India election 2019: Narendra Modi votes in Ahmedabad

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cast his vote in his home state of Gujarat in the third phase of the country’s general election.

Mr Modi voted in Ahmedabad’s Ranip seat

He led what appeared to be a roadshow on his way to the polling booth in Ahmedabad, the city he lived in during his 13 years as chief minister.

He waved at the crowds that had gathered from an open-top jeep, which had replaced his usual bulletproof car.

Mr Modi is contesting from Varanasi, which goes to the polls on 19 May.

Around 180 million people are eligible to vote on Tuesday – 115 seats spread across 14 states and union territories are up for grabs. It is the largest stage of the whole election, which is being seen as a referendum on Mr Modi, who has been in power since 2014.

It’s also important for Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as Gujarat is his home state and where his political career began. Mr Modi won his first parliamentary seat from Vadodadara in Gujarat in 2014 – but he vacated it as he also contested and won Varanasi.

On Tuesday morning, Mr Modi first travelled to the capital city of Gandhinagar to meet his mother before going to Ahmedabad to vote.

After voting in the seat of Ranip, he walked down the street along with a local BJP candidate. He was surrounded by his bodyguards as he displayed his inked finger and waved at people.

Here’s everything else you need to know about Tuesday’s vote.

Rahul Gandhi faces a crucial (first) ballot

India’s main opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, is appearing on the ballot in Wayanad in the southern state of Kerala for the first time.

A win here is important to the Congress party, but Mr Gandhi is also standing in Amethi, his long-time constituency in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. He will be on the ballot there on 6 May and if he wins both seats, he will vacate one of them.

Supporters of Congress Party waits for Party President, Rahul Gandhi as he will arrive to file his nomination from Amethi Constituency, in Uttar Pradesh.
Image captionMr Gandhi’s supporters in Amethi, his family stronghold.

The Wayanad seat is considered “safe” for Congress: the party has won the two elections held there since the seat’s creation in 2009.

But Amethi is Mr Gandhi’s family stronghold. He has been an MP for the region since 2004 and his mother, father and uncle have all won it during their careers.

So his decision to stand in Wayanad – a lush, hilly area in the Western Ghats – was met with surprise. Congress has said it is a “message to southern states that they are deeply valued and respected”.

But opponents wondered aloud if this meant Mr Gandhi is unsure of winning Amethi. After all, his margin of victory in 2014 – a little over 100,000 votes – was seen as too close.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi wave at the crowd in the road show after Rahul Gandhi filing nominations from Wayanad district on April 4, 2019 in Kalpetta town in Wayanand
Rahul Gandhi is contesting from southern India for the first time

All of Gujarat is voting today

Mr Modi may not be on the ballot but there is still a lot interest in various seats – including Gandhinagar, where party president Amit Shah is contesting.

Among those hoping to unseat him is Vejli Rathod, a Dalit (formerly untouchable) man who says he is still waiting for charges to be brought following his son’s death in a police shooting back in 2012.

Fed up, he decided to run against Mr Shah, one of India’s most powerful politicians.

“Victory may come and go, but I am fighting against Amit Shah for justice,” Mr Rathod told BBC Gujarati.

Indian supporters of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), with one wearing a mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, take a selfie
Image captionThis election is largely seen as a referendum on Mr Modi

Election-watchers are also likely to take an interest in Congress’s 37-year-old Sherkhan Pathan, the state’s only Muslim candidate.

Muslims account for around 9% of the state’s population, but Gujarat has not elected a Muslim MP since 1984. Only three of the five Muslim candidates who contested state polls in December won.

However, Mr Pathan argues that it isn’t his religion which won him his place on the ballot.

“I’ve been chosen to run because I’m young and represent a wide variety of voters here – not because I’m Muslim,” Mr Pathan told BBC Gujarati.

Will Sabarimala matter in Kerala’s vote?

In September 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a historic ban on women entering a prominent Hindu shrine, Sabarimala – and this sparked huge protests across Kerala.

So his decision to stand in Wayanad – a lush, hilly area in the Western Ghats – was met with surprise. Congress has said it is a “message to southern states that they are deeply valued and respected”.

But opponents wondered aloud if this meant Mr Gandhi is unsure of winning Amethi. After all, his margin of victory in 2014 – a little over 100,000 votes – was seen as too close.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi wave at the crowd in the road show after Rahul Gandhi filing nominations from Wayanad district on April 4, 2019 in Kalpetta town in Wayanand
Rahul Gandhi is contesting from southern India for the first time

All of Gujarat is voting today

Mr Modi may not be on the ballot but there is still a lot interest in various seats – including Gandhinagar, where party president Amit Shah is contesting.

Among those hoping to unseat him is Vejli Rathod, a Dalit (formerly untouchable) man who says he is still waiting for charges to be brought following his son’s death in a police shooting back in 2012.

Fed up, he decided to run against Mr Shah, one of India’s most powerful politicians.

“Victory may come and go, but I am fighting against Amit Shah for justice,” Mr Rathod told BBC Gujarati.

Indian supporters of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), with one wearing a mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, take a selfie
This election is largely seen as a referendum on Mr Modi

Election-watchers are also likely to take an interest in Congress’s 37-year-old Sherkhan Pathan, the state’s only Muslim candidate.

Muslims account for around 9% of the state’s population, but Gujarat has not elected a Muslim MP since 1984. Only three of the five Muslim candidates who contested state polls in December won.

However, Mr Pathan argues that it isn’t his religion which won him his place on the ballot.

“I’ve been chosen to run because I’m young and represent a wide variety of voters here – not because I’m Muslim,” Mr Pathan told BBC Gujarati.

Will Sabarimala matter in Kerala’s vote?

In September 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a historic ban on women entering a prominent Hindu shrine, Sabarimala – and this sparked huge protests across Kerala.

The BJP, which argued that the ruling was an attack on Hindu values, was accused of exploiting the issue to court its mostly-Hindu support base.

The party has been trying to make inroads in the state for some time now but it has never won a seat in Kerala. This time its contesting 14 of the 20 parliamentary seats. The rest have been left to regional allies.

What are the key issues in this election?

The economy and jobs are perhaps the two biggest issues.

The government has invested heavily in infrastructure, but it hasn’t produced the desired economic boost – annual GDP growth has hovered at about 7%.

The farming sector has stagnated and a leaked government report suggests that the unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the 1970s

In fact, Mr Modi’s government has been accused of hiding uncomfortable jobs data.

A crowd waits to get their names registered at Lal Bagh Employment Office on March 13, 2012 in Lucknow, India.
Joblessness is a major issue as the number of unemployed graduates swells

Meanwhile, national security has been thrust to the fore following a deadly suicide attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-administered Kashmir in February.

Since then, the BJP has made national security a key plank in its campaign.

For some, this election is also a battle for India’s identity and the state of its minorities, while for others it’s about enhancing India’s position in the world.

Mr Modi is a polarising figure, adored by many but also blamed for the country’s divisions. Many accuse the BJP and its strident Hindu nationalism of encouraging violence against minorities, including the lynchings of Muslims suspected of smuggling cows.

Presentational grey line
Facts and figures about the world’s biggest democratic exercise

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg dies aged 98

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg has died at the age of 98, his son Henri has said in a statement.

Grand Duke Jean abdicated in favour of his son Henri in 2000

He had recently been admitted to hospital suffering from a pulmonary infection, and passed away surrounded by his family, the statement said.

Grand Duke Jean abdicated in favour of his son Henri in 2000, after nearly 36 years on the throne.

During his reign, he oversaw the transformation of the Grand Duchy into an international financial centre.

Grand Duke Henri announced the death of his father in a statement on Tuesday, saying: “It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my beloved father, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean, who has passed away in peace, surrounded by the affection of his family.”

Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano was born on 5 January 1921, the eldest child of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix.

A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he took part in the D-Day landings, and the liberation of Luxembourg from Nazi Germany.

He married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium in 1953, and together they had five children.

During his reign, Luxembourg turned itself from an industrial backwater into a centre for financial services and satellite communications.

Map of Luxembourg

Grand Duke Jean’s decision to step down at the age of 79 followed a precedent set by his mother, who abdicated in 1964.

The head of state’s constitutional role is largely ceremonial, and in 2008 parliament further restricted it by rescinding the monarch’s right to veto legislation.

With about half a million inhabitants, Luxembourg is not only one of the smallest states in the European Union, but also the wealthiest in terms of per capita gross domestic product.

President Donald Trump: ‘set for June state visit to UK’

Buckingham Palace is expected to announce on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump will make a state visit to the UK in early June.

The president was promised the visit by Prime Minister Theresa May after he was elected in 2016 – but no date was set.

Downing Street did not comment on the matter when contacted by the BBC.

President Trump and the first lady, Melania, visited the UK in July 2018 for a two-day working visit.

During the 2018 trip, the president met Mrs May at Chequers and the Queen at Windsor Castle before heading to Scotland, where he owns the Turnberry golf course.

The president’s last trip to the UK was marked by demonstrations around the UK.

In London, thousands of protestors took to the streets to voice their concerns about the visit.

And in Scotland, people showed their displeasure both in Edinburgh and at Turnberry.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council estimated that the police operation for the president’s 2018 visit cost nearly £18m.

It said 10,000 officers from across the country were needed to cover the occasion.


What is a state visit?

Queen Elizabeth II and US President Barack Obama during a State Banquet in Buckingham Palace on 24 May 2011
The Queen welcomed President Barack Obama to Buckingham Palace in 2011

A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state and is normally at the invitation of the Queen, who acts on advice from the government.

State visits are grand occasions, but they are not just ceremonial affairs. They have political purpose and are used by the government of the day to further what it sees as Britain’s national interests.

Once the location and dates are confirmed, the government, the visiting government and the royal household will agree on a detailed schedule.

So what is involved?

The Queen acts as the official host for the duration of the trip, and visitors usually stay at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

There is usually a state banquet, and a visit to – and speeches at – the Houses of Parliament may be included. The Speaker of the House of Commons is one of three “key holders” to Westminster Hall, and as such, effectively holds a veto over who addresses Parliament.

The Queen usually receives one or two heads of state a year. She has hosted 109 state visits since becoming monarch in 1952.

The official website of the Queen and the Royal Family has a full list of all state visits since then, including details of how the ceremonies unfold.

SS Iron Crown: WW2 shipwreck found off Australia

The SS Iron Crown was sunk by a torpedo in World War Two

The wreck of an Australian ship sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War Two has been found after 77 years, officials say.

The SS Iron Crown, a naval freight ship, was hit by a torpedo off the state of Victoria in 1942, killing 38 people. Its five remaining crew members survived.

The ship sank within 60 seconds of the attack in Bass Strait.

Maritime archaeologists called the find “an event of national significance”.

A search team from the Australian National Maritime Museum located the shipwreck about 100km (60 miles) off Victoria.

Measuring about 100m (330ft) long, the ship was found upright and “relatively intact” about 700m below the ocean surface, officials said. Its bow, railings and anchors were also found in place.

Underwater stills show the ship's intact bow, anchors and anchor chains
The ship’s bow and anchors were found intact

The team used sonar devices and a drop camera to scour the seabed and map the site.

Peter Harvey, a maritime archaeologist for Heritage Victoria, said it was the only ship to have been sunk by a torpedo in the state’s waters.

It had been transporting ore from South Australia to New South Wales when it was attacked. The five survivors were rescued from the water by another ship.

“Locating the wreck after 77 years of not knowing its final resting place will bring closure for relatives and family of those that were lost at sea,” Mr Harvey said.

Its oldest surviving crew member died in 2012. George Fisher told historians in 2003 that the attack had been “one of the saddest” events of his life, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The wreck’s exact whereabouts have not been revealed in order to protect the site.

Authorities said they planned to hold a memorial service there.

Greta Thunberg: Teen tells UK politicians ‘listen to climate scientists’

Greta Thunberg sparked an international movement fighting against climate change

A teenage climate change activist has urged British politicians to “listen to the scientists” on climate change.

Greta Thunberg, 16, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she did not expect to change their minds single-handedly, saying: “We need to do that together.”

The Swedish teenager, who inspired the school climate strikes movement, is expected to meet party leaders later.

She also praised the work of Extinction Rebellion, as climate change protests continued into their second week.

Miss Thunberg said her message for politicians was: “Listen to the science, listen to the scientists. Invite them to talk.

I am just speaking on behalf of them, I’m trying to say what they’ve been saying for decades,” she said.

‘Non-violent disruption’

The teenager sparked an international youth movement after she staged a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament in August last year.

Since then she has met Pope Francis and addressed the European Parliament. Speaking about her newfound fame, she said: “It’s unbelievable, I can’t really take it in.”

The interview comes as Extinction Rebellion activists took over part of the Natural History Museum on Monday.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began in central London a week ago.

Miss Thunberg, who spoke to the crowds in Marble Arch on Sunday, told the BBC that disruptive action “definitely has a lot of impact”.

Asked whether it was necessary, she said: “As long as it’s non-violent, I think that could definitely make a difference.”

‘No point in anything’

Miss Thunberg said she first heard about climate change aged about eight years old. “I was just very moved,” she said.

“When I was 11 I became very depressed,” she added. “It had a lot to do with the climate and ecological crisis. I thought everything was just so wrong and nothing was happening and there’s no point in anything.”

After realising she could make a difference, she said she promised herself that “I was going to do something good with my life”.

The teenager also admitted that, when she first told her parents of her plan to miss school every Friday, they “weren’t very fond of that idea”.

In the wide-ranging BBC interview, Miss Thunberg said that having Asperger’s had helped her in life: “It makes me different, and being different is a gift I would say. It also makes me see things from outside the box.

“I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things. If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike for instance.”

Asked what she would say if she met US President Donald Trump, she said: “I can’t really say anything to him that he hasn’t heard before.

“Obviously he’s not listening to the science and to what we have to say so I wouldn’t be able to change his mind.”

In 2017, Mr Trump announced the US would withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on tackling climate change.

Theresa May: Cross-party talks to resume

Talks between the government and Labour on Brexit will resume later as MPs return to Westminster following the Easter break.

Cabinet ministers will meet senior opposition figures in an attempt to solve the impasse by finding a deal that could win the support of MPs.

But some Tory MPs are angry the talks with Labour are even taking place.

Leading backbencher Nigel Evans called on Theresa May to step down as prime minister “as soon as possible”.

The joint executive secretary of the back bench 1922 Committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The only way we’re going to break this impasse properly is if we have fresh leadership of the Conservative Party.

If there was an announcement today by the prime minister then of course we could start the process straight away.”

His comments came after it emerged that Mrs May faces a no-confidence challenge, from Tory campaigners.

More than 70 local association chiefs have called for an extraordinary general meeting to discuss her leadership and a non-binding vote is to be held at the National Conservative Convention EGM.

Under party rules, MPs cannot call another no-confidence vote until December 2019.

However, if the grass-roots vote showed a lack of confidence – it could put pressure on the 1922 Committee to find a way of forcibly removing the PM from office.

Mrs May is due to chair a cabinet meeting in the morning, and her de facto deputy, David Lidington, will attend the talks with Labour later.

Senior members of the 1922 committee will meet in the afternoon.

Ribble Valley MP Mr Evans said there were “severe problems” over Brexit and he hoped Mrs May “does accept the fact the call for her resignation now is growing into a clamour”.

Earlier, Mr Evans, told the BBC Mrs May “had been reaching out to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, when she should have been reaching out to the people”.

In separate news, Change UK will launch its European election campaign in Bristol, while Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will unveil its candidates in London.

The UK has been given an extension to the Brexit process until 31 October, This means the UK is likely to hold European Parliament elections on 23 May.

Breaking Sri Lanka attacks: Mass funeral on day of mourning

Mourners attended a funeral near St Sebastian Church in Negombo

The first mass funeral has begun in Sri Lanka as the country marks a day of mourning for the victims of Sunday’s bomb blasts.

The death toll of the attacks on churches and hotels has increased to 310, police said on Tuesday.

The country has observed three minutes of silence and a state of emergency is in effect to prevent further attacks.

Sri Lanka’s government has blamed the blasts on local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ).

Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The mass funeral is taking place at St Sebastian’s church in Negombo, north of Colombo, which was one of the places targeted in Sunday’s blasts.

Earlier, a moment of silence was observed at 08:30 (03:00GMT), reflecting the time the first of six bombs detonated.

Flags were lowered to half mast and people bowed their heads in silence in respect to the victims as well as the 500 people injured during the attacks.

Mourners in Sri Lanka
The death toll has risen to 310 victims and around 500 injured

The state of emergency gives police and the military sweeping powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders – powers that were last used during the nation’s civil war.

The government blocked access to Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram after the blasts.

NTJ, the group named by the government as the main suspect, has no history of large-scale attacks but came to prominence last year when it was blamed for damaging Buddhist statues.

However, neither NTJ, nor any other group, has admitted carrying out Sunday’s bombings.

Warnings ignored

Since Sunday, scrutiny has fallen on the rifts in Sri Lanka’s leadership, after it emerged authorities were warned about an imminent threat.

Security agencies had been watching the NTJ jihadist group, reports said, and had notified police about a possible attack.

But the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the cabinet were not informed, ministers said.

Police in front of St. Anthony's church
Authorities have declared a state of emergency

A rift between Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena was why Mr Wickremesinghe has not been receiving security briefings, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.

It was not clear on Monday whether Mr Sirisena had been made aware of the warnings. “Our understanding is that it was correctly circulated among security and police,” Shiral Lakthilaka, a senior adviser to Mr Sirisena, told the BBC.

He said that the president had appointed a special committee led by a supreme court judge to investigate what had happened.

How did the attacks unfold?

The first reports of explosions came at about 08:45 local time on Sunday with six blasts reported within a small space of time.

How the Sri Lanka attacks unfolded

21 April 2019

Six near-simultaneous explosions at luxury hotels and churches holding Easter mass

08:45 local time-09:05 (03:15-03:35 GMT)

Blast damage at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo.
Blast damage at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo.Image copyright byReuters

Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district are targeted during Easter services and blasts also rock the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the country’s capital.

Sri Lankan government closes school for two days.

Five hours after the initial attacks, a blast is reported near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo. This is the seventh explosion.

An eighth explosion is reported near the Colombo district of Dematagoda during a police raid, killing three officers.

A member of the Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) pictured outside a house during a raid

Sri Lankan government shuts down access to major social media messaging services

Sri Lanka’s government declares an islandwide curfew from 18:00 local time to 06:00 (12:30 GMT-00:30).

Reuters reports a petrol bomb attack on a mosque and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in two different parts of the country, citing police.

Nationwide curfew is lifted.

A “homemade” bomb found close to the main airport in the capital, Colombo, has been made safe, police say.

Death toll leaps

At least 290 people, including many foreigners, are now confirmed to have died. More than 500 are injured.

Another curfew is imposed from 20:00 local time to 04:00 23 April as a precautionary measure.

Police in Colombo have recovered 87 low-explosive detonators from the Bastian Mawatha Private Bus Station in Pettah,

People flee after new explosion

About 16:18 local time (10:48 GMT)

Video footage from St Anthony’s Shrine, shared by Guardian journalist Michael Safi, showed people running from the area in panic. According to BBC Sinhala’s Azzam Ameen, the blast happened while “security forces personnel… tried to defuse a newly discovered explosives in a vehicle”.

Police did not release a breakdown of how many people were killed and wounded at each location.

All the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, officials said.

Who were the victims?

Most of those who died were Sri Lankan nationals, including scores of Christians attending Easter Sunday church services.

The ministry of foreign affairs said it had identified 31 foreign nationals among the dead, with 14 unaccounted for. The death toll included at least eight British citizens and at least eight citizens of India.

