North Korean leader Kim Jong-un: has arrived in the far east of Russia for a summit with President Vladimir Putin

Kim Jong-un attends a welcoming ceremony upon arrival in Vladivostok
Kim Jong-un attends a welcoming ceremony upon arrival in Vladivostok

Kim Jong-un in Russia for Vladimir Putin summit.

Mr Kim arrived in the Pacific Coast city of Vladivostok for his first talks with the Russian president by train.

He was welcomed by officials with a traditional offering of bread and salt.

The Kremlin says they will discuss the Korean peninsula’s “nuclear problem”, but analysts say Mr Kim is also seeking support after talks with US President Donald Trump collapsed.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim met in Hanoi earlier this year to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, but the summit – their second – ended without agreement.

The North Korean leader greeted Russian officials warmly on his arrival in Vladivostok on Wednesday.

After tasting traditional korovai bread and salt, Mr Kim was entertained by a brass band before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards who – in now familiar scenes – jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

“I arrived in Russia bearing the warm feelings of our people, and as I already said, I hope this visit will be successful and useful,” Mr Kim told Russian channel Rossiya 24.

“I hope that during the talks with respected President Putin, I will be able to discuss in a concrete manner issues relating to the settlement of the situation on the Korean peninsula, and to the development of our bilateral relations.”

What do we know about the summit?

North Korean state media has yet to confirm a time or location for the meeting.

But Russian and North Korean national flags are already in place on Vladivostok’s Russky island, where the summit is expected to take place.

Mr Kim's train in Vladivostok
Mr Kim travelled on his armoured train

The North Korean leader reportedly crossed into Russia on Wednesday and stepped out of his private train at the border city of Khasan.

He was greeted by Russian women in traditional dress as part of a symbolic welcome ceremony.

What do both sides want?

This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of nuclear talks with the US earlier this year, the BBC’s says.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit in February.

Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of “talking nonsense” and asking for someone “more careful” to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US, our correspondent adds.

Mr Kim may also try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

North Korean and Russian flags flying in Vladivostok, April 2019
Flags for the two nations have already been put up on lampposts in Vladivostok

Analysts believe this summit is a chance for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

Map

Senior officials say the Kremlin is hoping to see a reduction in tensions on the peninsula.

Mr Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, said the situation there had “stabilised somewhat” in recent months.

“Russia intends to help in any way possible to cement that positive trend,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Russia has previously been involved in talks to end North Korea’s nuclear programme.

Former North Korean leader and Mr Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, met then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in 2011.

A South Korean foreign ministry spokesman said Russia “shares our viewpoints” on denuclearisation and peace on the peninsula.

Nuclear activity seems to be continuing in North Korea, and the country said it had tested a new “tactical guided weapon” – thought to be a short-range missile – earlier in April.

Sri Lanka attacks: Government vows to overhaul state security

Volunteers provide water, food and support to those mourning the bombing in Negombo, Sri Lanka
Volunteers provide water, food and support to those mourning the bombing in Negombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s president has vowed to overhaul state security after several bomb blasts on Sunday killed 321 people and wounded 500.

Late on Tuesday, Maithripala Sirisena announced changes to the heads of defence forces “within 24 hours”.

He said threat reports had not been shared with him, and promised to take “stern action” against officials.

The country’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Islamic State (IS) group may be linked to the blasts.

He added that the government believed Sunday’s attacks could not have been carried out without help from terror groups abroad.

IS claimed the attack on Tuesday, although did not provide evidence.

In a televised address late on Tuesday President Sirisena said he would completely restructure the police and security forces in coming weeks.

“The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me. I have decided to take stern action against these officials.”

The BBC World Service’s South Asia Editor Ethirajan Anbarasan said it was an embarrassing admission by President Sirisena that security officials did not share with him the intelligence report warning about the attacks.

With IS claiming responsibility for the attacks, Sri Lanka is now entering uncharted territory, our correspondent explains.

