts in the middle east, africa, and latin america. from the basilica's main balcony he offered prayers for the victims in sri lanka. translation: i heard of the serious attacks in sri lanka today with great pain and sadness, that on easter sunday have brought mourning and suffering. i would like to express my closeness and affection to the christian community, struck while gathered in prayer and to all the victims of the cruel violence. the archbishop of canterburyjustin welby this morning leading a service in canterbury cathedral called on people to stand with sri lanka in prayer, condolence and solidarity. the will to power leads to the murder of innocents in sri lanka. the utterly despicable destruction, that on this holiest of days, seeks to challenge the reality of the risen christ. the queen, today celebrating her 93rd birthday, led the royal family
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to an easter service at saint george's chapel in windsor. and in paris, catholic worshippers who would normally go to notre dame for easter gathered instead at the nearby church, st eustache, a stand—in cathedral. until notre—dame itself is rebuilt. james reynolds, bbc news, rome. the headlines on bbc news. at least 200 people have been killed in sri lanka after eight explosions at hotels, and churches during easter services. 27 foreign nationals are believed to have been killed, police have arrested seven people in connection with the attacks. the queen has attended an easter service at windsor castle on her 93rd birthday. a crowd sang "happy birthday"
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as she left st george's chapel. sport and for a full round up, from the bbc sport centre, here's karthi. good afternoon. manchester united have had a day their fans will want to forget quickly after they were completely outclassed by everton who claimed a 4—0 win at goodison park. the home side were 2—0 up inside half an hour and then lucas digne made it three in the second half. theo walcott rounded off the scoring less than ten minutes later as united lose for the sixth time in eight games and they are real danger of not finishing in the top four this season. i think everyone here hands on heart that it is nowhere near good enough, not what the
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manchester united team, and we know that and are going to hold their hands up and apologise again to the fans. we promise that you are going to come out on wednesday and do what we can to give them a performance. two other games in the premier league this afternoon. they kicked off about 20 minutes ago. a crucial one at the top and the bottom of the table as cardiff host liverpool. still goalless at the moment. crystal palace have just taken the lead against arsenal. celtic need just four more points from their four remaining scottish premiership games to clinch another league title, that's after being held to a goalless draw at hibernian this afternoon. because of rangers' win yesterday, celtic couldn't clinch the title this weekend, but they missed the chance to restore their 11 point cushion mainly thanks to two brilliant saves in stoppage time from the hibs keeper 0fir marcian. neil lennon's side still have a nine point lead over their glasgow rivals at the top as they look for an eighth straight league title.
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and arsenal need just one more win to take the women's super league title after a 2—1win over everton. dutch forward vivianne miedema scored arsenal's second, that's her 30th goal in all competitions this season. arsenal will win the title if they beat brighton next weekend, they are now four points clear at the top of the table. and chelsea are in champions league semi—final action this afternoon. it's a really tough tie for emma hayes side, they're playing lyon who have won the competiton for each of the last three seasons. 21 minutes gone and it is 0—0 at the moment, chelsea defending well. on the red button if you want to watch that game. amir khan says his boxing career isn't over, after he lost his world title fight against terence crawford in new york earlier this morning. khan was outclassed by the wbo welterweight champion, and was knocked down in the first round at madison square garden. he made it to the sixth round but then was caught by a very low blow, an accidental shot below
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the belt from crawford. khan was pulled over by his corner, but was in so much pain that he couldn't continue. he denied quitting and said he "couldn't think straight". crawford had won every round to that point and remains unbeaten. i have never quite throw menacing. i would rather be knocked out. i rather honestly would be knocked out. it isjust not in me to quit. hit with a low shot, i could have re cove red hit with a low shot, i could have recovered from it. that is the reason the fight was called off. i tried to continue but it was getting worse and obviously, in the corner they called it off and we just chose to. the first round of the world snooker championships continue in sheffield this
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afternoon, and the 2005 champion shaun murphy is currently in action. he's playing china's luo honghao, the score is 4—0. 0n the other table england's gary wilson is playing luca brecel from belgium, the score is 7—6 to brecel. live coverage right now on bbc two. great britain are back in the lead in their fed cup tie with kazakhstan. it's thanks to johanna konta's impressive win over yulia putintseva in her second rubber. she had trailed by four games to one in the final set, but fought back to win. great britain will win the tie if katie boulter wins her rubber against zarina diyas. we will keep an eye on that and plenty more for you later. the bbc sport website has updates on everything for you now.