Monique Allen was killed in one of the Sri Lanka attacks

They include three of the children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, a family spokesman confirmed to the BBC. Mr Povlsen owns the Bestseller clothing chain and holds a majority stake in clothing giant Asos.

British lawyer Anita Nicholson died alongside her two children, Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, when a suicide bomber detonated a device in the breakfast queue at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

Her husband, Ben Nicholson, survived and praised his “wonderful, perfect wife” and “amazing, intelligent” children.

China on Tuesday issued an advisory to its citizens not to travel to Sri Lanka in the near future while the US State Department had already on Sunday warned of possible further attacks in a travel advisory.

Colombia landslide: At least 17 killed and five injured

At least 17 people have been killed by a landslide on Sunday in south-western Colombia, officials say.

Five others were injured and several houses destroyed in the town of Rosas in the Cauca region.

The landslide happened after days of torrential rains hit the region and authorities are continuing to search the rubble.

Landslides are common in the Latin American country, especially during the annual rainy season.

“Unfortunately this happens when you least expect it and, because of the rainy season that we have seen, this is what happens,” said the town’s mayor, Jesus Diaz.

As well as looking for survivors, authorities are clearing debris which is blocking a major local highway.

Colombian President Iván Duque visited the town on Sunday. He told reporters that medical assistance and alternative housing was being arranged for those caught up in the landslide.

“These are difficult times, but we are united as a country to help them,” said Mr Duque in a tweet.

A member of the Colombian Red Cross and his dog, Gretta, search for victims amid dolls

Members of the civil defence and firefighters search for victims

Residents search for survivors

A man shows a Christ found in the mud after a landslide

Firefighters and members of the army and Civil Defense look for survivors

Sri Lanka attacks: St Anthony’s ‘church of miracles’ a symbol of hope

St Anthony’s Church, the site of one of the deadliest Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, is renowned as a place of worship open to all faiths, but the attacks have shut its doors for now.

For the first time in its 175-year history, people are being turned away.

The road to the shrine in Colombo’s Kochchikade district is a familiar one to many, who – regardless of their religion – would regularly come here to seek blessings.

Despite being a predominantly Roman Catholic church, its patron has acquired a reputation for being a “miracle worker”. No request, no matter how large, small or strangely specific, is left unanswered by St Anthony, people say.

On Monday, however, a day after the bomb blast ripped through its entrance, things are very different. The attack here was one of eight across the country which killed nearly 300 people and injured many more.

Police are fanned out near the turn-off to the church, marked by its distinctive large statue of St Anthony, mounted on a pedestal. The perimeter of the church itself has been cordoned off with yellow tape and is being guarded by armed security officers.

Special Task Force Bomb Squad officers inspect the site of an exploded van near a church that was attacked yesterday in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 22, 2019
Security has been stepped up across the country in the wake of the attacks

Despite this, a sizeable crowd is still gathered outside, veering as close to the perimeter as they dare, most just staring at the large white building. From a distance it looks untouched, but look harder and hints of the carnage that took place inside become more visible.

Near its entrance, half hidden by a wall, you can see bits of rubble and shards of glass. The clock on its left tower is frozen at 8.45 – the time the blast took place.

There were so many casualties here because such a large crowd had gathered. Even on a normal day, the church is filled with worshippers. For Easter Mass, the chief priest thought well over 1,000 people were in the congregation.

Aftermath of deadly Sri Lanka explosions

Scores are thought to have been killed at St Anthony’s – it’s not clear yet how many lost their lives.

Among those gathered outside the church is Prabath Buddhika. Although Mr Buddhika is Buddhist by religion, like many others, he is a strong believer in the power of St Anthony.

“My house is right here,” he said, adding that he’d been attending the church since he was a child and gone along with his family many times.

Prabath Buddhika
Prabath Buddhika says he cannot describe the carnage he saw

Like many others, Mr Buddhika ran to the church after hearing the explosions. The carnage he saw there could not be described, he says, but people fearlessly came forward from around the area in order to help.

Among them was Peter Michael Fernando, a Catholic who lives close to the church. He was asleep when the blast occurred, he says, waking up after his “bed shook” with the force of the explosion. He ran towards the church after seeing plumes of smoke rising into the sky.

There were bodies and parts of bodies everywhere. I saw there were two people who were still alive so I helped them to an ambulance. I was weeping.”

Mr Fernando says what stayed with him was the number of children he saw among the dead and injured. “They were screaming, they were bleeding. We tried to help as many as we could. I carried a little girl into one of the vans – she had lost a leg,” he said, breaking down again.

Peter Michael Fernando
Peter Michael Fernando says the force of the blast shook him awake

A little distance away stands Anuja Subasinghe, a nurse. She has been staring at the church for a long time.

“This church is for those who carry unbearable sadness – it gives them solace,” she says with tears in her eyes. “Who would do something like this? Why would they do this?”

She couldn’t come for Sunday’s Easter Mass because she had to report for duty, but on Monday morning she felt she needed to be there for the church.

“My husband died 12 years ago and the only thing that got me through that terrible tragedy was this church,” she says. “I didn’t need any other man. St Anthony was enough for me.”

Like Mr Buddhika, Ms Subasinghe was born a Buddhist, but converted to Christianity after discovering the church.

So what is it about this church and St Anthony in particular that has captured the imagination of so many people?

According to Father Leo Perera, a parish priest who serves nearby, part of it is to do with the fact St Anthony’s Church has always been associated with miracles.

In fact, its very origin has been attributed to one.

Father Leo Perera
Father Perera says the attacks will not erode faith in the church

According to local legend and the written history of the archdiocesan archives, St Anthony’s Church was built by a priest from Cochin in southern India, named Father Antonio. He secretly practised Catholicism during the Dutch rule of Colombo in the 18th Century, although it had been named a proscribed religion.

He was able to build the church, the legend says, after performing a miracle. The locals had come to him in panic after seeing the sea rising and asked him to pray for it to recede. He did, and the sea not only receded, but a sand bank suddenly emerged from the waters. So he planted a cross there and built a small mud church, in which he remained until his death.

The other reason, Father Leo says, is the fact that many people have testified that the church has answered prayers and restored faith.

“Everyone who goes there comes away with the happy feeling that their prayers have been heard,” he said, adding that on special celebratory feast days, the church was always full of grateful people who had come to give offerings as thanks for having their prayers heard.

But what next, I ask him? Will the attacks erode people’s faith in the power of this church?

“Absolutely not,” he says with emotion.

“You cannot keep people away from here just because of something like this. They will keep coming back because this is the time they want the presence of God in their life. There is no way this will affect the power of this church and the faith of its believers.”

This sentiment is echoed by Mr Buddhika.

Sign at St Anthony's reads "St Anthony pray for us"

“This is no ordinary church. Whoever did this didn’t know what they were messing with – they cannot simply get away with something like this.

“They will pay for this over generations.”

And this is because St Anthony’s is so much more than just a place of worship. It is a symbol of Sri Lanka’s plurality and tolerance. A reminder that in a country, still bruised by the memories of a brutal civil war and inter-religious violence, its diverse communities have traditionally lived together peacefully and embraced each other’s beliefs and differences.

That perhaps explains why so many of them still came together to stand in front of the church, to express sadness and horror at what took place within.

In its darkest hour, the church continues to be a symbol of hope – with many Sri Lankans choosing to stand together despite the hatred that has unfolded among them.

Asos billionaire loses three children in Sri Lanka attacks

Mr Holch Povlsen is one of Denmark’s richest men

Three of the four children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen died in the Sri Lanka bombing attacks, a spokesman has confirmed to the BBC

The family were visiting the country over the Easter holiday. The names of the children have not been made public.

Mr Holch Povlsen owns the international clothing chain Bestseller.

He is also the biggest single shareholder in clothing giant Asos and is the UK’s largest private landowner, according to the Times newspaper.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm the reports,” a Bestseller spokesman said in an email. “We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments.”

Mr Holch Povlsen has a large property portfolio in Scotland, where he owns about a dozen estates including Aldourie Castle. He bought them through his company Wildland, which describes itself as a “landscape-scale” conservation project.

The Holch Povlsens
The Holch Povlsens own several Scottish properties

“It is a project that we know cannot be realised in our lifetime, which will bear fruit not just for our own children, but also for the generations of visitors who, like us, hold a deep affection the Scottish Highlands,” Mr Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne say on the website.

“We wish to restore our parts of the Highlands to their former magnificent natural state and repair the harm that man has inflicted on them.”

Victims unidentified

The death toll in the Sri Lanka attacks is now at 290, following a series of blasts at churches and luxury hotels on Sunday. Police have arrested 24 people, but no-one has claimed responsibility.

The vast majority of those killed are thought to be Sri Lankan nationals, including many Christians who died at Easter services.

Bestseller store
Image captionMr Holch Povlsen owns the clothing retailer Bestseller

Authorities say they believe 36 foreign nationals are among the dead, with most still unidentified at a Colombo mortuary.

The international victims include:

  • At least eight British citizens – including two with joint US citizenship
  • Three Danish citizens
  • One Portuguese citizen and six Indian nationals
  • Two engineers from Turkey, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu
  • Two Chinese nationals, according to the China Daily
  • Two Australians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
  • One person from the Netherlands
  • One person from Japan, according to Japanese media citing government sources

Algeria protests: Police ‘detain top businessmen’

Protesters in Algeria have been demanding that those close to the former president should also relinquish power

Five of Algeria’s richest businessmen, some seen as close to ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, have been detained by police, state TV reports.

They are being held over a corruption investigation, it adds.

One of those named, industrial tycoon Issad Rebrab, denied the arrest on Twitter, saying he went to the police to sort out a business matter.

Mr Bouteflika, who had been in power for 20 years, resigned three weeks ago following anti-government protests.

The four others who have been detained are brothers from the Kouinef family, named as Reda, Tarek, Abdel Kader and Karim. They are thought to have close links with the former president.

Fresh elections are expected in July.

CEO of Algerian conglomerate Cevital Issad Rebrab speaks during the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum on November 27, 2017
Issad Rebrab is the head of the Algerian conglomerate Cevital

Their detention comes after the head of the army, Lt Gen Gaïd Salah said last week that some among the ruling elite could be questioned over alleged corruption, Reuters news agency reports.

Protesters who had been demanding the resignation of Mr Bouteflika, had also been calling for the downfall of “Le Pouvoir”, or the establishment, meaning that all those around the former president should also go.

Algeria protests: Police 'detain top businessmen
Protesters say they are getting ‘closer’ to freedom

US to end sanctions exemptions for major Iranian oil importers

The sanctions on Iran’s oil industry have led to a sharp downturn in the country’s economy

US President Donald Trump has decided to end exemptions from sanctions for countries that buy oil from Iran.

The White House said waivers for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey would expire in May, after which they could face US sanctions themselves.

This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the government its main source of revenue.

Iran insisted the sanctions were illegal and that it had attached “no value or credibility” to the waivers.

Mr Trump reinstated the sanctions last year after abandoning a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for sanctions relief.

The Trump administration hopes to compel Iran to negotiate a “new deal” that would cover not only its nuclear activities, but also its ballistic missile programme and what officials call its “malign behaviour” across the Middle East.

The sanctions have led to a sharp downturn in Iran’s economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, quadrupling its annual inflation rate, driving away foreign investors, and triggering protests.

Why aren’t the waivers being renewed?

In November, the US reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy, ship building, shipping, and banking sectors, which officials called “the core areas” of its economy.

However, six-month waivers from economic penalties were granted to the eight main buyers of Iranian crude – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece – to give them time to find alternative sources and avoid causing a shock to global oil markets.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters in Washington (22 April 2019)
Mike Pompeo said the US was “dramatically accelerating” its pressure campaign

Three of the eight buyers – Greece, Italy and Taiwan – have stopped importing Iranian oil. But the others had reportedly asked for their waivers to be extended.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Mr Trump’s decision not to renew the waivers showed his administration was “dramatically accelerating our pressure campaign in a calibrated way that meets our national security objectives while maintaining well supplied global oil markets”.

“We stand by our allies and partners as they transition away from Iranian crude to other alternatives,” he added.

We have had extensive and productive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other major producers to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply. This, in addition to increasing US production, underscores our confidence that energy markets will remain well supplied.”


Oil pressure adds to US friction

In recent weeks, Japan and South Korea have either halted or sharply decreased Iranian oil imports. Both are heavily dependent on foreign oil and Mr Pompeo said the administration had been trying to find alternatives. But Monday’s move could strain relations – already tested over issues of trade and US policy towards North Korea – with these close allies.

It’s an even bigger problem for India, which is also under American pressure to cut oil purchases from Venezuela. Iran is one of Delhi’s main oil suppliers. But India also has deep cultural and political ties with Tehran, which make it difficult to join US efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic.

China is Iran’s other big customer: it has slammed the US decision, saying its trade is perfectly legal, and the US has no jurisdiction to interfere. The question is whether Beijing will try to skirt sanctions through companies not tied to the US financial system.

Turkey was most outspoken in lobbying for a waiver extension. Ankara argues that it badly needs the oil, that as a neighbour it can’t cut ties with Iran, and that the pressure campaign won’t work anyway.


Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said his country would co-ordinate with fellow oil producers to ensure “the global oil market does not go out of balance”.

Iranian exports are currently estimated to be below 1 million barrels per day (bpd), compared to more than 2.5 million bpd before Mr Trump abandoned the nuclear deal last May.

What has been the impact on oil prices?

The price of global benchmark Brent crude rose by 3.33% to $74.37 a barrel in trading on Monday – the highest since 1 November.

US oil – known as West Texas Intermediate – was meanwhile up 2.90% at $65.93.

In recent months, the price of oil has risen due to an agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) cartel and its allies, including Russia, to cut their output by 1.2 million bpd.

How have the countries affected reacted?

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry dismissed Mr Trump’s decision, saying the country “did not and does not attach any value or credibility to the waivers”.

But Abbas Mousavi added that because of the sanctions’ negative effects, Iran was in “constant contact” with its international partners and would act accordingly.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that the US move would “not serve regional peace and stability, yet will harm Iranian people”.

“Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions and impositions on how to conduct relations with neighbours,” he added.

China said earlier that it opposed unilateral US sanctions.

“China-Iran co-operation is open, transparent and in accordance with law. It should be respected,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying there should be no “negative effect on the operations of Japanese companies”. Its refineries reportedly halted Iranian imports in March.

India’s government was studying the implications of the US announcement, the PTI news agency cited sources as saying. The country had reportedly hoped to be allowed to continue to reduce its Iranian oil imports gradually.

South Korea stopped buying Iranian oil for four months in response, but resumed in January. In March, it imported 284,600 bpd.

Sri Lanka attacks: Who are National Thowheed Jamath?

Officials inspect the damage caused by a bomb at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo

A previously unknown group called the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) is being accused of having carried out the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka – even though no group has admitted the carnage.

So who are they?

Origins

Until Monday, when the Sri Lankan government spokesman mentioned their name, very few people had heard of the NTJ.

The group is believed to have splintered off from another hardline Islamist group in the country, the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ).

While still relatively unknown, the SLTJ is a bit more established. Its secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested in 2016 for inciting hatred against Buddhists. He later issued an apology.

Some reports have also linked the NTJ to a spate of vandalism last year that targeted Buddhist temples in Mawanella, central Sri Lanka.

But it is an extremist fringe group within a small religious minority – only 9.7% of Sri Lanka’s population of about 21 million are Muslim.

Links to the attacks

Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters in Colombo on Monday that there had been “several warnings from foreign intelligence agencies about the impending attacks”.

A document seen by news agencies, reportedly sent by Sri Lanka’s police chief earlier this month, explicitly named the NTJ and warned that they were planning to attack churches and the Indian High Commission.

Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka director for the International Crisis Group, told BBC 5Live that NTJ “appears to be the same group” as those behind the Mawanella vandalism, adding: “The police eventually arrested a group of young men who were said to have been the students of a preacher who’s named in the intelligence document that came out yesterday [Sunday].”

Rajitha Senaratne
Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne (file photo) named the NTJ as suspects

But officials suspect that they weren’t acting alone.

“We don’t see that only a small organisation in this country can do all that,” Mr Senaratne said. “We are now investigating the international support for them, and their other links, how they produced the suicide bombers here, and how they produced bombs like this.”

And while not naming the NTJ directly, the Sri Lankan president’s office echoed this belief that whichever group was behind the attacks had help from abroad.

“The intelligence sections have reported that there are international terror groups which are behind the local terrorists,” a statement from President Maithripala Sirisena said. “International assistance will be sought to combat them.”

Extinction Rebellion: Olympic canoeing champion Etienne Stott arrested in climate change protests

Stott (left) earlier made a speech while sat on top of a bus stop alongside TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham

Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott was one of hundreds arrested during climate change protests in London over the weekend.

The 39-year-old, who won C2 canoe slalom gold at London 2012, was carried from Waterloo Bridge by four police officers on Sunday evening.

He had shouted of the “ecological crisis” and earlier given a speech while sat on top of a bus stop.

Speaking on Saturday, Stott said the protests were “really important”.

“I don’t think there is anything more meaningful that I could be doing in my life right now,” said Manchester-born Stott.

“I feel like it is really tough to disrupt people’s lives like this, but this is really important because I believe the disruption that will come down the line if we do not declare a climate emergency and do not tackle this situation of climate change, it will just dwarf any inconvenience here today.”

As of 19:00 BST on Sunday, a total of 963 people had been arrested during the Extinction Rebellion protests in the UK capital, but only 40 people have been charged.

Thousands of people have been campaigning at sites including Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Westminster and Marble Arch.

Etienne Stott is carried by police after being arrested

Extinction Rebellion: Olympic canoeing champion Etienne Stott arrested in climate change protests
Etienne Stott won C2 gold at London 2012 alongside Tim Baillie

An alternative way to capture childhood on your phone

Parents are desperate to record childhood memories and the smartphone has allowed them to do this like never before. But what is the best way to go about it?

If all the videos you took of your children growing up were damaged and you could keep only the pictures or the sound, which would it be?

I liked to tantalise myself with this question before I had children, and I imagined surprising people by saying that – despite being a video journalist – I would choose the sound.

There is something more evocative about it, particularly the voice. To hear again a deceased relative, for example, is more arresting to me than to see a picture or silent video.

However, what I’ve actually found since becoming a parent is that there is another way of recording the fleeting moments of childhood, the results of which are more precious to me than either video or sound.

My preferred method still involves the smartphone, but it is focused on the power of words.

To explain the inspiration behind my method I need to recall my own childhood.

When I was around 10 or 11 years old, I became intrigued by a book I found on my parents’ bookshelf.

It was called Conversations with Children, an anthology of transcripts made by a child psychologist called R D Laing, who recorded what his children had said.

It was full of all the wonderful, crazy, uninhibited ideas you might expect. It was both entertaining and thought-provoking because Laing took the chance to explain the common patterns of emotional and intellectual development experts find in children.

He explained how during childhood we gradually come to understand concepts that determine our place in the world and what is possible within it: size, geography, time, empathy, ownership, societal norms, death.

I determined that when I had children I would record something similar myself.

Laing
R. D. Laing’s ‘Conversations with Children’ was a bestseller first published in 1978

In 2009 I acquired my first child and Steve Jobs’s third iPhone,

So I was part of the first generation of parents to have easy access to a stills camera, video recorder, audio recorder and digital notepad all in one handy device.

The early iPhones, having a fairly low resolution, didn’t capture video very well. But in any case, when my daughter started to speak her first words, I found that I had a strong impulse to write down what she said rather than film her – remembering Laing’s inspirational book.

To begin with, I wrote her early words in an ornate, hardback book that I bought specially for the purpose, befitting the words’ importance, I thought.

But this presented problems. I soon became worried about losing it. And it took time to find it when there was something to write down, meaning I might forget what had been said in the meantime.

I found it more convenient to write down the words in the Notes app of my iPhone, which I could always whip out of my pocket. Once a month or so I could email the notes so I had a back-up copy. Later, cloud computing would help.

iPhone pic

I had never in my life kept a diary, but suddenly it felt vital to record the experiences unfolding around me as accurately as possible.

Some pitfalls immediately became apparent on appointing myself the family’s digital scribe and archivist.

My fumbling on the phone was sometimes misconstrued as untimely and indulgent internet surfing – an injustice when I was actually engaged in the noble task of recording events for posterity. You have to disengage temporarily from family life to make a decent stab of recording it accurately.

iPhone

Of course I wanted to keep as accurate a record as possible.

But can words, recalled by a human, be as reliable as recorded video or sound?

One thing I’ve found from hours spent filming and recording audio at work as a BBC News video features journalist is that the most poignant moments are very difficult to capture.

You are lucky to have the mechanical equipment on and recording during that telling event that unfolded so quickly around you.

But by using that capturing device that is always on but invisible, known as our memory, any event, any candid, revelatory moment that unfolded suddenly out of the mundane, can be recorded and cherished.

The trade-off is you lose the 100% mechanical guarantee of accuracy.

There have been times when something wonderful was said so perfectly by my children, that I was determined to write down their precise words at the first opportunity.

Unnatural reactions

But inevitably I would be confounded by a thousand preoccupations that looking after children throws your way, resulting in the mental agony that I couldn’t guarantee to myself that I’d recorded the words correctly.

Longer, drawn-out conversations, of course – like an argument between two siblings over who has the larger spoon at breakfast – can’t, unfortunately, be recorded verbatim.

Another issue I’ve encountered at work is the reaction of humans to being recorded.

As soon as the red light is on and the subject is invited to speak, everybody to some extent acts unnaturally, from the member of the public (nervous) to the media-trained professional (too polished, verbose and over-confident).

The most revealing comments – even when a story is completely uncontroversial – are made off-camera, when a person is relaxed and has forgotten the recording device is there.

This doesn’t matter for the uninhibited toddler. But certainly from around five years old, a child has developed enough self-consciousness and a sense of identity to change behaviour when they realise they are being filmed for others and for posterity.

Notes

You can tell this from the way they now produce a staged smile for a photograph.

This phase of child development is recorded in my own notes.

I begin to find references, from around the age of five, to the whole note-recording process, including requests for things to be written down because the subjects themselves realise what they have said is funny or otherwise noteworthy.

Occasionally there is an objection to the whole enterprise, for being embarrassing or boring.

Shadows

Of course I’m sure I’m not the first parent to have written down the choice words their children have spoken.

But I am one of the new generation to benefit from having the smartphone to aid the enterprise.

In an age when parents are obsessively filming, photographing and sharing to social media, I think it’s worth remembering the power of this simpler, in some ways more intimate, method.

It’s something I came to appreciate even more as I witnessed my children learning to read and write themselves: the joy of being absorbed in a book you are devouring, the creative possibilities opened up by writing.

Both are so much more fulfilling than passively consuming an endless stream of games and videos on a mobile device.

Future-proof

Recording childhood through a digital record of words also carries some practical benefits. It avoids the nightmare of trying to sync videos from your phone and then organise and archive them in a safe place.

And it is also more future-proof, because you have to wonder whether, in decades’ time, the video file formats you used will still be readable.

Today my children have both reached five years old. The endearing, hilarious, uninhibited, sweet, surreal words still flow – although now they are more of a manageable trickle.

My book stands at 135 pages long.

When I look back on the notes, the power of these words is already greater than I could have imagined when I started the project.

To reread them stirs memories, recalling sights and sounds from the moment they were spoken, in a very vivid way.

Perhaps one day when I am frail in a care home this most precious book can be read to me.

Perhaps by my own children, if they visit.

And they will know that I was there and I heard every word.

And that I cared enough to record it.

Newspaper headlines: ‘Innocent lives lost’ in ‘Easter massacre’

i front page 22/04/19
The front pages are dominated by the deaths of more than 200 people in explosions targeting churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. The i says the victims come from countries including the UK, Turkey, China, India and Holland, and 450 others were also injured.

Guardian front page 22/04/19
The Guardian says political and religious leaders across the world have condemned the attacks, which it says appeared timed to cause maximum casualties among worshippers attending Easter services and holidaymakers eating breakfast at their hotels.

Mirror front page 22/04/19
‘The Easter Massacre’ is the headline in the Mirror, which has a picture of St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, where dozens were killed by an explosion. The paper says the “peace of Easter church services was cruelly shattered” by the attackers, “who brought death and destruction to places of worship”.

Daily Express front page 22/04/19
The Express reports that five Britons were among those killed in the “co-ordinated” attacks. It also has a picture of the inside of St Sebastian’s, which was severely damaged by the blast.

Sun front page 22/04/19
The Sun says a mum and her two children are feared to be among the British victims. The paper says that Anita Nicholson, 42, was in a breakfast queue with her son, Alex, 11, and daughter Annabel, when a blast hit their hotel. Their deaths have not been independently verified by the BBC.

Telegraph front page 22/04/19
The Telegraph has a picture of the same British family on its front page. The paper reports that the father, Ben, survived, but it was unable to account for the whereabouts of the couple’s daughter.

Daily Mail front page 22/04/19
The Daily Mail says the family, who are originally from Upminster in Essex, were on holiday in Colombo at the time of the attack. They were believed to have been living in Singapore, where Mr Nicholson works, the paper reports.

The Times front page 22/04/19
Sri Lankan police had issued a warning to senior officials just 10 days before the attack, according to the Times. The paper says they had foreign intelligence that suicide bombers affiliated with the Muslim group NTJ (National Throwheeth Jamaath) planned to hit “prominent churches”. However, it says no group has yet claimed responsibility.

Financial Times front page
The Financial Times says the attacks are the most lethal violence to hit Sri Lanka since the end of its civil war in 2009. The paper reports that the country’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene has blamed “religious extremists”. Its front page also has a photo of comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who won a landslide victory to become the president of Ukraine – despite having no political experience.

Daily Star front page 22/04/19
The Daily Star has a story about a charity fundraiser dressed as Superman who swooped in to help police as they struggled to arrest a man in Norwich city centre. The dad-of-five, Saleem Syed, said he “just happened to be in the right place at the right time”, when he helped control the man, who had become aggressive towards the officers.

At St Anthony’s Church in Colombo on Sunday, the worshippers closed their eyes in prayer – and then, says the Times, the carnage began.

The front page of the Daily Express has a stark image of the devastated church – and in common with the Daily Mirror uses the headline “Easter Massacre”.

The Financial Times calls it the most lethal violence in the country since the end of its long civil war in 2009.

For the Guardian, the attacks were a shocking and heartbreaking blow to the hopes of an island still striving for a lasting peace.

In short, concludes the Daily Telegraph, an era of peace has been shattered by a new menace.

Sri Lankan security forces secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade
St Anthony’s Shrine in the Kochchikade district of Colombo was one of three churches to be targeted

Many of the papers have the same photograph of a British woman and her two children who are feared dead after an explosion at a hotel. Anita Nicholson’s husband, Ben, is reported to have survived.

The Sun features the account of a British doctor – who was on holiday with his family at another of the hotels that were targeted. He describes how they were woken by the blast and how the subsequent scenes left his wife and children traumatised.

In the Sri Lankan press, the FT talks of extremism engulfing the country. As a result, it reports, schools will be closed on Monday and on Tuesday all police leave has been cancelled and a curfew imposed.

The Daily Mirror says sources believe the suspects were part of a radical Islamist group.

Writing in the Sri Lanka Guardian, an expert in south Asian studies suggests the attacks were the work of Muslim extremists.

Here, the Daily Mail believes they had all the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, with suicide bombings targeting civilians.

The Daily Telegraph expresses concern about comments by the fertility regulator, Sally Cheshire, who believes some IVF clinics are offering older women false hope.

In an interview with the paper, she says some parts of the sector are using “blatant” sales tactics to exploit a vulnerable market.

The Telegraph argues that new guidance is needed – and if that does not work, then the government will have to step in.

Role abroad for royals

Reports that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could in future spend part of the year in Africa prompt much comment.

Writing in the Mail, Robert Hardman says the couple would be following a great family tradition. He recalls how – as Princess Elizabeth – the Queen made her first foreign visit to Africa.

The Mirror thinks that with the couple having so much potential, finding them a suitable role will not be easy.

But the Sun reports that there are concerns within the royal household about the cost of the move. It suggests the security bill would top £1m a year.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a visit to Morocco in February
Reports suggest plans are being drawn up to give Prince Harry and Meghan a major international role that could see them move abroad

The Times highlights new research which found a simple and cunning way to encourage teenagers to give up junk food and eat healthily.

Researchers in Texas say a group of 13-years-olds were given an account of the business practices of big food companies that spend billions on advertising to persuade people to eat sugary, fatty treats.

The idea was to prey on the natural rebelliousness of teenagers – and sure enough, says the paper, over the next three months they tended to opt for healthier food.

Sudan crisis: Protesters cut ties with military council

Sudan protesters
Sudanese protesters gathered for a mass protest in front of the defence ministry

Protest leaders in Sudan have said they have broken off contact with the ruling military council that replaced ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.

They accused it of being composed of “remnants” of Mr Bashir’s regime.

Thousands of protesters have gathered outside army HQ in Khartoum for a meeting to announce a civilian council they now want to take power.

The military says it is committed to handing over power and will consider a joint military-civilian council.

Protesters have continued to stage a sit-in in central Khartoum
Protesters have continued to stage a sit-in in central Khartoum

However, protest movement spokesman Mohamed al-Amin said they now considered the military council an “extension of the regime” and vowed to escalate the protests.

The crowds are still large and the cheering is still emphatic. But after more than a fortnight of protests the broad front of groups that makes up the Sudanese opposition finds itself confronted with one of the most fundamental quandaries to face a peaceful protest movement: what to do when those you seek to overthrow refuse to accede?

The protest leaders had been expected to announce their candidates for a civilian council to rule Sudan through a transition to full democracy. But last night – after days of expectation – they failed to do that.

This has prompted speculation about divisions as different groups argue about policy and positions. Instead the opposition said it was suspending negotiations with the ruling military council and called for escalating protests.

For now the generals on the ruling military council seem to have regained some cohesion. They have also been given strong backing – including more than $3bn (£2.3bn) in aid – from the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. There is widespread scepticism among the opposition about any military willingness to hand over power to a civilian-dominated transitional council.

Presentational grey line

What are protest leaders planning?

The campaign to remove Mr Bashir has been spearheaded by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) and it was behind the announcement of the civilian council.

Sudan protesters
Sudanese protesters wave national flags and shout slogans

The SPA held talks with the military on Saturday.

A senior SPA member, Ahmed al-Rabia, initially indicated this might delay the naming of the council but on Sunday he confirmed the announcement would go ahead at the Khartoum protest site.

The protesters want their new council to form a transitional government, leading to elections.

What will the military do?

On Sunday it said it would respond to the call for civilian rule within a week, and indicated it might favour a joint council.

It has, however, released political prisoners and on Saturday arrested a number of top members of Mr Bashir’s former ruling party.

While the military has promised not to remove protesters from their sit-in, it also called on them to “let normal life resume”.

How did it all begin?

In December 2018, the government tried to stave off economic collapse by imposing, emergency austerity measures and a sharp currency devaluation

Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the military after months of protests

Cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked, demonstrations in the east over living standards, but the anger soon spread to Khartoum.

The Sudanese military toppled Mr Bashir on 11 April but demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is a move to civilian rule.

Who are the protesters?

The economic problems brought Sudanese from all walks of life on to the streets but the organisation of demonstrations was taken on by the SPA, a collaboration of doctors, health workers and lawyers, and his government.

A large proportion of the protesters have been women and the demonstrators are mostly young.

Ukraine election: Comedian Zelensky wins presidency by landslide


Volodymyr Zelensky and his supporters celebrate winning Ukraine's presidential election
Volodymyr Zelensky and his supporters celebrate winning Ukraine’s presidential election

Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has won a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election, exit polls suggest.

The polls give the political newcomer, who dominated the first round of voting three weeks ago, more than 70% support.

Mr Zelensky, 41, challenged incumbent president Petro Poroshenko who has admitted defeat.

The apparent result is being seen as a huge blow to Mr Poroshenko and a rejection of Ukraine’s establishment.

“I will never let you down,” Mr Zelensky told celebrating supporters on Sunday.

I’m not yet officially the president,” he added. “But as a citizen of Ukraine I can say to all countries in the post-Soviet Union: Look at us. Anything is possible!”

If polls are correct, he will be elected for a five-year term. Official results are expected to come in throughout Sunday night.

Mr Zelensky is best known for starring in a satirical television series in which his character accidentally becomes Ukrainian president.

The president holds significant powers over the security, defence and foreign policy of the country.

Humiliation for Poroshenko

Ukraine’s choice was between an experienced politician with five years as president on his CV and a comedian wielding little more than a blank sheet of paper. That so many people have opted for Volodymyr Zelensky is a humiliation for Petro Poroshenko.

Thirty-seven candidates were removed from the ballot paper from the first round and yet the president only picked up about 9% more votes this time. Mr Zelensky gained almost 45%.

This feels like a massive protest vote and for now Mr Zelensky and his campaign team are celebrating.

It’s hard to see the feeling lasting long. The hard work will come when they have to start fleshing out what are at the moment vague policies.

It’s one thing to have bold ideas but quite another to implement them.

Presentational grey line

Polls gave Mr Poroshenko, who has been in power since 2014, 25% of the vote.

“The outcome of the election leaves us with uncertainty [and] unpredictability,” he said after exit polls were released.

He added: “I will leave office but I want to firmly stress – I will not quit politics.”

Presidential election results. Second round

Latest as of 04:51, 22 April, Kiev time (BST +2). 70.33% of votes counted

UKRAINE

Turnout: 62.07%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 73
Petro Poroshenko: 24.66

Lviv

Turnout: 67.34%

Votes for each candidate (%):Petro Poroshenko: 64.41
Volodymyr Zelensky: 32.84

Transcarpathia

Turnout: 46.38%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 81.17
Petro Poroshenko: 16.21

Mykolayiv

Turnout: 60.66%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 85.92
Petro Poroshenko: 12.22

Ivano-Frankivsk

Turnout: 59.86%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 53.52
Petro Poroshenko: 43.43

Volyn

Turnout: 64.25%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 61.66
Petro Poroshenko: 35.66

Rivne

Turnout: 60.71%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 59.61
Petro Poroshenko: 37.89

Ternopil

Turnout: 63.9%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 50.71
Petro Poroshenko: 46.4

Vinnytsia

Turnout: 62.52%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 63.63
Petro Poroshenko: 34.21

Dnipropetrovsk

Turnout: 65.82%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 87.67
Petro Poroshenko: 10.41

Donetsk

Turnout: 57.21%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 86.77
Petro Poroshenko: 10.76

Zhytomyr

Turnout: 61.15%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 73.78
Petro Poroshenko: 24.03

Zaporizhzhya

Turnout: 64.26%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 87.1
Petro Poroshenko: 11.02

Kiev region

Turnout: 64.2%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 69.75
Petro Poroshenko: 27.99

Kirovohrad

Turnout: 60.53%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 80.28
Petro Poroshenko: 17.69

Luhansk

Turnout: 56.33%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 88.26
Petro Poroshenko: 9.45

Odesa

Turnout: 58.94%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 87.31
Petro Poroshenko: 10.48

Poltava

Turnout: 64.88%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 82.35
Petro Poroshenko: 15.47

Sumy

Turnout: 62.84%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 81.97
Petro Poroshenko: 15.93

Kharkiv

Turnout: 64.6%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 86.5
Petro Poroshenko: 11.5

Kherson

Turnout: 57.42%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 82.05
Petro Poroshenko: 15.92

Khmelnytsky

Turnout: 62.65%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 70.39
Petro Poroshenko: 27.24

Cherkasy

Turnout: 60.91%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 76.84
Petro Poroshenko: 20.64

Chernivtsi

Turnout: 54.09%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 76.2
Petro Poroshenko: 21.28

Chernihiv

Turnout: 62.6%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 77.69
Petro Poroshenko: 20.07

Kiev city

Turnout: 65.86%

Votes for each candidate (%):Volodymyr Zelensky: 60.24
Petro Poroshenko: 36.88

The billionaire was elected after an uprising overthrew the country’s previous pro-Russian government.

Russian forces annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March 2014 – a move condemned internationally. Since then, Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists and volunteers in the east.

In a tweet, Mr Poroshenko said “a new inexperienced Ukrainian president… could be quickly returned to Russia’s orbit of influence”.

Petro Poroshenko
Petro Poroshenko was elected after an uprising overthrew the previous pro-Russian government

But Russia’s foreign ministry said Ukrainian voters had expressed their desire for political change.

“The new leadership now must understand and realise the hopes of its electors,” deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin told the Ria Novosti news agency. “This of course applies to domestic as well as foreign affairs.”

Meanwhile, Mr Zelensky told a news conference he would “reboot” peace talks with the separatists.

“We will… continue with the Minsk talks – we will reboot them,” he said.

“I think that we will have personnel changes. In any case we will continue in the direction of the Minsk talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire.”

Who is Volodymyr Zelensky?

Mr Zelensky starred in the long-running satirical drama Servant of the People in which his character accidentally becomes Ukraine’s president.

He plays a teacher who is elected after his expletive-laden rant about corruption goes viral on social media.

He ran under a political party with the same name as his show.

Volodymyr Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to tackle corruption and cronyism

With no previous political experience, Mr Zelensky’s campaign focused on his difference to the other candidates rather than on any concrete policy ideas.

Despite this, he won the first round with more than 30% of the vote – almost double what Mr Poroshenko got when he finished in second place with 15.95%.

What do voters think of him?

Analysts believe Mr Zelensky’s informal style and vow to clean up Ukrainian politics resonated with voters who are disillusioned with the country’s path under Mr Poroshenko.

Eschewing traditional campaign tactics, Mr Zelensky channelled his on-screen persona by promising to stamp out corruption and loosen the grip of oligarchs on Ukraine.

Experts say his supporters, frustrated with establishment politicians and cronyism, have been energised by his charisma and anti-corruption message.

His critics, meanwhile, are sceptical about his credentials, with many expressing concern over his close links to the billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi.

They have expressed doubts that he will be able to take on the country’s influential oligarchs and stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sri Lanka attacks: Five Britons killed in explosions

Deadly explosions strike across Sri Lanka

Five British citizens have been killed in explosions at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

Police say at least 207 people have been killed and 450 injured in eight blasts, six of which were in Colombo.

Three Britons and two with joint US and UK citizenship were among the dead, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said.

The UK Foreign Office confirmed British nationals were among those killed but has not confirmed the number of victims.

A spokesman said: “Our staff are supporting the relatives of the victims and are continuing to work with the relevant authorities to obtain further information.”

Officials in Sri Lanka say there have been at least 27 foreign casualties.

Danish, Turkish and Dutch citizens are also among those known to have died.

The UK’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, James Dauris, said he had spoken with Britons in hospital “who have been affected by today’s senseless attacks”.

Mr Dauris urged those still in the country to contact relatives and to follow instructions from local authorities.

In the capital Colombo, St Anthony’s Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted.

There were also explosions at a hotel near Dehiwala zoo and in the residential district of Dematagoda.

Further blasts took place in St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a town approximately 20 miles north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in Batticaloa, on the east coast.