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police say they've now arrested more than 830 people protesting in london over climate change. the protest organised by group extinction rebellion is now in its seventh day. hundreds of extra officers have been drafted in to monitor protestors on waterloo bridge, parliament square, and the main demonstration site in oxford circus — which has now been cleared. simonjones is at marble arch, the officially designated protest site for the group. simon, how many protesters are still down there because i walked past 0xford down there because i walked past oxford circus earlier and it was com pletely oxford circus earlier and it was completely deserted apart from a few police officers and shoppers with traffic running through justice would have been before the protest began. oxford circus has now been cleared. that was yesterday afternoon. quite a lot of high spirits this afternoon. a lot of people have come down and just to give you an idea the police pretty
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low profile taking photos with the tourist today and a lot of people milling around and seeing what is going on and then that direction where they have been camped for the last seven days. but there has been some confusion about what future form these protests are going to ta ke form these protests are going to take because earlier today a document was seen take because earlier today a document was seen by the bbc, an internal document from one of the organisers suggesting that the direct action, the disruption that has been caused so far was going to be scaled back after this first week and in week two was going to shift more to political action, so talk of trying to get discussions with the mayor of london and also the met police. the protest are seeing what they wanted to do was move away from this site but put all the protesters at westminster so talk that maybe this could be coming to an end in its current form but since that internal document was seen earlier a
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number of other organisers have clarified that as far as they are concerned this is premature and nothing has been agreed by the hierarchy at present. they are talking to everybody around about what people want to do in future, so it seems that the moment that the protests are going to carry on. this of course the designated site but other sites declared illegal by the police and police trying to get eve ryo ne police and police trying to get everyone down to the site on the way through westminster and away from waterloo bridge, which has been causing disruption over the last seven days. hopefully surviving the hecklers. thank you. details of the funeral for the journalist lyra mckee, who was shot in londonderry on thursday have been announced. her partner, sara canning has posted on facebook that the funeral will take place this coming wednesday in belfast. the 29—year—old journalist was killed as she observed rioting in the creggan estate. a helicopter‘s been brought in to help fight a large fire which is continuing to burn on ilkley moor in west yorkshire. more than 12 appliances are still at the scene,
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and people are being advised to stay away from the area. police say they've arrested several people in connection with the fire. earlier our correspondent 0livia richwald spoke to us from the scene. it isa it is a lovely afternoon but not much fun for the firefighters who have been spending hours trying to get this under control. how are they doing? that is right, i havejust had an update from the fire commanderjust had an update from the fire commander just behind me had an update from the fire commanderjust behind me and he said it has been a much harder day than expected because not only are they getting the heat from the sun and i can tell you it is very hot, but also heat from the ground and it has been a very difficult day. we have just had a change of shift but there are still 60 firefighters here. the fla mes are still 60 firefighters here. the fla m es have are still 60 firefighters here. the flames have been put out this morning but all day there has been billowing smoke coming from the more land because it has burned off the top and gone slightly underneath so all day they have been dampening down with the wildfire units and
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every five minutes a helicopter has been flying over with buckets of water from a local reservoir. they arejust water from a local reservoir. they are just trying to stop the fire from reigniting in the hot temperatures but it has been a very difficult day. the update ijust got was they are expecting to continue with the firefighting operation until night falls and then just a watching brief because they cannot really fight the flames when they cannot see what they are doing so they will be watching over night to make sure the fire doesn't start again but will probably be back here tomorrow. is concerned this might have been arson? it is hard to say at this stage but the police have made several arrests and i have been speaking to local residents who say if it turns out to be suspicious, if people have started this play is, they are very angry and upset because 0akley more as a very popular place for people across western north yorkshire and hundreds of thousands come here to walk and enjoy the scenery. ilkley moor is a
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stunning place with lots of wildlife and the people here love it and if it turns out to have been deliberately started they will be very angry and upset. in the meantime, before being asked to stay away from the firefighting operation and let the firefighters do their job. thank you. the queen has attended an easter service at windsor castle on the day she celebrates her 93rd birthday. she was joined by family members including the duke and duchess of cambridge and the duke of sussex. the duke of edinburgh, who has retired from public duties, and the duchess of sussex, who is expecting a baby, did not attend. here's what happened when her majesty left the chapel. crowd sings happy birthday


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