St Sebastian's church in Negombo was severely damaged
St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo was severely damaged

Sri Lankan soldiers stand guard outside the Kochchikade church in Colombo
Sri Lankan soldiers stand guard outside the Kochchikade church in Colombo

Kieran Arasaratnam, a professor at Imperial College London, was on his way to the breakfast room in the Shangri-La hotel when he heard the blast.

He told the BBC he saw a young child, aged about eight or nine, being carried to an ambulance, and all around him, “everyone’s just running in panic”.

“The military was coming in. It’s just total chaos. So I then just literally ran out and then I looked to the room on the right and there’s blood everywhere.”

‘Lucky to be alive’

Tourist Marisa Keller, from London, was also staying at the Shangri-La but wasn’t in the hotel when it was attacked. She said she felt “lucky to be alive”.

“My cousin called to say a hotel had been bombed,” she said. “We saw the ambulances at the Cinnamon Grand and said ‘you’re right’.

“Then we got back to the Shangri-La and saw everybody outside. The staff were trying to make sure who was safe and who was not.

“There were lots of bodies, blood, ambulances, police. Swat teams were sent in.

“One side of the hotel was blocked off. They were letting people back in because of the hot sun.”

Damage at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo
One of the explosions hit the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo

Sri Lankan police at the site of an explosion at the luxury Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.
Sri Lankan police at the site of an explosion at the luxury Shangri-La hotel in Colombo

Julian Emmanuel and his family, from Surrey, were staying at the Cinnamon Grand when they were woken up by the explosion.

“There were ambulances, fire crews, police sirens,” he told the BBC.

“I came out of the room to see what’s happening, we were ushered downstairs.

“We were told there had been a bomb. Staff said some people were killed. One member of staff told me it was a suicide bomber.”

Retired doctor Simon Whitmarsh, from Wales, is on holiday in Sri Lanka.

The 55-year-old was cycling near the city of Batticaloa when he heard a “big bang”.

As a former consultant paediatrician, Mr Whitmarsh volunteered at the local hospital – but was told the situation was in hand.

“By that stage, they had activated emergency protocols,” he said. “The hospital was heavily guarded by the army, who were stopping most people going in.”

A statue of the Virgin Mary broken in St Anthony's Shrine
A statue of the Virgin Mary, broken in St Anthony’s Shrine

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, but it not yet clear who is responsible.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK, Manisha Gunasekera, said the “magnitude and precision” of the attacks was “unprecedented”.

She added that authorities were “doing everything that they can to bring the perpetrators to justice”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has condemned the attacks as “utterly despicable destruction” during his Easter address at Canterbury Cathedral.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the killings were “truly appalling” and “no-one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the “horrifying attacks”.

He said there was “no hard knowledge” yet about the perpetrators of the atrocity, but added: “What we can say is there is a growing trend to attack Christians and these are not, on the whole, Christians in rich Western countries. These are some of the poorest people in the world, often people who are practising Christianity as a minority faith in the country that they are in.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “I stand with the victims, their families, the people of Sri Lanka and Christians around the world. We must defeat this hatred with unity, love and respect.”


The Foreign Office has directed British citizens to two helplines:

  • Those in Sri Lanka and can call the Embassy in Colombo: +94 11 5390639
  • Those in the UK who are concerned for British friends or family in Sri Lanka can call: 020 7008 1500

Mournes wildefire: Over 50 firefighters battle blaze

Over 50 firefighters battle Mournes blaze

More than 50 firefighters are battling to bring a blaze under control on the Mourne Mountains in County Down.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received a report that a fire had broken out in Donard Forest at 20:30 BST on Sunday.

The fire front is currently a mile long, and the effort to bring it under control is expected to last until Monday morning.

A total of eight appliances are at the scene.

Guests at Bonny’s Caravan Park near to where the fire is have been evacuated.

Resident on Tullybrannigan Road looks out at fire

Residents of Tullybrannigan Road were also among those forced to leave their homes and several buses were brought in to help with the evacuation.

The Newcastle Centre, a Council-run leisure centre in the County Down town, has been opened for people evacuated due to the fire.

It is understood at least 200 people are at the centre, most of whom were staying at Bonny’s Caravan Park.

Mats have been set up in some of the rooms to allow for overnight stays.

Further evacuees are expected to be taken to the centre overnight.

‘Unbelievable’

Jim Beattie, who was on Tullybrannigan Road when the fire broke out and has a caravan in Bonny’s Caravan Park, said the fire had spread so quickly it was “unbelievable”.

“It was at the edge of the house here when it diverted and there are at least five fire crews here that I can see and they are starting to evacuate the homes,” he said.

“We don’t know where people are being told to go.

“There is no sense of panic but residents are naturally concerned and haven’t been told where to go, simply to get out. It is really raging now.”

British woman killed by gunmen at Nigerian holiday resort

Faye Mooney had been working in Nigeria for a non-governmental organisation

A British woman was one of two people shot dead by gunmen who stormed a holiday resort in Nigeria.

The British High Commission confirmed the death of the woman, who was named by her employers as Faye Mooney.

A Mercy Corps statement said Ms Mooney, who was working in Nigeria, was “tragically killed” by gunmen while on holiday in the northern city of Kaduna.

Local police said a Nigerian man was also killed, and three others were kidnapped during the attack on Friday.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians frequently targeted.

Ms Mooney was employed in Nigeria as a communication specialist for the non-governmental organisation Mercy Corps, which said it was “utterly heartbroken”.

Neal Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps chief executive, said she had worked with the company for almost two years “leading efforts to counter hate speech and violence” in Nigeria.

He said the graduate of University College London and the London School of Economics, who had previously worked in Iraq and Kosovo, was “an inspiration to us all”.

Police said there had been no claim of responsibility for the incident and the kidnappers were yet to be identified.

A spokesman said a group armed with dangerous weapons had gained entry to Kajuru Castle and began shooting sporadically, killing two people and kidnapping three others.

Extinction Rebellion: Climate protesters ‘making a difference’

Greta Thunberg was greeted with loud cheers as she took to the stage

A teenage climate change activist has told Extinction Rebellion protesters in central London they are “making a difference”.

Greta Thunberg, 16, was greeted with loud cheers and chants of “we love you” as she took to the stage in front of thousands at the rally in Marble Arch.

Earlier, one of the group’s members said the protests would be “paused”.

But another said they planned “a week of activities” including a bid to prevent MPs from entering Parliament.

Ms Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who is credited with inspiring an international movement to fight climate change, told the crowd “humanity is standing at a crossroads” and that protesters “will never stop fighting for this planet”.

“We are now facing an existential crisis,” she added.

“The climate crisis, the ecological crisis they have been ignored for decades and for way to long the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything at all.

“But we will make sure they will not get away with it any longer.”

Protesters gathered at Marble Arch
Thousands of protesters gathered at Marble Arch to hear Greta Thunberg speak

As of 19:00 BST on Sunday, a total of 963 people had been arrested during the climate change protests.

The Met Police said 40 people, aged 19 to 77, have been charged for “various offences including breach of Section 14 Notice of the Public Order Act 1986, obstructing a highway and obstructing police”.

Extinction Rebellion has said it hoped to negotiate with the Mayor of London and the Met over continuing its demonstrations at Old Palace Yard in Westminster and leaving other sites.

Organisers said there would be a “People’s Assembly” at Marble Arch on Monday afternoon to decide what will happen in the coming week.

police protest
Hundreds of officers from other police forces have been sent to London to help the Met

Earlier, Extinction Rebellion member Farhana Yamin said the group had offered to “pause” protests and begin a “a new phase of rebellion” to achieve “political aims”.

She said the move would show the group was an “organised and a long-term political force to be reckoned with”.

However, another Extinction Rebellion organiser Larch Maxey told the BBC there “certainly won’t be a pause in our activities”.

He said: “On Tuesday we’ve got a series of strategic points around the city which we will be targeting to cause maximum economic disruption while simultaneously focusing on Parliament and inviting MPs to pause.”

Asked if MPs would be able to get into Parliament, he added: “Not if we are successful, we’re going to prevent them getting in so they have time to separate themselves from the politicking and concentrate on what’s at stake here.”

waterloo bridge disruption
Cressida Dick said Londoners had experienced “miserable disruption” because of the protests

Officers carry away pieces of wood as they break up the climate change activist's camp on Waterloo Bridge
Officers carry away pieces of wood as they break up the protesters’ camp on Waterloo Bridge

Police have been trying to confine the protests to Marble Arch but demonstrators have ignored the threat of arrest and continued to block roads across the capital.

Areas around Oxford Circus and Parliament Square have reopened to traffic after officers cleared protesters, but they continue to occupy Waterloo Bridge.

At about 15:40 BST on Sunday, some activists on Waterloo Bridge began removing their collection of trees and plants.

Police have also removed the skate ramp, cooking tents and other infrastructure from the activists’ camp on the bridge.

Officers also cut free and arrested protesters who were “locked on” or glued to Waterloo Bridge.

Free hugs
Climate change protesters have been demonstrating across central London since Monday

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had never experienced anything like the protests in her career.

She said: “I’ve been a police officer for 36 years, I have never known an operation, a single operation, in which over 700 people have been arrested.”

Ms Dick added she was grateful for the help from hundreds of police officers drafted in from several forces, including the neighbouring City of London Police.

Officers from Kent, Sussex, Essex, Hampshire and Greater Manchester have also been sent.

Officers carry sofa
Police have removed infrastructure from the activists’ Waterloo Bridge camp

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the protests were “counter-productive” to London and “more than 9,000 officers” had been responding to the demonstrations.

He said: “Londoners have suffered too much disruption and the policing operation has been extremely challenging for our over-stretched and under-resourced police.

“I’m extremely concerned about the impact the protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime if they continue any longer.

“It simply isn’t right to put Londoners’ safety at risk like this.”

oxford circus
Police cleared Oxford Circus of protesters on Saturday after six days of demonstrations

Presentational grey line

What is Extinction Rebellion?

The co-founder of the protest group invites people to join them
The co-founder of the protest group invites people to join them

Since the group was set up last year, members have shut bridges, poured buckets of fake blood outside Downing Street, blockaded the BBC and stripped semi-naked in Parliament.

It has three core demands  : for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

Controversially, the group is trying to get as many people arrested as possible.

But critics say they cause unnecessary disruption and waste police time when forces are already overstretched.

Libya crisis: Clashes erupt south of capital Tripoli

Libya’s UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Heavy fighting has erupted south of Tripoli after Libya’s UN-backed government announced a counter-offensive against insurgent forces.

It comes after days of limited advances by either side, in clashes which have killed 220 people.

Soldiers loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar launched an attack earlier this month with the aim of taking Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serra has condemned the “silence” of his international allies amid the fighting.

Details of progress by both sides was not immediately clear.

Mr Serra’s Government of National Accord says it has carried out seven air strikes on areas held by Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

The group has been advancing on the city from multiple directions, and says it has taken Tripoli’s international airport.

The UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Haftar’s forces.

Libyan fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) run as they fire their guns during clashes
Soldiers loyal to the Tripoli government have been defending the capital since Gen Haftar began an assault on 4 April

Gen Haftar, a former army officer, was appointed chief of the LNA in 2015 under an earlier, internationally recognised government based in Tobruk..

He has support from Egypt, Russia and the UAE.

The White House says President Trump has spoken to Gen Haftar suggesting the US may also endorse a new government under his command.

General Khalifa Haftar
Gen Haftar is fighting to unseat the UN-backed government

Both America and Russia have refused to support a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

An LNA spokesperson told AFP news agency: “We have won the political battle and we have convinced the world that the armed forces are fighting terrorism.”

Gen Haftar has support from several foreign powers, who see him as a potentially stabilising force in the chaos of post-revolution Libya, BBC Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher reports.

Some Libyans feel the same way, but others see him as just another warlord bent on winning power by force, our editor.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

Turkish opposition leader attacked at soldier’s funeral

Kemal Kilicdaroglu was pushed and shoved by crowds at the funeral in Ankara

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has been attacked by protesters at a military funeral in Ankara.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu was set upon by an angry crowd while attending a memorial on Sunday.

Footage shows him being pushed and shoved in the melee, with some in the crowd attempting to land blows.

Escorted by security forces, he took shelter in a nearby house until the crowd dispersed.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu being jostled by crowds at a funeral
Mr Kilicdaroglu had to take refuge in a nearby house to escape the mob

Mr Kilicdaroglu had attended the funeral to pay respects to a Turkish solider who was killed in clashes with Kurdish PKK militants near the border with Iraq.

But what started as a protest against Mr Kilicdaroglu’s presence descended into violence against him, according to Anadolu state news agency.

The CHP confirmed Mr Kılıçdaroğlu had been attacked but it was not immediately clear if he had been injured.

Speaking to AFP news agency, his party later said Mr Kilicdaroglu “is fine” while his office said legal action would be taken “against the culprits of the incident”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP party and nationalist politicians have criticised Mr Kilicdaroglu for his connections with pro-Kurdish party, HDP.

They have accused him of cooperating with the HDP, which the government has linked to Kurdish militants. HDP denies any links to militants.

Tensions have risen in Turkey since the CHP won Ankara and Istanbul in mayoral elections, delivering a blow to Mr Erdogan’s AKP party.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu addresses crowds
Kemal Kilicdaroglu speaks to his supporters after the funeral

Alleging irregularities with the vote, Mr Erodgan has challenged the slim opposition victory for the CHP’s mayoral candidate for Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu.

A recount by election authorities determined that Mr Imamoglu had won the election by around 13,000 votes, granting him his mandate.

The AKP, which has been criticised for fuelling partisan tensions, had won every election since coming to power in 2002.

On the campaign trail, Mr Erdogan said the municipal votes were about the “survival” of Turkey and his party.

Record Easter temperatures in three nations of the UK

The fine weather brought queues of people to the summit of Mount Snowdon

Three of the UK’s nations have recorded their highest ever Easter Sunday temperatures, the Met Office has revealed.

Scotland’s peak was 22.8C (73F), in Edinburgh, while in Wales the hotspot was Trawsgoed near Aberyswyth, which reached 23C.

Northern Ireland beat a 95-year-old record when the mercury hit 21C at Helen’s Bay near Bangor.

England’s highest temperature so far has been 24.5C, just shy of the record.

But the Met Office said it could yet climb higher.

The good weather has brought people in droves to beaches, parks and other outdoor attractions, while people queued to reach the top of Snowdon and Pen y Fan.

In Glasgow, hundreds of bikers – many in costume – gathered for the 40th annual charity Easter Egg Run.

The previous record in Northern Ireland was set on 20 April 1924 in Armagh, when the temperature reached 19.4C.

Wales has had its hottest Easter since 22 April 1984, when it was 21.6C in Brynamman in the Brecon Beacons.

But Scotland’s record had only stood since 5 April 2005, when 20.7C was recorded at Aboyne in Aberdeenshire.

Punting in Canterbury, Kent
Punters enjoyed the warm weather in Canterbury, Kent

Sunbathers in Swansea Bay
Sunbathers headed for Swansea Bay as Wales basked in record Easter Sunday temperatures

Hundreds of bikers gathered for the 40th annual Easter Egg Run
More than 800 bikers rode through Glasgow to deliver treats to the Royal Hospital for Children

The Easter Sunday record in England – and the UK-wide record – is 25.3C (78F), which was set in St James’s Park, London in 2011.

But on Holy Saturday in 1949, temperatures reached 29.4C (85F) in Camden Square, London.

Monday is set to be another hot day, but after that temperatures are likely to fall back to the seasonal average.

The Met Office said that while the UK has been enjoying plenty of sunshine, holiday destinations such as Spain are seeing showers, heavy downpours and cooler temperatures of 17C (63F).

Easter Rising: Irish president leads Dublin commemoration

Irish President Michael D Higgins laying a wreath at the Easter Rising commemoration in Dublin
Irish President Michael D Higgins was among those who attended the Dublin ceremony

The 103rd anniversary of the Easter Rising has been commemorated with a military ceremony in the Republic of Ireland.

Irish President Michael D Higgins laid a wreath outside the General Post Office (GPO) on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

The 1916 rebellion – in which more than 450 were killed – was an attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

The GPO served as the headquarters of the 1916 rebels.

Captain Paul Conlon and his son Seanan outside the GPO in Dublin
Captain Paul Conlon – pictured with his son Seanan – read the Proclamation outside the GPO

Crowds gathered for the national commemoration in Dublin on Sunday, with Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar among those who attended the event.

Prayers of remembrance were said and a captain in the Irish Defence Forces read the Irish Proclamation to the crowd.

Members of the Irish Defence Forces at the Easter Rising commemoration in Dublin
Members of the Irish Defence Forces lined out at the commemoration in Dublin

The proclamation, which declared the establishment of a republic, was one of the final steps taken by those who planned the rising.

It was read outside the GPO in 1916 by Pádraig Pearse, who was acting as president of the provisional government of the Irish Republic, to signal the beginning of the Easter Rising.

Other commemoration events have been held across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on Sunday.

A graphic explaining what the Easter Rising was: Rebellion to overthrow British rule in Ireland in 1916 and set up an Irish republic; Britain caught aware as its forces were focused on World War One; Rebels surrender on 29 April after onslaught by British forces in Dublin; Public support turns to support Rising after leaders executed; More than 450 people killed and 2,500 wounded

At a ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, Irish Culture Minister Josepha Madigan condemned the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland.

Police have blamed dissident republicans for her murder in Londonderry on Thursday, which happened during rioting in the city’s nationalist Creggan area.

Madigan said those responsible for the killing did not represent anybody on the island of Ireland.

There was a minute’s silence in honour of Ms McKee and those killed in bomb attacks in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Extinction Rebellion to ‘pause’ London protests

Hundreds of officers from other police forces have been sent to London to help the Met

Extinction Rebellion is to “pause” the protests that have caused widespread disruption across central London for seven days.

The group said it would mark “a new phase of rebellion” to achieve “political aims”.

A total of 831 people have been arrested during the climate change protests and 42 people charged.

Hundreds of officers from other forces have been sent to London to help the Metropolitan Police.

Extinction Rebellion said it hoped to negotiate with the Mayor of London and the Met over continuing its demonstrations at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, and leaving other sites.

Farhana Yamin, from the group, said being able to “pause” the protests showed it was an “organised and a long-term political force to be reckoned with”.

“Today marks a transition from week one, which focused on actions that were vision-holding but also caused mass disruption across many dimensions,” she said.

“Week two marks a new phase of rebellion focused on negotiations where the focus will shift to our actual political demands.”

waterloo bridge disruption
Met chief Cressida Dick said Londoners had experienced ‘miserable disruption’ because of the protests

Oxford Circus has reopened to traffic after officers cleared protesters but they continue to occupy Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square.

Campaigners who glued themselves to the roof of a lorry on Waterloo Bridge were removed and the lorry was cleared in the early hours.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had never experienced anything like it in her career.

She said: “I’ve been a police officer for 36 years – I have never known an operation, a single operation, in which over 700 people have been arrested.”

waterloo bridge
More than 800 people have been arrested since protests began on Monday

Ms Dick added she was grateful for the help from hundreds of police officers drafted in from several forces, including the neighbouring City of London Police.

Officers from Kent, Sussex, Essex, Hampshire and Greater Manchester have also been sent.

Police have been trying to confine the protests to Marble Arch but demonstrators have ignored the threat of arrest and continued to block roads across the capital.

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg is expected to address Extinction Rebellion members at Marble Arch later ahead of meeting senior British politicians next week.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the protests were “counter-productive” to London and “more than 9,000 officers” had been responding to the demonstrations.

He said: “Londoners have suffered too much disruption and the policing operation has been extremely challenging for our over-stretched and under-resourced police.

“I’m extremely concerned about the impact the protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime if they continue any longer. It simply isn’t right to put Londoners’ safety at risk like this.

“My message to all protesters today is clear: you must now let London return to business as usual.”

oxford circus
Police cleared Oxford Circus of protesters on Saturday after six days of demonstrations

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What is Extinction Rebellion?

The co-founder of the protest group invites people to join

Since the group was set up last year, members have shut bridges, poured buckets of fake blood outside Downing Street, blockaded the BBC and stripped semi-naked in Parliament.

It has three core demands for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

Controversially, the group is trying to get as many people arrested as possible.

But critics say they cause unnecessary disruption and waste police time when forces are already overstretched.

Update: Sri Lanka explosions: 160 killed as churches and hotels targeted

Deadly explosions strike across Sri Lanka

At least 160 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, officials say.

At least eight blasts were reported. Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services.

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and a fourth hotel, all in Colombo, were also hit.

A curfew has been imposed from 18:00 to 06:00 local time (12:30-00:30 GMT).

The government also said there would a temporary block on the use of major social media networks.

No group has yet said it was responsible for the attacks.

What’s the latest from the scene?

St Sebastian’s church in Negombo was severely damaged. Images on social media showed its inside, with a shattered ceiling and blood on the pews. Dozens of people are reported to have died there.

There were heavy casualties too at the site of the first blast in St Anthony’s, a hugely popular shrine in Kochchikade, a district of Colombo.

Among those killed in Colombo were at least nine foreign nationals, hospital sources told the BBC.

Map

Hospital sources in Batticaloa said at least 27 people had died there.

A hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand, near the prime minister’s official residence, told AFP the explosion there had ripped through a restaurant, killing at least one person.

A seventh explosion was later reported at a hotel near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, with police sources reporting two deaths. The zoo has been closed.

Priests at St Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade
Priests at St Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, one of the churches targeted

An eighth explosion has been reported in the Colombo district of Dematagoda. Media say it was suicide bomber and that three people were killed. A number of arrests have also reportedly been made.

Colombo resident Usman Ali told the BBC there were massive queues as he joined people trying to donate blood.

He said: “Everyone had just one intention and that was to help the victims of the blast, no matter what religion or race they may be. Each person was helping another out in filling forms.”

No-one was expecting this

Rumours have been reported of more attacks and police have told people to stay inside their houses and remain calm. But there is some element of panic.

There is a heavy military presence in front of all major state buildings. No-one was expecting this, it was a peaceful Sunday morning – everyone was going to Easter services.

I’ve spoken to several priests who were in the church and they were really shocked, as were the police officers.

It was a well-planned, co-ordinated attack but I spoke to the security chief who was there and officials believe it’s too early to say who is behind it.

After the Tamil Tigers were defeated in 2009, Sri Lanka hasn’t really seen this kind of incident.

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What have officials said?

President Maithripala Sirisena has issued a statement calling for people to remain calm and support the authorities in their investigations.

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is chairing an emergency meeting. He said: “I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong.”

Announcing the curfew, Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardane said: “We will take all necessary action against any extremist group that is operating in our country.”

He also said that “all the culprits” had been identified and would be “taken into custody as soon as possible” but gave no further details.

Another minister, Harsha de Silva, described “horrible scenes” at St Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, saying he had seen “many body parts strewn all over”.

Blast damage at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo
Blast damage at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo

A statue of the Virgin Mary broken in St Anthony's Shrine
A statue of the Virgin Mary, broken in St Anthony’s Shrine

Pope Francis, in his traditional Urbi et Orbi speech at the Vatican, condemned the attacks as “such cruel violence” which had targeted Christians celebrating Easter.

Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, told the BBC: “It’s a very difficult and a very sad situation for all of us because we never expected such a thing to happen and especially on Easter Sunday.”

Archbishop of Colombo: ”A very, very sad day for all of us”

UK PM Theresa May tweeted condolences, saying the “acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling”.

US President Donald Trump tweeted “heartfelt condolences” for the “horrible terrorist attacks”.

What’s Sri Lanka’s recent history?

In the years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, there has been some sporadic violence, with members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacking mosques and Muslim-owned properties. That led to a state of emergency being declared in March 2018.

The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.

Religion in Sri Lanka

Theravada Buddhism is Sri Lanka’s biggest religion, making up about 70.2% of the population, according to the most recent census.

It is the religion of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority. It is given primary place in the country’s laws and is singled out in the constitution.

Hindus and Muslims make up 12.6% and 9.7% of the population respectively.

Sri Lanka is also home to about 1.5 million Christians, according to the 2012 census, the vast majority of them Roman Catholic.

Are you in Sri Lanka? Have you been affected by the attacks? Only if it is safe to do so, please contact, haveyoursayonbbc@yahoo.com

Ilkley Moor fire: Arrests made over blaze

Helicopter drops
Helicopters are making water drops on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire to help with damping down and prevent further flames

Arrests have been made after a large fire took hold on moorland in West Yorkshire, police said.

Firefighters tackled a fire covering 25,000 sq m on Ilkley Moor on Saturday, with helicopters making water drops.

Bradford Council reiterated a warning for walkers to stay off the moors as crews were damping down.

The local authority called it a “full multi-agency response” with about 70 firefighters still in attendance on the moor.

Fire on Ilkley Moor
A wide area of Ilkley Moor, pictured here at 22:15 on Saturday, was well alight

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said the fire was in the White Wells area of the hillside, with smoke still clearly visible from the spa town below.

Water jets, beaters and specialist wildfire units are also helping to deal with the aftermath of the fire.

Martin Langan, WYFRS incident commander, said: “We’ve managed to die the flames down but there’s a significant amount of smoke blowing into Ilkley.

“The critical point is around midday when it gets its hottest, that’s where the potential lies for us because that’s when the seat of fire can spark up again.”

Ilkley Moor
Fire crews were called in from across the region to help deal with the blaze

Police closed a section of Hangingstone Road near the Cow and Calf Rocks during the damping down operation.

Mark Hunnebell, who has run the White Wells Spa Cafe for two decades, said his business was evacuated when the “fire started to spread towards us” at 19:00 BST on Saturday.

He said: “We’ve seen some fires here in the past, but I’ve never seen anything like the scale of this one.

“The helicopters have made countless water drops for most of the morning; they’ve been backwards and forwards constantly.”

Ilkley
The fire took hold in the White Wells area above the spa town of Ilkley

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn Twitter that the “awful scenes” on the moor were a reminder “of why we urgently need to tackle climate change”.

Christina Cheney, whose house backs onto the moor near an area known as The Tarn, praised the fire service for keeping residents safe.

“A large swathe of the moor looks quite devastated this morning; we’re lucky our homes were all safe in the end,” she said. “The same can’t be said for so much wildlife.”

The Met Office confirmed that Saturday was the hottest day of the year with 25.5C recorded in Gosport, Hampshire.

Forecasters have said the UK is set for record-breaking temperatures over the rest of the Easter weekend.

Ilkley Moor fire: Crews battle ‘intense’ moorland blaze

Fire crews were called in from across the region to help deal with the blaze

Firefighters have been working through the night to bring a large moorland blaze under control.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said several acres of Ilkley Moor caught fire on Saturday after a day of soaring temperatures.

The fire involves moorland above White Wells in Ilkley. Bradford Council is warning walkers to keep off the moors.

Crews from 10 engines remained at the scene of the blaze overnight to damp down.

Originally there were 14 crews at the scene but WYFRS said it had scaled back its response to the blaze.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the “awful scenes” on the moor were a reminder “of why we urgently need to tackle climate change”.

On Saturday night Martyn Hughes, a watch manager at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service which is assisting WYFRS, tweeted: “The intense heat, steep slopes and rough terrain are causing the fire to spread rapidly whilst we try to get near the flames.”

The Met Office confirmed Saturday was the hottest day of the year with 25.5C recorded in Gosport, Hampshire.

Forecasters have said the UK is set for record-breaking temperatures over the rest of the Easter weekend.

Ilkley Moor
Moorland above White Wells in Ilkley is on fire

In June and July last year, firefighters from 20 different brigades were drafted in to help tackle two huge moorland fires which burnt for several weeks.

Crews spent more than a month battling a huge fire covering 18km sq (6.9 sq miles) at Winter Hill, near Bolton.

The Army was drafted in to help Greater Manchester crews deal with a blaze at Saddleworth Moor in Tameside, 30 miles away from Winter Hill.

Ilkley Moor
Walkers were told to stay off the moors while firefighters tackle the blaze

Sri Lanka explosions: 50 killed as churches and hotels targeted

Deadly explosions strike across Sri Lanka

At least 50 people are reported to have been killed and more than 200 injured in explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

At least six explosions have been reported. Three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa were targeted during Easter services.

The Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels, all in Colombo, were also hit.

Easter Sunday is one of the major feasts in the Christian calendar.

Images on social media showed the inside of one of the churches – St Sebastian’s in Negombo – with a shattered ceiling and blood on the pews.

Sri Lankan media report that foreign tourists may be among the casualties.

Some media outlets have also put the death toll higher and a hospital source in Batticaloa told the BBC the death toll there alone could be 27.

And Reuters quoted a police source as saying more than 50 died in Negombo.

A hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand, near the prime minister’s official residence, told Agence France-Presse the explosion there had ripped through a restaurant, killing at least one person.

‘Horrible scenes’

President Maithripala Sirisena has issued a statement calling for people to remain calm and support the authorities in their investigations.

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is chairing an emergency meeting.

On Twitter, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the attacks appeared to be a “well-co-ordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem and anarchy” and had killed “many innocent people”.

Another minister, Harsha de Silva, described “horrible scenes” at St Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, saying he had seen “many body parts strewn all over”.

No-one has yet said they were responsible for the attacks.

There have been fears that returning fighters from the Islamic State group could pose a threat in the country.

In the years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, there has been some sporadic violence, with members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacking mosques and Muslim-owned properties. That led to a state of emergency being declared in March 2018.

Sri Lanka explosions: 50 killed as churches and hotels targeted

Avengers Endgame: The Marvel Cinematic Universe explained

Avengers: Endgame poster
Why so serious? Perhaps the Avengers: Endgame cast are getting theirs heads round the ins and outs of the MCU

SPOILER ALERT! This article contains details of the plots of some Marvel films, including recent releases.

Marvel sequel Avengers: Endgame hits UK cinemas on 25 April and is widely expected to be the biggest release of 2019.

The film will be the 22nd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began with 2008’s Iron Man.

If you want to watch Endgame, but feel daunted by the sheer size of the MCU, never fear!

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe – or MCU for short – is the shared place where all 22 films featuring the comic book characters are set.

Each tells its own distinct story but also connects with other films in the MCU, to tell an overarching tale. It’s a technique Marvel Comics pioneer Stan Lee also used in his comics.

The MCU is the most successful film franchise of all time , making more than $18.2bn (£13.7bn) to date.

What order should I watch the films in?

We suggest you watch the films in chronological order, rather than the order in which the films were released.

Handily, in the book Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years, Marvel released an official MCU timeline to help you do just that.

We’ve added the films released since that book came out and voila, here is a handy diagram to help you organise your Marvel viewing!

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Just one geeky note on the diagram. Technically the main events of Ant-Man and the Wasp happen before Infinity War, but we suggest you watch it afterwards to fully appreciate the post-credits scenes, which takes place later.

Why did Marvel start with these characters?

In 2007, Marvel was recovering from bankruptcy and had sold off the film rights to some of the company’s most popular characters like the X-Men and Spider-Man.

Marvel still owned the superheroes who form the core Avengers team – Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Captain America – so used the early MCU films to introduce these heroes.

Marvel then brought these characters together for the crossover film Avengers Assemble. You can see a list of all the current members of The Avengers here .

The crossover was planned from the very beginning.

The first MCU film released, Iron Man, included a post-credits scene in which Samuel L Jackson’s super spy Nick Fury gives the first mention of the Avengers.

I don’t have time to watch all the films! What can I skip?

Thanos in scene from Avengers: Infinity War
Make like Thanos and halve the size of the MCU

Endgame is the finale of a series of 22 films.

But, don’t worry, you don’t need to watch every single one to be fully prepared.

Here are the 10 films you could skip and still understand the basics of Endgame.

  • The Incredible Hulk – you’ll learn all you need to know about the key characters here in Avengers Assemble
  • Thor – ditto
  • Thor: The Dark World – you don’t need to see this to get the gist of Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Iron Man 2 – Scarlett Johansson fans may not want to skip this one, as it marks her entry into the MCU
  • Iron Man 3 – Robert Downey Jr is always watchable, but skipping this won’t leave you confused
  • Ant-Man – Scott Lang and his superpowers get introduced all over again in Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange – all you really need to know is this film introduces the Time Stone.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – there’s some nice character development here, but it won’t give you new information on the final battle
  • Black Panther – we hesitate to suggest you skip this Oscar-winning film, as it’s one of the MCU’s best, but other than introducing Wakanda as a location, you’ll get most of the relevant information about the characters introduced here in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War
  • Captain Marvel – again, watch this if you can but if you’re pushed for time, all you really need to know is that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) got her powers from the Space Stone (aka the Tesseract) and she’s going to be important to the final battle in Endgame. Also, the man who put together the Avengers – Nick Fury – lost his eye to an alien disguised as a cat.

What’s so important about Avengers: Endgame?

Avengers 4: Endgame trailer has arrived
Avengers 4: Endgame trailer has arrived

Marvel’s plans for its films are structured in phases, which each one ending with an Avengers crossover movie.

Avengers Assemble spelt the end of Phase One, and Age of Ultron brought Phase Two to a close.

Endgame not only ends Phase 3 but also wraps up the series of 22 films that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is now calling The Infinity Saga .

The new title for the first three phases of the MCU references their overarching story, which sees the gathering of the Infinity Stones (six powerful gems that grant their owner great power) and the war against the mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin). You can read a complete guide to the Infinity Stones here .

Endgame will see the remaining Avengers try and rescue everyone, after villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) got hold of all the Infinity Stones and wiped out half of all living things with a snap of his fingers in last year’s Avengers: Infinity War.

You can see a complete list of everyone who died here .

All bets are off as to who makes it to the finish line in Endgame, as it also coincides with the end of the contracts of some of the biggest Marvel stars.

Chris Evans
Could Avengers: Endgame be the end of the road for Chris Evan’s Captain America?

It’s been widely reported that Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man) have come to the end of their contracts.

There’s also been speculation that their Marvel co-stars Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romonova/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk) have also reached the end of their tenure at the studio.

Though a solo Black Widow film is reported to be in the works, it could be a prequel, so is no guarantee Johansson’s character survives.

One thing is for sure though – whatever happens, it will take time for Endgame’s story to unfold.

It’s the longest entry in the MCU so far, clocking in at three hours and two minutes. That’s the same length as the first instalment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, An Unexpected Journey (2012).

What’s the future of the MCU?

Scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron
Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), probably reacting to rumours that one of the core Avengers team might not make it through Endgame alive

We can expect a major shake-up of the MCU, in the wake of Endgame.

Phase Four begins with the release of Spider-Man: Far from Home on July 5 2019.

According to producer Amy Pascal, the film “will start a few minutes after Avengers 4 wraps as a story”.

Tom Holland’s Spidey was one of many heroes wiped out in Thanos’s Snap in Infinity War, but given his starring role in this film, we can expect he’ll be alive and well before the Endgame credits roll.

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New films involving other supposedly dead characters have also been confirmed for Phase Four.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has confirmed Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will return for a sequel at “some point in the future”.

Chadwick Boseman is also likely to recover from his disintegration in time for Black Panther 2.

We also know a third Guardians of the Galaxy film has been confirmed, after Disney re-hired director James Gunn , , but we don’t know which Guardians will return for it. At the end of Infinity War, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket and Karen Gillan’s Nebula were the only survivors from that franchise.

Feige has also hinted that Phase Four could include a solo sequel for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel .

Also in development are new films involving super-powered beings called the Eternals , and martial artist superhero Shang-Chi .

Which Marvel characters aren’t in the MCU?

Sophie Turner Playing Jean Grey in the X-Men
Dark Phoenix, which stars Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner, is likely to be the last time the X-Men appear outside the MCU

You might be confused about why some Marvel characters appear in films that don’t connect to the MCU.

The reason for this is actually simple.

Long before Marvel Studios existed, Marvel Entertainment had sold the rights to some of its characters to other filmmakers.

Spider-Man was sold to Sony. The studio made a Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, and soon afterwards rebooted the franchise less successfully with Andrew Garfield as the webslinger.

However, Sony and Marvel have now agreed a partnership that allows Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to appear in MCU films, while Sony retains the rights to the character.

Sony also owned the rights to Ghost Rider, and made two films about him starring Nicolas Cage, until the rights reverted back to Marvel in 2013.

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage, possibly hoping some strategically placed Ghost Rider branding might inspire Marvel bosses to greenlight a new film

The Fantastic Four series and the X-Men were sold to 20th Century Fox, though Marvel Studios expect to regain the rights to both properties this year due to a merger between Disney and Fox . The merger means Marvel could introduce these characters into the MCU in future films.

Fox also made the Deadpool movies, starring Ryan Reynolds, which sit firmly outside the MCU.

It’s not clear what the future holds for this franchise, as the foul-mouthed, pansexual superhero is certainly not the most family friendly character.

However, the Deadpool films were a commercial success and star Ryan Reynolds has hinted on social media that he’d like there to be a future for the character with Disney.

Fox also owned the rights to Daredevil, in 2003 producing a film starring Ben Affleck, and the 2005 spin-off film Elektra, before the rights reverted back to Marvel.

Universal’s Hulk films and New Line Cinema’s Blade Films were also the result of deals struck before the rights to those characters reverted back to Marvel, and don’t belong within the MCU.

I’ve seen all the MCU films. What else can I watch?

Clark Gregg
Clark Gregg looks very pleased that his character got resurrected, so he can keep cashing those Marvel cheques

Don’t worry. There are plenty of TV shows set in the MCU to keep you going.

  • Agent Carter – follow the adventures of Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter as she reprises her role from the MCU films in this series, which ran from 2015-16.
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – the show that proves Avengers Assemble wasn’t the end for Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).
  • Inhumans – this show ran on the US network ABC for one series. It centred around the Inhumans – an alien race with superpowers that gets in contact with Earth.
  • Runaways – this show, based on the comics of the same name, is on streaming service Hulu. It follows six teenagers who discover their parents are villains.
  • Cloak and Dagger – this series about a romance between two super-powered teenagers is on the ABC-owned Freeform network. It’s based on characters who first appeared in the Spectacular Spider-Man Comics.
  • The Netflix Marvel TV shows – Marvel’s deal with Netflix has now come to an end,but you can still enjoy the edgy adventures of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Punisher on the streaming service. Ensemble show The Defenders is a real highlight. Though ostensibly set in the MCU, these shows have a darker tone and don’t actually connect with any of the films.

If you’ve now become a die-hard fan, and really want to immerse yourself in the MCU, Digital Spy has put together a complete chronological timeline of all the films and TV shows .

You could also watch the original Marvel movie notorious 80s flop Howard the Duck.

The feathered superhero will soon be starring in one of four Marvel Television animated series for adults, so consider this essential research.

Disney has also announced plans for several new Marvel TV series,  , including one based on Thor’s adopted brother Loki, on their new streaming service, Disney+, so there’ll be plenty more Marvel content to watch in future.

Ukraine election: Voters to choose between comic and tycoon

Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky held a long-awaited head-to-head televised debate at Kiev’s Olympic stadium

Ukrainians will head to the polls shortly in a run-off election to pick the country’s next president.

Voters face a stark choice between tycoon Petro Poroshenko, the incumbent president, and television comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, new to politics.

The TV celebrity is favourite in the polls, having dominated the first round of voting three weeks ago when 39 candidates were on the ticket.

Poll stations will open 08:00 local (05:00 GMT) and close 12 hours later.

A court in the capital, Kiev, has rejected a lawsuit calling for Mr Zelensky to be barred from standing.

A man had complained that the distribution of free tickets for a presidential debate by Volodymyr Zelensky’s candidacy amounted to bribery.

On Friday the two candidates appeared at Kiev’s Olympic stadium to debate for the first time.

The televised event was their first face-off after an usual campaign where Mr Zelensky has primarily used social media to communicate with the voting public.

A woman sets up a voting station in Kiev
Image captionThe country prepared on Saturday, during a day of silence when last-minute campaigning is prohibited

The winner of Sunday’s vote will be elected for a five-year term as president.

The position holds significant powers over the security, defence and foreign policy of the country.

Who are the candidates?

In Ukraine Mr Zelensky, 41, is best known for starring in a political satirical drama called Servant of the People.

In it he plays a teacher who accidentally becomes Ukrainian president after his rant about the nation’s politics goes viral on social media.

He is now running under a political party with the same name as his show.

The comedian who could be president

With no previous political experience, his campaign has focused on his difference to others rather than on any concrete policy ideas.

Despite this, he won the first round with more than 30% of the vote – almost double what Mr Poroshenko got when he finished in second place with 15.95%.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) and his electoral opponent Volodymyr Zelensky
President Poroshenko (left) called Mr Zelensky’s (right) first-round victory a “harsh lesson”

The incumbent president, who has been in power since 2014, described the result as a “harsh lesson”.

Mr Poroshenko, 53, is a billionaire who made his fortune primarily through his confectionery and TV businesses.

He was elected after an uprising overthrew the country’s previous, pro-Russian government.

Poroshenko supporters
Mr Poroshenko’s supporters appeared to outnumber those of his rival on Friday

The stadium debate between the candidates on Friday was much-anticipated in Ukraine, after the comedian challenged the president to the unconventional event.

After his acceptance, there was a public disagreement between the pair over when it would be held.

Last week, Mr Poroshenko turned up and debated an empty podium, after his opponent was absent at the date he suggested.

The choice Ukrainians are facing is whether to stick to what they’ve had for the last five years in Petro Poroshenko or take a leap into the unknown with the comedian candidate, Volodomyr Zelenksy.

Mr Zelensky is a well-known entertainer but quite what, if anything, he stands for politically has not become clear during the election campaign.

He has however demonstrated that he can act presidential – but only by playing the part in a TV series.

Ukraine is fighting a war against Russian-backed forces in its east and President Poroshenko has repeatedly stressed the need for someone with political experience.

Unfortunately for him, all the surveys show that Ukrainians are fed up their politicians who are widely regarded as corrupt and in the pockets of rich oligarchs.

Flag Day celebration in Kiev, 23 Aug 18

Getty Images Ukraine key facts

  • Population: 43.9m
  • GDP per capita:$8,800
  • GDP growth:2.5%
  • Ethnic Ukrainians (est):78%
  • Ethnic Russians (est.):17%
  • Unemployment (est.):9.2%

Source: CIA World Factbook

Theresa May says UK will stand up for religious freedom

Theresa May says the UK “must stand up for the right of everyone” to practise their faith in peace.

In her Easter message, the prime minister said she will spend her time “giving thanks in church”, but for many Christians “such simple acts of faith can bring huge danger”.

About 245 million Christians worldwide are estimated to be facing persecution.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn compared Jesus’ experiences to the challenges currently facing some refugees.

Mrs May, a vicar’s daughter and practising Christian, said: “Churches have been attacked. Christians murdered. Families forced to flee their homes.

That is why the government has launched a global review into the persecution of Christians.

“We must stand up for the right of everyone, no matter what their religion, to practise their faith in peace.”

The government review, led by the Bishop of Truro, was launched in December to look into how much help the UK gives persecuted Christians.

Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi, a Christian, faced death threats after being acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan

In the Labour leader’s Easter message, Mr Corbyn said the experiences of Jesus as a refugee were “still familiar to us today”.

He said Jesus was “a refugee whose parents were forced to flee their home”, who went on to “know what it was to be ostracised, rejected and tortured”.

He added: “The refugee crisis is a moral test. Jesus taught us to respect refugees.”

Mr Corbyn also used his message to criticise the government for failing to take in child refugees, as well as Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s handling of the Channel migrant crossings over the winter.

He said: “In Britain, we have a proud history of providing a safe refuge to those in need. But this government refuses to meet our legal obligations to child refugees in Europe as required by the Dubs Amendment.”

The Dubs amendment, designed by the Labour peer and former child refugee Lord Dubs, was a scheme which aimed to let unaccompanied migrant children into the UK – but was ended by the government in 2017.

The Home Office responded by saying that the UK had provided protection to over 34,500 children since the start of 2010 and the government was “determined to deliver on its commitment” to relocating 480 children under the ‘Dubs amendment’.

Mr Corbyn went on: “At the end of last year as refugees tried to cross the Channel, Sajid Javid threatened to deploy the Navy.

“But in response, the Bishop of Dover said ‘it is crucial that we all remember we are dealing with human beings here’.”

The Labour leader added that “we can learn from Christian values” with churches leading the way in offering support to refugees.

ENA: The elite French school that trains presidents

ENA in Strasbourg is an incubator for France’s top talent

For France’s intellectual crème de la crème a place at the elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) is coveted above all others.

The school has long selected and trained leaders, including former presidents François Hollande and Jacques Chirac, Orange CEO Stéphane Richard and foreign presidents.

Many try repeatedly to pass ENA’s notoriously tough entrance exams, so desperate are they to get in.

But the Strasbourg school’s most powerful ex-pupil is reportedly turning against it.

Determined to quell the gilets jaunes (“yellow vest”) protest movement, President Emmanuel Macron has proposed abolishing ENA, according to the text of an upcoming speech leaked to French media.

If we want to build a society of equal opportunity and national excellence, we must reset the rules for recruitment, careers and access to the upper echelons of the civil service,” he is quoted as saying.

“That’s why we will change the system of training, selection and career development by suppressing ENA and several other institutions.”

The president’s office has declined to comment on the leaked text.

French media say it was to be in his address to the nation marking the conclusion of a two-month great debate. But the speech was postponed because of the Notre-Dame fire.

Emmanuel Macron and then-president Hollande, 8 Dec 14
ENA alumni: Emmanuel Macron (L) served as economy minister under then-president Hollande (2014 pic)

What is ENA?

It was established in 1945 by then French President Charles de Gaulle, in the immediate aftermath of World War Two.

It was created “with a spirit of reconstructing France and renovating the state”, said anthropologist Irène Bellier of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.

“The ideology was you’d raise a group of people capable of acting in the public interest.”

Prior to its creation, each ministry had its own hiring process and standards, resulting in closed networks that almost exclusively favoured the upper class.

ENA hoped to attract “more people from the provinces, fewer Parisians, fewer bourgeois – social democratisation”, explained Prof Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans, a political scientist who has studied ENA extensively and now works with it.

But while designed as a meritocracy, research shows that ENA students’ parents are often senior civil servants themselves or CEOs. Very few come from working-class backgrounds.

“It’s the school of the elite,” Mr Eymeri-Douzans said.

ENA students- file pic, 14 Jan 13
Alumni of ENA are known as “énarques” in French

Who attends the school?

They tend to be in their mid- to late-20s, with previous qualifications from other higher-education institutes, including other elite French “grandes ecoles”.

Some students enter ENA as postgraduates, while others come from lower-level civil service jobs or from other professions.

According to experts, less than a third of its intake are women.

“So many ministers, presidents, prime ministers of France are graduates. Many of the CEOs of major French companies are also alumni, even though it wasn’t meant for that,” said Mr Eymeri-Douzans.

He stressed that wealth is not the defining trope of ENA students.

“The problem is culture… It is a small world of bourgeois families. If you are new money, full of money but with no culture, no education, you won’t be there.”

A picture shows the building of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (National School of Administration) (ENA) at night on January 14, 2013 in Strasbourg, eastern France.

So how do you get in?

Aspiring students have to pass notoriously difficult entrance exams.

Hundreds apply each year, but only around 10% make the final cut, according to Mr Eymeri-Douzans.

The three-part admissions system has both written and oral components that test candidates on their knowledge of issues including economy, law and international relations.

The most dreaded of the exams is the “grand oral”- a test in front of a jury, in which candidates are asked to talk about a particular topic, which could be anything from technology or politics to a genre of film.

“That is one of the most intense moments of this process… They have to acquire a lot of knowledge, a lot, a lot, a lot,” said Ms Bellier.

“You need to show yourself, it’s kind of performing, but they are not actors. The tension is very high.”

People often train for years for the exams.

Baccalaureat, Strasbourg, 18 Jun 18
Doing well in the baccalaureat is the first hurdle for students hoping to reach ENA

What happens next?

Those who make it through the exams split their time between training and internships.

At the end of the course, they are given a ranking which dictates which jobs they are able to apply for.

Those with top marks can look at coveted positions in France’s Council of State, Financial Inspectorate and Court of Auditors, while the less outstanding students enter less prestigious civil service jobs.

While some say the rigorous training system puts the most qualified people in positions of power, others say it is an archaic institution that keeps ordinary people out of power.

For now, its fate rests in the hands of its former pupil.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said he ‘wants to compete’ after watching his team beat Southampton at St James’s Park.

Benitez pleased with ‘important’ Magpies win

Ayoze Perez made the difference, scoring all three goals as they saw off a spirited second-half performance from the Saints.

Benitez, who is out of contract in the summer, said nothing had changed in regard to his job situation and suggested he still needs assurances before deciding his future.

We are in the same position as we were before,” he said. “When I came here, I could see the potential of the club to be challenging, certainly for seventh to 10th in the table but looking higher.

“But when you analyse the transfer fees and wage bills of other teams, we’re not competing.

“I am the manager until 30 June. We can see the potential. When you see the teams between seventh and 15th, we have to compete with them.”

Benitez suggested earlier in the week that he wanted, to manage in the Champions League again, which will leave Newcastle fans nervous that he will not renew his contract when it expires.

For now though, this win propelled Newcastle into 12th place in the Premier League table, 10 points above the relegation zone and almost certainly safe for another season.

“Mathematically, we will have to wait and see what happens,” Benitez said. “But I think we will be safe.”

For Southampton, an improved second-half performance yielded only substitute Mario Lemina’s goal and they sit just five points above Cardiff in 18th with four games to play.

For now though, this win propelled Newcastle into 12th place in the Premier League table, 10 points above the relegation zone and almost certainly safe for another season.

“Mathematically, we will have to wait and see what happens,” Benitez said. “But I think we will be safe.”

For Southampton, an improved second-half performance yielded only substitute Mario Lemina’s goal and they sit just five points above Cardiff in 18th with four games to play.

Battle to stay up
Date Cardiff fixtures Brighton fixtures Southampton fixtures
21 April Liverpool (H)
23 April Tottenham (A) Watford (A)
27 April Fulham (A) Newcastle (H) Bournemouth (H)
4 May Crystal Palace (H) West Ham (A)
5 May Arsenal (A)
12 May Man Utd (A) Man City (H) Huddersfield (H)

Clinical Perez on fire for Newcastle

Perez had scored four in his last seven homes games as well as the winner at Leicester last weekend and he continued his fine run of form with a superbly taken hat-trick.

His first was a perfectly placed clipped shot, kissing the inside of the far post after Isaac Hayden had won the ball back in midfield.

He followed that up two minutes later as his determination to meet Salomon Rondon’s low cross ahead of Ryan Bertrand bought him and his team a second goal.

After Newcastle had toiled in the second half, he completed his hat-trick with just four minutes left, poaching a close range header after Matt Ritchie had bravely dived in to win a rushed Southampton clearance.

Perez has now got 10 Premier League goals this season, the first Newcastle player to do so since Georginio Wijnaldum in 2015-16.

Perez’s burgeoning confidence crowned a strong performance from Newcastle who, after a 10th place finish last season, are chasing down the top half of the table once again.

Benitez has done a remarkable job on limited resources but, with Premier League survival almost certainly secured, it is surely imperative that they keep hold of him and back him significantly if this club is going to return to where it feel it belongs, challenging at the higher end of the table.

Saints fail to take their chances

Saints didn’t deserve a point – Hasenhuttl

Saints didn’t deserve a point – Hasenhuttl

Southampton had won four of their previous six games in the Premier League but it took time for them to warm up in the Easter sunshine at St James’ Park.

In a disappointing first-half performance, they were barely involved as Newcastle’s full-pitch pressing game squeezed the life out of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

Indeed, it could have been worse for the Saints, had referee Anthony Taylor not showed leniency when last-man James Ward-Prowse cynically took out Miguel Almiron.

Tactical changes at half-time however gave them a boost and substitute Mario Lemina took his opening superbly, slotting home after fellow sub Stuart Armstrong’s lay-off.

Maya Yoshida ought to have levelled matters but he somehow volleyed over with the goal at his mercy midway through the second half. The Japanese defender should also have scored in injury time but his header was brilliantly turned aside by Martin Dubravka.

Maya Yoshida has not scored since December 2017 and missed some great chances for Southampton

Despite the improvement, it’s a reality check for Hasenhuttl’s team who are not mathematically safe and may require points from their remaining games to ensure Premier League survival.

Man of the match: Ayoze Perez (Newcastle)

Perez scored all three of his shots and is the first Newcastle player to get a hat-trick since Dwight Gayle in December 2016

‘We’re still far away’ – what they said:

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez: “The main thing was to win. I’m really proud of this group of players for working so hard.

“Ayoze has to be consistent but he is capable of doing this kind of thing [scoring hat-tricks] and has the quality.”

On his own future: “Today, we will enjoy it. In an ideal world I want to compete for something. That’s the main thing. If you analyse the transfer fee and wage bill, it’s far away.

“We’ll keep preparing the team and see.”

Newcastle’s hat-trick hero Ayoze Perez: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to get three goals and get three important points. I need to thank my team-mates for the way we are playing and I am very proud of myself for the hat-trick.

“It’s been a couple of months that are very important for us. We’ve done very well, We’ve got great results and now that we’re safe we’re going to start looking forward and up and finish even better.”

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: “The first half was too bad so we didn’t deserve to get anything. If you start like that and are 2-0 down at half-time, it’s hard to come back.

“Changing shape caused more problems for Newcastle. They didn’t have a lot of chances in the second half, apart from hitting the post, which was lucky.

“We have to be sharper and more aggressive. We know we are not safe – 40 points is the reason why it’s a crucial game on Tuesday. We need to be concentrated and hard working.”

Saints join City and Spurs in goal record – the stats

  • This was Newcastle’s sixth home Premier League win of 2019 – only Man City (8) and Arsenal (7) have won more.
  • Southampton have lost three of their last four away Premier League games (W1 D0 L3), having lost just one of their first four away matches under Ralph Hasenhuttl (W2 D2 L1).
  • Ayoze Perez’s hat-trick was Newcastle’s first in the Premier League since October 2015, when Georginio Wijnaldum scored four times against Norwich City.
  • Ayoze Perez has scored 10 Premier League goals this season – his best tally in a single top-flight season for Newcastle United.
  • Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at St James’ Park.
  • Salomon Rondon has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Newcastle player this season (15: 9 goals, 6 assists).
  • Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn conceded a Premier League hat-trick 25 years and 11 days after his father Bryan Gunn conceded one in the Premier League against Southampton in April 1994, with Matt Le Tissier scoring a treble for the Saints that day.
  • Southampton have scored 12 Premier League goals from outside the box this season, a joint high along with Man City and Spurs.

What’s next?

Southampton face Watford on Tuesday, 23 April at Vicarage Road (19:45 BST) while Newcastle travel to Brighton on Saturday, 27 April (17:30 BST).

US arrests ‘member of border militia’ in New Mexico

Members of the United Constitutional Patriots have been seen patrolling with weapons

US authorities have arrested an alleged member of a militia that has been stopping migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was detained in New Mexico as a felon in possession of a weapon.

It comes just days after a video emerged, of militia members detaining dozens of migrants in the desert.

The group, United Constitutional Patriots, has been condemned by civil rights groups and local officials.

“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”

While his statement said Mr Hopkins had been arrested as a felon, it did not specify what the underlying conviction had been.

The alleged militia member is expected to appear in court on Monday.

US arrests 'member of border militia' in New Mexico
Five numbers that explain US border crisis

United Constitutional Patriots, a small volunteer group, argues it is helping US Border Patrol to deal with a surge in migrants crossing America’s southern border. It is one of several militias operating in the region.

As details of this week’s latest video emerged, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter that “menacing or threatening migrant families and asylum seekers is absolutely unacceptable and must cease”.

US Customs and Border Protection have previously said they are opposed to civilians patrolling the border in search of illegal crossers.

Lyra McKee: Killing has led to ‘palpable change’ in community sentiment towards policing

PSNI released CCTV footage following Lyra’s murder

The killing of journalist Lyra McKee has led to a “palpable change” in community sentiment in support of policing, a senior detective has said.

Ms McKee, 29, was shot while observing rioting in Londonderry’s Creggan estate in Northern Ireland on Thursday night.

Two teenage men, aged 18 and 19, have been arrested and are being held under the Terrorism Act.

On Saturday, Det Supt Jason Murphy, who is leading the investigation, urged people to come forward.

He said there was a sense that what had happened to Ms McKee had marked a “real sea change”.

Det Supt Murphy also warned that he had a broader concern about a “new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks”.

“And that is very worrying for me,” he added.

“Yesterday, my officers were on the ground and we identified a palpable change in community sentiment, particularly the community sentiment towards policing,” he added.

“Yesterday we realised that the vast majority of communities across the whole of Northern Ireland support policing and support police and they support the peace process.

“What we saw yesterday was the visible demonstration of that within the Creggan community. A community that has been very frightened for a long time and for a large part has been held to ransom by terrorist organisations that claims to represent them.”

Journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was shot during rioting in Londonderry

Ms McKee was standing near a police 4×4 vehicle with other journalists when she was shot on Thursday night.

CCTV captured her final moments in the crowd and mobile phone footage showed the suspected gunman.

In the video, the masked attacker leans from behind cover and appears to fire shots towards police and onlookers.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said a gunman fired shots towards police officers at about 23:00 BST on Thursday.

In a Facebook post, political party Saoradh – a group which police say are closely aligned to the New IRA – sought to justify violence on the night.

They said Ms McKee was killed “accidentally” by a “volunteer” after the PSNI raided houses in Derry.

Presentational grey line

Who are the New IRA?

The New IRA was formed in 2012 after a number of dissident republican organisations said they were unifying under one leadership and is believed to be the largest dissident republican organisation.

Saoradh, which means liberation in Irish, is a political group and has the support of prisoners from the dissident group referred to as the New IRA in Maghaberry and Portlaoise prisons.

It was founded in 2016.

According to its constitution, Saoradh’s objective is to “effect an end to Britain’s illegal occupation of the six counties” and establish a 32-county Irish Socialist Republic.

The party has been highly critical of Sinn Féin in the past, with its chairman describing members as “false prophets who have been defeated and consumed by the very system they claim to oppose”.

Presentational grey line

There has been widespread condemnation of the killing.

At a vigil in Derry on Friday, Ms McKee’s partner, Sara Canning, described her as a “tireless advocate and activist” for the LGBT community.

Sara Canning speaking at the vigil for her partner Lyra McKee in Londonderry
Sara Canning (centre) was “planning to grow old” with her partner Lyra McKee

Ms Canning said her partner’s dreams had been “snuffed out by a single barbaric act” and she had been left without “the woman I was planning to grow old with”.

“The senseless murder of Lyra McKee has left a family without a beloved daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great-aunt; so many friends without their confidante,” added Ms Canning.

“We are all poorer for the loss of Lyra.”

Secretary of State Karen Bradley made a private visit to Londonderry to sign the book of condolence for Ms McKee.

Ms McKee’s killing came 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed in Northern Ireland.

The 1998 peace deal marked the end in the region of decades of violent conflict – known as the Troubles – involving republicans and loyalists during which about 3,600 people are estimated to have died.

The good Friday agreement, was the result of intense negotiations involving the UK and Irish governments and Northern Ireland’s political parties.

Figures from across the political divide, including Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster, were among the hundreds of people to attend the vigil.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald and Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster at the vigil in Londonderry
Colum Eastwood, Naomi Long, Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster were among political leaders at a vigil in Derry

One of Ms McKee’s close friends, Kathleen Bradley, told the BBC: “Lyra was a voice – she wasn’t afraid to stand up and hold her view.

“Lyra managed to get Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster into Creggan [for the vigil] without any high security or barricades.

‘Power of Lyra’

“Those politicians stood amongst us today and that really is the power of Lyra.”

Other leading world figures united to condemn Ms McKee’s killing.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said Ms McKee “changed lives” as a journalist and an activist and would continue to do so.

“We stand with you as strong as your walls and for as long as they stand,” he added.

“This was an attack not just on one citizen – it was an attack on all of us, our nation and our freedoms.”

Former US President Bill Clinton said he was “heartbroken”.

Irish President Michael D Higgins signed a condolence book at Belfast City Hall and said there was “outrage” in Ireland.

“The loss of a journalist at any time in any part of the world is an attack on truth itself,” he said.

“The circumstances in which it happened – the firing on a police force that are seeking to defend the peace process – cannot be condoned by anybody.”

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted that Ms McKee’s killing was a “reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland”.

“We must all work to preserve the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

Technology used to trace prison mobiles to exact cells

Prison staff are using technology to find and seize phones used illegally by inmates in England and Wales.

New detection kits can narrow a phone’s location down to a single jail cell, the Ministry of Justice said.

Staff get an alert when a phone is detected, which helps them track inmates organising drug smuggling or contacting criminals on the outside.

After a six-month trial at one jail, the kits will now be used at four more. The locations are not being revealed.

The real-time alerts are shown on a digital heat map which identifies the strength of the signal.

The results can be used as evidence in police investigations and can lead to arrests, the MoJ said.

‘One step ahead’

Justice Secretary David Gauke said use of the technology was “vital” to make prisons places of “safety and rehabilitation”.

“As criminals look for new ways to smuggle contraband into prisons, it is vital that we stay one step ahead, and this kind of technology will help prevent them operating from their cells,” he added.

At least 15,000 mobile phones or SIM cards were confiscated in English and Welsh prisons in 2017  – equivalent to one for every six inmates.

This new technology is not used to block illegal mobiles remotely.

Under the Serious Crime Act 2015 , all prison governors in England and Wales can seek a court order to completely remove a mobile or sim from a network.

In Scotland, prison authorities can use technology to block phones remotely

before seeking to block them from a network.

Newspaper headlines: Labour Brexit ‘fudge’ and Africa royal role

Observer front page 21/04/19
The Observer leads on warnings from Labour’s deputy leader that the party will never defeat Nigel Farage if it continues to “sit on the fence” over Brexit and offers only “mealy-mouthed” support for a second referendum. Writing in the paper, Tom Watson says Labour will lose out to Mr Farage’s new Brexit Party in May’s European elections if it continues to give the impression that “we half agree with him”.

Mail on Sunday front page 21/04/19
Mr Farage’s new party also poses a threat to the Conservatives, according to the Mail on Sunday. A survey by the newspaper of 781 Tory councillors has found that 40% are planning to vote for the Brexit Party in May’s European elections, in protest at the prime minister’s failure to conclude the UK’s exit from the EU. The poll also found that three-quarters of Theresa May’s own councillors want her to resign, revealing what the paper describes as “the immense scale of the grassroots revolt against her”.

Sunday Telegraph front page 21/04/19
The Sunday Telegraph covers another problem for the Conservative party on its front page – the £56bn HS2 project. The paper says Tory voters are “repulsed” by the high-speed rail line and would be more likely to support a leadership contender who pledged to scrap it, according to a secret memo circulating among senior figures in the party. The briefing, produced by a veteran US pollster, says Conservative supporters view the rail line as an “expensive extravagance”, the paper reports.

Sunday Express front page
An Easter message from the prime minister features on the front page of the Sunday Express, with Theresa May – the daughter of a Church of England vicar – vowing to tackle the persecution of Christians around the world. It comes as church leaders warn that faith is under “unprecedented siege”, including from Islamic State and other extremist groups, the paper reports.

Sunday Times front page 21/04/19
Away from politics, the Sunday Times reports that courtiers have drawn up plans to give the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a major international job that could see them move abroad after the birth of their child. The paper says the “bespoke” role will probably be in Africa and will combine Commonwealth and charity work, as well as promoting Britain.

Sunday People front page 21/04/19
Meanwhile, the Sunday People says a charity backed by Prince Harry has saved the lives of 11 soldiers with PTSD in just nine months. The All Call Signs support group for suicidal veterans has “deeply impressed” Prince Harry and he has given it his “enthusiastic backing”. The group uses social media to organise volunteer searches of areas where veterans have gone missing.

The Star front page 21/04/19
The Daily Star claims convicted former TV star Rolf Harris has made a bid to clear his name by gathering “dirt” on his victims. The paper says Harris has used a private investigator “to try to smear accusers’ reputations”.

Sunday Mirror front page 21/04/19
Adele’s divorce from her husband of three years is the lead story for the Sunday Mirror. Friends have told the paper that the pair split because they prefer to live on opposite sides of the Atlantic – with the singer loving life in LA and her husband, charity boss Simon Konecki, preferring their home in Britain.

Libya crisis: Clashes erupt south of capital Tripoli


A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) fires a truck-mounted gun during clashes
Libya’s UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Heavy fighting has erupted south of Tripoli after Libya’s UN-backed government announced a counter-offensive against insurgent forces.

It comes after days of limited advances by either side, in clashes which have killed 220 people.

Soldiers loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar launched an attack earlier this month with the aim of taking Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serra has condemned the “silence” of his international allies amid the fighting.

Details of progress by both sides was not immediately clear.

Mr Serra’s Government of National Accord says it has carried out seven air strikes on areas held by Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

The group has been advancing on the city from multiple directions, and says it has taken Tripoli’s international airport.

The UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Haftar’s forces.

Libyan fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) run as they fire their guns during clashes
Soldiers loyal to the Tripoli government have been defending the capital since Gen Haftar began an assault on 4 April

Gen Haftar, a former army officer, was appointed chief of the LNA in 2015 under an earlier, internationally recognised government based in Tobruk..

He has support from Egypt, Russia and the UAE.

The White House says President Trump has spoken to Gen Haftar  , suggesting the US may also endorse a new government under his command.

General Khalifa Haftar
Gen Haftar is fighting to unseat the UN-backed government

Both America and Russia have refused to support a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

An LNA spokesperson told AFP news agency: “We have won the political battle and we have convinced the world that the armed forces are fighting terrorism.”

Gen Haftar has support from several foreign powers, who see him as a potentially stabilising force in the chaos of post-revolution Libya, BBC Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher reports.

Some Libyans feel the same way, but others see him as just another warlord bent on winning power by force, our editor.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

There was no intention to hurt anyone’ says Billy Vunipola on social media row

Billy Vunipola played down more hostile reaction to him following his liking of Israel Folau’s social media tirade against sinners after helping Saracens into next month’s final.

The England No 8, who was booed by Munster fans, had finished an interview having been named man of the match when he was confronted by a spectator who gestured to Vunipola and tried, unsuccessfully, to draw him into an argument.

“I believe what I believe in and there was no intention to hurt anyone,” said Vunipola. “Behind closed doors this week, I felt a lot of love and kindness. I am very grateful to be part of this team and I hope we can keep up what we are doing.

“We were grateful to be in another semi-final and when you play in these matches you have to fight as hard as you can.

“A few of the boys were probably not as fit as they would have liked, including my brother and Brad [Barritt], but everyone stepped up.”

The Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, said he believed the affair had brought a squad renowned for being tight-knit even closer.

“This group is pretty good when it has its back to the wall,” he said. “We have all been through a lot. I did not see what happened with Billy at the end so I will not comment on it.

“What you could see was that the group was tight and together. It was a great squad effort and Billy was part of it. The club dealt with the matter decisively, quickly and fairly.

“We played really well. The scoreboard at half-time said 12-9 but it did not feel like that. The players understood that it did not reflect how good they had been. We were in control, but you know that in a match like this it is a wearing-down process. These matches take a long time to win.”

Munster had drawn level just before the interval, but they never led and at one point in the second-half trailed by 16 points on their way to a third successive defeat at this stage in the tournament.

“We were beaten by the better side on the day,” said the Munster head coach, Johann van Graan. “They turned the screws on us at the start of the second half. I could not fault our effort. We gave it all we had and we’ll be back.”

Van Graan was asked about the incident involving Vunipola after the end of the match but was not allowed to answer it after an intervention by the club’s media officer on the grounds that it had not been established as a fact that the spectator involved was a Munster supporter.

Regarding the spectator, a European Professional Club Rugby spokesman said: “EPCR does not condone the entry of a spectator to the field of play. Following the regrettable incident at the Ricoh Arena, the spectator in question is currently being detained by the stadium authorities.”

A spectator confronts Billy Vunipola after the game. Munster’s media officer has argued the man was not clearly a fan of the Irish side.
A spectator confronts Billy Vunipola after the game. Munster’s media officer has argued the man was not clearly a fan of the Irish side.

Syria war: Kosovo brings back 110 citizens including jihadists

Image shows a young Kosovar child looking at Kosovar police officers
The group mostly included young children and their mothers

Kosovo has brought back 110 of its citizens from Syria, mostly mothers and their children but also several jihadist fighters.

The group contained 74 children, 32 women and four men suspected of fighting for the Islamic State group (IS) who were arrested on arrival.

They flew back with the help of the US military before police escorted them to an army barracks near Pristina.

The issue of repatriations has come to the fore since the collapse of IS.

“An important and sensitive operation was organised in which the government of Kosovo, with the help of the [US], has returned 110 of its citizens from Syria,” Kosovo’s Justice Minister, Abelard Tahiri, said on Saturday.

“We will not stop before bringing every citizen… back to their country and anyone that has committed any crime or was part of these terrorist organisations will face justice,” he added.

Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is 90% Muslim.

More than 300 of its citizens have travelled to Syria since 2012, according to government figures. This number includes 70 men who were killed fighting alongside jihadist groups, Reuters news agency reports.

Police say 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and 8 children still remain in conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.

A map of the world showing where IS children are from
A map showing the verified origin countries of children who travelled to Iraq or Syria

In recent months, a number of women have come forward to say they want to return to their home countries, including the UK, US and France, so they could raise their children in peace.

In response, the UK and US have barred two mothers from returning.

Shamima Begum, who joined IS in Syria aged 15, begged to return home shortly before giving birth to a son, but the UK government refused to let her back.

She did not renounce her allegiance to IS and the government removed her citizenship. There was much sympathy for her plight when her baby died in March.

Meanwhile, that same month, France brought back five young children  of jihadist fighters.

The recent repatriations come weeks after some IS militants reportedly fled into the desert from Baghuz – their last stronghold.

The area was declared “freed” by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on 23 March.

Although the declaration marked the last territorial victory over the group’s “caliphate”, experts warn it does not mean the end of IS or its ideology.

In pictures: Wearing fancy dress for big yams in Nigeria

It has been one big party this week in the town of Arondizuogu in southern Nigeria, with feasting and parades to give thanks for the last harvest and to usher in the new planting season.

A man in a fake beard and video camera in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

The Ikeji Festival, which last for seven days, brings together many thousands of ethnic Igbo people, from far and wide, to the town in Imo state.

Man in a traditional masquerade costume along with a bell ringer in the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

During the festivities, some men are authorised by secret cultural Igbo societies to dress up as ancestral spirits in what is called a masquerade.

They are accompanied by a bell bearer, who explains to the crowds the messages the spirit world wishes to pass on – usually blessings for a bountiful harvest to come.

A man in a masquerade costume performing in the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

The masked figures perform for the crowds as they go down the streets – and as part of the rituals, chickens and goats are sacrificed to the ancestors to encourage them to grant their blessings.

A man carrying a "magic" wooden box on his head through the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Wooden or metal boxes, which are believed to contain “juju” (magical powers), are paraded on some men’s heads through the 20 villages that make up Arondizuogu, as another way of communicating with the spirit world.

Men covered in purple paint walking next to a car in a street parade in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

The festival is an annual event – the dates are decided by the village monarchs and elders. Some years it coincides with Easter celebrations, though they are not linked. Body painting is part of the fun…

A man with a face painted with charcoal in a street of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Some parade participants use powdered dye, palm oil and charcoal to cover their bodies.

Two women in headwraps with a little boy in a street of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

It is a time for everyone to dress up – although women do not traditionally take part in any of the parades. They watch from the sidelines and some prepare special feasts for the party goers.

Man selling chicken in a street of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

And it’s certainly not a celebration without food. Business is brisk for the vendors who sell barbeque chicken and beef to visitors.

Man being washed as part of rituals in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Part of the festival’s rituals include the cleansing of bodies to wash away the previous farming season and prepare for the next.

A masquerade group parading through the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Popular local staples like yam and cassava, as well as various vegetables, will be planted in the coming season.

Man with a read woollen hat pulled over his eyes in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

One man poses with his “okpu agoro”, a red, black and white woollen bobble hat worn by men from the Igbo community of south-eastern Nigeria.

Man in a masquerade costume in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Each masquerade group is accompanied by musicians using instruments such as gongs and drums – and the celebrations tend to last until late in the evening each day.

Sudan crisis: Cash hoard found at al-Bashir’s home

Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the military after months of protests

A large hoard of cash has been found at the home of Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir and he is now being investigated for money laundering, prosecutors say.

Security services found euros, dollars and Sudanese pounds totalling more than $130m (£100m).

The ex-leader was placed under house arrest after months of protests led to his removal.

Reports say Mr Bashir is now being held at the Kobar high-security prison.

A source in Sudan’s judiciary told Reuters news agency that suitcases loaded with more than $351,000, €6m ($6.7m; £5.2m) and five billion Sudanese pounds ($105m) were found at Mr Bashir’s home.

The source also confirmed Mr Bashir was under investigation, telling Reuters prosecutors would “question the former president in Kobar prison”.

A picture carried by the Netherlands-based media outlet Radio Dabanga shows men in army uniforms standing over what appears to be several sacks full of cash.

The money, which Radio Dabanga says was shown to reporters, was stuffed in bags designed to contain 50kg (110lbs) of grain.

But despite moves to hold Mr Bashir to account, Sudan’s army does not appear to have the confidence of protesters demanding civilian rule, 

Sudanese protesters flash the victory sign ahead of a friday prayer outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 19, 2019. -
Protesters fear that the military will continue to pull the strings

Protesters want civilian rule’

The mass sit-in continues in the centre of Khartoum, amid a lack of trust that the military council is committed to handing over power to a civilian transitional authority.

Each day concessions are announced, but there’s little proof that what’s been promised has been delivered.

There have been no images of the former president in prison, nor any response from the generals over a demand they give up power to a civilian administration.

The general public prosecutor’s announcement that Mr Bashir is being investigated for money laundering after cash was found at his home is news the demonstrators would like to hear.

Presentational grey line

The Sudanese military toppled Mr Bashir on 11 April but demonstrators, led by The Sudanese Professionals Association, have vowed to stay on the streets until there is a move to civilian rule.

Mr Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in the country’s Darfur region.

Sudan’s military, however, says it will not extradite him and will try him in the country instead.

‘Protesters won’t move until they get real change’

Uganda would consider offering the deposed leader asylum if he applied, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem Okello told Reuters.

Until this week, Mr Bashir’s whereabouts since his removal were unknown.

The coup leader at the time, Awad Ibn Auf, said Mr Bashir was being detained in a “safe place”.

He himself stood down soon afterwards, with Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan named as head of the transitional military council.

UK weather: Hottest day of the year, says Met Office

Bournemouth beach
Sunbathers flocked to Bournemouth beach in Dorset on Saturday to enjoy the hot weather

The Met Office has confirmed Saturday as the hottest day of the year, with 25.5C recorded in Gosport, Hampshire.

And the UK is set for record-breaking temperatures over the rest of the Easter weekend, forecasters have said.

Temperatures are expected to climb to 26C on Easter Sunday and 27C on Monday, though north-west Scotland could be clipped by outbursts of rain.

The record temperature for Easter Sunday in the UK is 25.3C reached in Solent, Hampshire in April 2011.

The Solent also lays claim to the hottest Easter Monday with 24C recorded, also in 2011.

Met Office forecaster Helen Roberts said the Solent’s records were the “ones to keep an eye on and could be broken”.

The UK’s warmest Easter temperature was 29.4C, recorded at London’s Camden Square on Holy Saturday in 1949.

Mudeford, Dorset
Bank holiday exploring on the headland at Hengistbury Head in Mudeford

Cyclists near Boscombe beach
Cyclists pass the beach huts on Boscombe beach, Dorset

Milton Keynes
Relaxing by the water in Milton Keynes

Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose supermarkets said they expected soaring sales of sausages, burgers, ice lollies and ice cream.

Sainsbury’s told the BBC it expected sales of rose wine to jump by 40% compared to last week, fake tan to climb by 300% and sun cream by 800%.

Runners in Bournemouth
A group of runners take to the seafront in Bournemouth

A family playing by the river in Marlow, Buckingham
It was a good day to take it easy by the Thames in Marlow, Buckinghamshire

A rapeseed field near Skirpenbeck in Yorkshire
Yellow rapeseed blooms in the sunshine near Skirpenbeck in Yorkshire

Argos customers have been preparing for the hot weather, with sales of one air conditioning unit up 367% week-on-week.

Asda is expecting high sales of Easter eggs and legs of lamb to be joined by a jump in sales of barbecue food – including a run on potato salad.

Meanwhile a spokesman for Waitrose said the supermarket was expecting sales of kebabs and steaks to rise by 150% week-on-week, and burgers by 170%.

Boats on the River Bure
Boats cruise along the River Bure in Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads

Southport beach
Catching the sun on Southport beach in Merseyside

Regent's Park in London
Sunbathers enjoy London’s Regent’s Park

Merkel ‘highly qualified’ for top EU job, says Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker | Aris Oikonomou

The German chancellor is ‘a lovable work of art,’ said the Commission president.

Angela Merkel would be “highly qualified” for a senior EU position once she steps down as chancellor, Jean-Claude Juncker said, referring to the German leader as “a lovable work of art.”

In an interview with the German Funke Media Group, the European Commission president, whose own term of office comes to an end in the fall, said he “cannot imagine” that Merkel would “disappear without trace.”

“She is not only a respected person but also a lovable work of art,” Juncker said.

But the Commission president was less complimentary about French President Emmanuel Macron over his refusal to back the Spitzenkandidat (or “lead candidate”) system for choosing the next Commission president. Juncker said he was a “great supporter” of the system, which was used for the first time, during his own appointment.

“One reason for the crisis of political credibility is precisely the fact that what is promised before the election is not what is done after,” he said.

“The Liberals, to whom Emmanuel Macron belongs, have failed to put up a lead candidate and have therefore nominated nine candidates,” said Juncker. “I can already tell you one thing: There will not be nine Liberal Commission presidents.”

Juncker’s European People’s Party looks set to win the most seats in the European Parliament, putting its Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber, in pole position to be Juncker’s successor.

On Brexit, Juncker said that there remained the risk that the U.K. would leave the bloc without a deal, despite the decision by EU leaders last week to extend the Article 50 deadline until October 31.

“Nobody knows how Brexit will end. This is creating great uncertainty. There is still a fear that there will be a hard Brexit without any withdrawal treaty arrangements,” he said, adding that Brexit would “stifle growth.”

“I hope that the British will make use of this time and not waste it again,” Juncker added.

Asked if he thought it “absurd” for Britain to participate in the European Parliament election, he said that if the U.K. is still an EU member on election day then the EU treaty would apply and so the election must be held. “We cannot punish the citizens just because the British have not managed to leave by the agreed date,” he said.

And on the security of the EU-wide poll more generally, the Commission president said he was concerned about attempts to influence the outcome.

“I can see an attempt to rig the European Parliament elections,” he said. “This comes from several quarters, and not only from outside the EU. States within the EU are also seeking to direct the will of voters in a particular direction with fake news.”

Labour forced to delete tweet after EMBARRASSING Passover message mocked by Jews

Labour has been forced to delete a Passover message on social media (

LABOUR has been forced to delete a Passover message on social media after the party was attacked for featuring an image of a loaf of bread – the food observant Jews are forbidden from eating during the festival.

The message, tweeted out on the party’s Twitter page, read: “As Jewish people prepare for Passover, we’re wishing everyone in the Jewish community chag sameach #Passover.” The graphic included drawings of the Star of David, a glass and a loaf of bread. Social media users were quick to unleash a barrage of criticism against Labour.

One said: “Guys, this is a loaf of bread.

“On Passover Jews don’t eat bread.

“It’s a whole festival of NOT EATING BREAD.”

Another Twitter user responded: “Astonishing (but sadly unsurprising) basic religious illiteracy from Labour.”

Another said: “Is this a joke? You know we don’t eat bread during Pesach.”

The graphic included drawings of the Star of David, a glass and a loaf of bread
The graphic included drawings of the Star of David, a glass and a loaf of bread

While a third wrote: “Got to laugh.

“Labour trying to inclusive to Jews celebrating Passover.

“The one thing observant Jews specifically avoid at Passover is bread.”

The week-long festival from Friday, April 19 until Saturday, April 27 is celebrated annually in Judaism.

During the festival, observant Jews are prohibited from eating leaven, a substance which is used to make baked dough rise.

The post was later replaced with a graphic that removed the drawings of the glass and loaf of bread
The post was later replaced with a graphic that removed the drawings of the glass and loaf of bread

All traces of it must be removed from the house to commemorate Jews led by Moses out of Egypt who didn’t have time to let their bread rise.

Ivor Caplin, a former Labour defence minister, also voiced his outrage at the post.

He said: “Bread is not eaten during Passover.

“An unbelievable error and look forward to the apology.”

Yair Rosenberg, from Tablet magazine, wrote: “The British Labour party has been racked by anti-Semitism scandals for years, tweeted a Passover greeting – featuring bread.

Social media users were quick to unleash a barrage of criticism against Labour
Social media users were quick to unleash a barrage of criticism against Labour

“They had to correct it.

“You cannot make this up.

“To be clear, that is obviously not anti-Semitic.

“It’s just entirely predictable and utterly hilarious.”

Lahav Harkov, from the Jerusalem Post, added: “This is the Passover graphic you get when all the Jews leave your party.”

The post by Labour was later deleted and replaced with a graphic that removed the drawings of the glass and loaf of bread.

Yellow voice: Paris in FLAMES again as protesters cause chaos across France days after Notre Dame fire

Yellow Vest: Police clash with protestors in Paris

Over 60,000 police officers have been deployed across France after yellow vest protesters took to the streets for a 23rd consecutive weekend. At least 5,000 police officers were stationed in Paris alone, as protesters were warned to stay away from Notre Dame cathedral and the banks of the Seine. A car, motorbikes and multiple barricades have been set ablaze in eastern Paris, forcing firefighters to scramble to the scene.

Local media also reported there have been fights between police and marchers.

At least 126 people have been arrested in Paris already today.

On Friday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he believed extremists and vandals were plotting to continue their campaign of rioting, starting fires and looting.

The resurgence in violence at the yellow vest protests follows a week of despair for the French.

Although Monday’s fire at Notre Dame initially united France, the huge sums of money donated for the cathedral’s reconstruction has become a new source of anger for many.

“They can mobilize a truckload of cash in one night for Notre Dame,” but they can’t help the poor, said spokeswoman Ingrid Levavasseur.

Nicolle Maxime, a truck driver from Brittany, said on Tuesday: “The Earth still turns, we have people who can’t make it to the end of the month, we have people who sleep on the streets, and that’s what our fight is about.”

The fire at Notre Dame started just one hour before Mr Macron was due to address the country on TV to outline tax and other measures he’s now proposing following two months of town hall meetings to let the French vent their complaints raised by five months of Yellow Vests protests.

The speech was cancelled and is likely to go ahead next week.

According to insiders, Mr Macron was due to announced tax cuts for middle-class households, inflation indexation of small pensions and no more closings of schools and hospitals until the end of his first term in 2022.

Paris in FLAMES again as protesters cause chaos across France days after Notre Dame fire

But yellow vest protesters have said this is too little too late and want to continue their protests.

According to local media, the protesters were taking two routes across the French capital.

One starting at the Basilica of Saint-Denis and the other at the Jussieu Campus of the Sorbonne, after routes in the centre of the city, were prohibited by police.

Libya crisis: Trump speaks to insurgent General Haftar

Libyans in Tripoli demonstrate against Haftar
On Friday Tripoli residents demonstrated against Gen Haftar’s offensive

The White House says President Trump has spoken to Libyan eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are attacking the capital Tripoli.

During Monday’s call, Mr Trump recognised Gen Haftar’s efforts to combat terrorism and secure Libya’s oil and they discussed Libya’s future.

Tripoli is the seat of Libya’s UN-backed and internationally recognised government.

Mr Trump’s call suggests he endorses Gen Haftar, unlike some of his allies.

More than 200 people have been killed since the fighting began three weeks ago.

On Thursday the UN-backed Prime Minister, Fayez al-Serraj condemned the “silence” of his international allies, amid the assault by Gen Haftar’s forces.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

The latest crisis started three weeks ago, when Gen Haftar’s eastern forces descended on the capital in what Mr Serraj has described as an attempted coup.

Gen Haftar’s troops are advancing from various directions on the outskirts of the city and say they have seized Tripoli’s international airport.

Does this mean Trump backs Haftar?

During Mr Trump’s conversation with Gen Haftar, the pair “discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system”, the White House says.

The BBC’s Middle East Regional Editor Alan Johnston says the call seems to signal that Washington is swinging its weight behind Gen Haftar and may see him as being capable of restoring unity and order to the country.

But Gen Haftar’s opponents say he would rule the country in a highly autocratic style, our correspondent adds.

pro-government forces south of Tripoli
Pro-government forces are fighting Gen Haftar’s forces to the south of Tripoli

The US, along with Russia, has also refused to support a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya.

Russia objected to wording blaming Gen Haftar for the violence while the US did not give a reason, Reuters reported.

Gen Haftar has had backing from the UAE and Egypt and visited Saudi Arabia shortly before announcing his attack on Tripoli.

The UN-backed government in Tripoli has also accused France of supporting Gen Haftar. France has denied this.

Reuters quoted Jalel Harchaoui from the Clingendael Institute in The Hague as saying that Mr Trump’s call was tantamount to supporting Gen Haftar’s campaign and made a military intervention by an outside state such as Egypt more likely.

Who supports the Tripoli government?

Former colonial power Italy backs the internationally-recognised government.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also said there is “no justification” for Gen Haftar’s move on Tripoli.

On Friday Mr Hunt spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the two agreed to “continue diplomatic efforts to achieve a freeze on the ground and a return to the political process”, according to the state department.

Who is General Haftar?

A former army officer, he helped Colonel Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US.

He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

After Gaddafi’s fall he was appointed chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) under an earlier UN-backed administration

Today newspapers Scotland: Families devastated by terror attacks

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Philippines earthquake: Eight deaths reported on Luzon

Rescuers are searching for trapped people at a building in Pampanga province

At least eight people have been killed after a powerful earthquake struck the main Philippines island of Luzon, officials say.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit at 17:11 local time (09:11 GMT) on Monday, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reports.

An airport was seriously damaged and at least two buildings were destroyed.

Authorities fear dozens of people remain trapped underneath a collapsed building in the province of Pampanga.

The province – which is north-west of the capital, Manila – is believed to be the worst-hit area. Its governor, Lilia Pineda, told Reuters news agency that 20 people had been injured there.

“They can be heard crying in pain,” she said of those trapped under the rubble. “It won’t be easy to rescue them.”

Ms Pineda told ABS-CBN television that three bodies had been pulled out of a shop following the earthquake, while a woman and her grandchild were found dead in the town of Lubao.

Twenty people have so far been rescued and taken to hospital, she added.

The earthquake was felt in Manila, where skyscrapers were seen swaying for several minutes in the business district.

Clark International Airport, located about an hour’s drive north of the capital, suffered major damage, with at least seven people injured.

People evacuate a building in Manila
People evacuate a building in Manila

Martial arts instructor Dani Justo recalled the moment she felt the earthquake at her Manila home.

“The clothes hanging on our line were really swaying. My shih tzu (dog) dropped flat on the ground,” she told AFP.

Social media users on the northern island posted photos of the damage caused by the quake, including cracked walls and swinging light fixtures.

One video posted to Twitter showed water cascading down the side of a skyscraper from its rooftop pool.

Classes at Manila’s De La Salle University are being suspended on Tuesday while building inspections are conducted.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” – a zone of major seismic activity which has one of the world’s most active fault lines.

A map of the Philippines

Herman Cain withdraws bid for Federal Reserve seat

Herman Cain made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012

Former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain withdrew his name for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, US President Donald Trump has tweeted.

The president said he would respect the former pizza chain executive’s wishes and not pursue Mr Cain’s nomination to join America’s central bank.

“My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him”, Mr Trump wrote.

Mr Trump first announced he intended to nominate Mr Cain earlier this month.

Though the president did not formally nominate Mr Cain to the seven-member board, the announcement prompted backlash among Democrats and some Republicans in Congress.

It is unclear why Mr Cain withdrew his name for consideration.

The president has been accused of putting forward political loyalists to the Fed.

Arguably the world’s most influential bank, it is traditionally an independent body.

The president is a fierce critic of the central bank, and has also often called for lower interest rates – his predecessors have largely refrained from trying to sway monetary policy.

Mr Cain would have required almost total Republican support in the Senate to be confirmed. As of last week, four of 53 Republican senators announced they plan to vote against him.

Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer all indicated they would vote no on the nomination.

Mr Cain, a former executive of Godfather’s Pizza, made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but dropped out amid allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.

He is often remembered for his 9-9-9 tax reform plan during his campaign, and this viral campaign video by an adviser.

He served as the chairman of the Kansas City Federal Bank from 1989 to 1991.

Housebound Parkinson’s patients have movement restored

Gail Jardine: “I can walk, I can turn… it’s really helped me”

A treatment that has restored the movement of patients with chronic Parkinson’s disease has been developed by Canadian researchers.

Previously housebound patients are now able to walk more freely as a result of electrical stimulation to their spines.

A quarter of patients have difficulty walking as the disease wears on, often freezing on the spot and falling.

Parkinson’s UK hailed its potential impact on an aspect of the disease where there is currently no treatment.

Prof Mandar Jog, of Western University in London, Ontario, told BBC News the scale of benefit to patients of his new treatment was “beyond his wildest dreams”.

Gail being tested
Scientists monitor their patients’ improvement using sensors on a specially made suit.

“Most of our patients have had the disease for 15 years and have not walked with any confidence for several years,” he said.

“For them to go from being home-bound, with the risk of falling, to being able to go on trips to the mall and have vacations is remarkable for me to see.”

Normal walking involves the brain sending instructions to the legs to move. It then receives signals back when the movement has been completed before sending instructions for the next step.

Brain Scans
The parts of the brain involved with movement (red on the left-hand scan) are not working properly, but three months into the trial those areas are now functioning

Prof Jog believes Parkinson’s disease reduces the signals coming back to the brain – breaking the loop and causing the patient to freeze.

The implant his team has developed boosts that signal, enabling the patient to walk normally.

However, Prof Jog was surprised that the treatment was long-lasting and worked even when the implant was turned off.

He believes the electrical stimulus reawakens the feedback mechanism from legs to brain that is damaged by the disease.

“This is a completely different rehabilitation therapy,” he said. “We had thought that the movement problems occurred in Parkinson’s patients because signals from the brain to the legs were not getting through.

“But it seems that it’s the signals getting back to the brain that are degraded.”

Countryside walks

Brain scans showed that before patients received the electrical treatment, the areas that control movement were not working properly. But a few months into the treatment those areas were restored.

Gail Jardine, 66, is among the patients who has benefited from the treatment.

Before she received the implant two months ago, Gail kept freezing on the spot, and she would fall over two or three times a day.

She lost her confidence and stopped walking in the countryside in Kitchener, Ontario – something she loved doing with her husband, Stan.

Now she can walk with Stan in the park for the first time in more than two years.

“I can walk a lot better,” she said. “I haven’t fallen since I started the treatment. It’s given me more confidence and I’m looking forward to taking more walks with Stan and maybe even go on my own”.

Guy and Barb Alden
Guy Alden used to rely on a wheelchair but after his treatment he had his first holiday in seven years with his wife, Barb

Another beneficiary is Guy Alden, 70, a deacon at a catholic church in London, Ontario. He was forced to retire in 2012 because of his Parkinson’s disease.

His greatest regret was that it curtailed his work in the community, such as his prison visits.

“I was freezing a lot when I was in a crowd or crossing a threshold in a mall. Everyone would be looking at me. It was very embarrassing,” he told me.

“Now I can walk in crowds. My wife and I even went on holiday to Maui and I didn’t need to use my wheelchair at any point. There were a lot of narrow roads and a lot of (slopes) and I did all of that pretty well.”

Dr Beckie Port, research manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: “The results seen in this small-scale pilot study are very promising and the therapy certainly warrants further investigation.

“Should future studies show the same level of promise, it has the potential to dramatically improve quality of life, giving people with Parkinson’s the freedom to enjoy everyday activities.”

Samsung Galaxy Fold: Broken screens delay launch

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was supposed to be released on 26 April

Samsung has postponed the release of its folding smartphone, days after several early reviewers said the screens on their devices had broken.

The company said it had delayed the launch of the Galaxy Fold to “fully evaluate the feedback and run further internal tests”.

In April, several early reviewers found the display on the Galaxy Fold broke after just a few days.

Samsung has not said when the £1,800 device will go on sale.

A new launch date will be announced in the “coming weeks”.

In a statement, Samsung said it suspected the damage experienced by some of the reviewers was caused by “impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge”.

It also said it found “substances” inside one of the review devices that may have affected its performance.

Launch events due to take place in Hong Kong and Shanghai this week have also been postponed.

Samsung Galaxy Fold: Broken screens delay launch
WATCH: Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Fold

The Galaxy Fold was due to be released in the United States on 26 April, and in the UK on 3 May.

The South Korean tech giant has said it is investigating what went wrong with the broken review units.

In some cases, reviewers had peeled off a layer of the screen’s coating, mistaking it for a disposable screen protector.

“We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer,” Samsung said in a statement.

Chinese rivals Huawei and Xiaomi are also developing foldable smartphones, but neither company has announced a release date yet.

Australian father and son lifesavers drown in tourist rescue bid

The Twelve Apostles are a popular attraction in the rugged Port Campbell National Park, Victoria

A father and son who were volunteer lifesavers have drowned while trying to rescue a tourist swept out to sea off the Australian state of Victoria.

The boat carrying Ross Powell, 71, and his son Andrew, 32, overturned as they tried to reach the man near limestone stacks known as the Twelve Apostles.

The 30-year-old tourist was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter along with a third lifesaver from the boat.

Australian PM Scott Morrison paid tribute to the Powells.

“Surf lifesavers are selfless and brave,” he said on Twitter.

“We thank them all for their service and extend our deepest sympathies to Ross and Andrew’s family and friends.”

Map locator

The incident has shocked the tourist town of Port Campbell, south-west of Melbourne, where the men were experienced members of the local surf lifesaving club. Floral tributes have been left at the club and flags there are flying at half mast, Australian media reported.

The tourist, who has not been named, was said to have got into difficulties while wading at the mouth of the Sherbrook River.

The lifesaving team set off in their boat but it flipped over in the rough surf, local officials said.

Andrew Powell’s partner, Amber Griffiths, described the father and son as “two of the most beautiful people to ever exist – always putting others first”.

The rescued lifesaver is in a serious condition in hospital, Australian media reported. The tourist suffered hypothermia and is in a stable condition.

Polish Judas ritual ‘anti-Semitic’ – Jewish congress

Children kicked the effigy and beat it with big sticks

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has voiced outrage over a Polish town’s ritual beating of a Judas effigy which looks like a caricature Orthodox Jew.

The Good Friday ritual in Pruchnik, south-eastern Poland, was filmed and posted by a Polish news website.

“Jews are deeply disturbed by this ghastly revival of medieval anti-Semitism that led to unimaginable violence and suffering,” the WJC said.

More than three million Polish Jews were murdered during World War Two.

In total, Nazi Germany murdered about six million Jews in death camps in occupied Poland and killing fields in the former Soviet Union.

Judas effigy hanging, 19 Apr 19
The straw-filled effigy was later hanged and burned

In the Pruchnik ritual – part of Roman Catholic Easter celebrations – children crowded round the effigy beating it with sticks, as adults dragged it through the streets. The mock Judas had a big red nose, black hat and Orthodox-style ringlets.

In the past the Catholic Church in Poland had banned such practices.

Last year a diplomatic row erupted between Israel and Poland after the conservative Polish government made it an offence to allege that the Polish nation was complicit in Nazi crimes. US officials also criticised the new law.

Later the Polish government watered down the controversial law, by scrapping the prison sentences prescribed for such offences.

Research shows that thousands of Poles collaborated with the Nazis. But many other Poles risked their lives to help Jews.

PM to face grassroots no-confidence vote

Prime Minister Theresa May is to face an unprecedented no-confidence challenge – from Conservative grassroots campaigners.

More than 70 local association chiefs – angry at her handling of Brexit – have called for an extraordinary general meeting to discuss her leadership.

A non-binding vote will be held at that National Conservative Convention EGM.

Dinah Glover, chairwoman of the London East Area Conservatives, said there was “despair in the party”.

She told the BBC: “I’m afraid the prime minister is conducting negotiations in such a way that the party does not approve.”

The Conservative Party’s 800 highest-ranking officers, including those chairing the local associations, will take part in the vote.

Mrs May, survived a vote of confidence her MPs in December – although 117 Conservatives voted against her.

Under party rules, MPs cannot call another no-confidence vote until December 2019.

However, an EGM has to convene if more than 65 local associations demand one via a petition.

The current petition, which has passed the signature threshold, states: “We no longer feel that Mrs May is the right person to continue as prime minister to lead us forward in the [Brexit] negotiations.

“We therefore, with great reluctance, ask that she considers her position and resigns, to allow the Conservative Party to choose another leader, and the country to move forward and negotiate our exit from the EU.”

It is believed to be the first time the procedure has been used.