Authorities say they are looking into possible links between the local Muslim youths who carried out the suicide bombings and the global jihadist group.

‘Foreign links’

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

The footage shows a man wearing a large backpack calmly walking towards St Sebastian’s church

But Mr Wickremesinghe said the attacks “could not have been done just locally”.

“There had been training given and a coordination which we are not seeing earlier,” he said.

Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack, all of whom were Sri Lankan nationals. A state of emergency remains in effect to prevent further attacks.

The nearly simultaneous attacks targeted three churches packed for Easter services and three major hotels in the capital, Colombo.

An attack on a fourth hotel on Sunday was foiled, Mr Wickremesinghe said. He also warned that further militants and explosives could still be “out there” following the attack.

Who could be behind the attacks?

IS said it had “targeted nationals of the crusader alliance [anti-IS US-led coalition] and Christians in Sri Lanka” via its Amaq news outlet.

It provided no evidence for the claim but shared an image on social media of eight men purported to be behind the attack.

The group’s last territory fell in March but even then experts had warned it does not mean the end of IS or its ideology.

A man cries as he prays outside the St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 22, 2019
There were emotional scenes outside St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo

Earlier, the country’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament that NTJ was linked to another radical Islamist group he named as JMI. He gave no further details.

He also said “preliminary investigations” indicated that the bombings were in retaliation for deadly attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.

NTJ has no history of large-scale attacks but came to prominence last year when it was blamed for damaging Buddhist statues. The group has not said it carried out Sunday’s bombings.

The Sri Lankan government is facing scrutiny after it emerged the authorities were warned of about a possible attack.

Security services had been monitoring the NTJ but the prime minister and the cabinet were not warned, ministers said.

Who were the victims?

The first mass funeral was held on Tuesday, as Sri Lanka marked an official day of mourning for the victims.

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

Sri Lankan officials said 38 foreign nationals were among the dead, with another 14 unaccounted for. The death toll includes at least eight British citizens and at least 11 Indian nationals.

The mass funeral for about 30 victims took place at St Sebastian’s church in Negombo, north of Colombo, which was one of the places targeted in Sunday’s blasts. Another funeral service was scheduled for later on Tuesday.

A moment of silence was also observed at 08:30 on Tuesday, reflecting the time the first of six bombs detonated.

Flags were lowered to half-mast and people, many of them in tears, bowed their heads in respect.

Map, Sri Lanka.
Are you in Sri Lanka? Have you been affected by the attacks? You can share your experience by contacting, haveyoursayonbbc@yahoo.com

Jacinda Ardern leads effort to curb online extremism

"It's critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism", Ms Ardern said
“It’s critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism”, Ms Ardern said

New Zealand and France will lead efforts to stop the use of social media to organise and promote terrorism in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

A gunman killed 50 people in an attack on two mosques in March, while live-streaming the massacre on Facebook.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would co-chair a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on 15 May.

The aim is to get countries and tech firms to agree to a pledge to eliminate terrorist content online.

Ms Ardern told Radio New Zealand she had already spoken to a handful of chief executives about the pledge – known as the “Christchurch Call” – including Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

The March 15 terrorist attacks saw social media used in an unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate,” she said in a statement.

“It’s critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism, and instead become part of a global solution to countering extremism.”

It is the latest incident to shine a spotlight on how sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube struggle to address extremism on their platforms.

“Social media platforms can connect people in many very positive ways, and we all want this to continue,” Ms Ardern said in the statement.

“But for too long, it has also been possible to use these platforms to incite extremist violence, and even to distribute images of that violence, as happened in Christchurch. This is what needs to change.”

Facebook has promised to explore restrictions on live-streaming, in the wake of the Christchurch killings.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.”

Sri Lanka attacks: Who are the victims?

A spate of attacks has claimed hundreds of victims across Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is in shock after a wave of bombings targeting churches and hotels left 290 people dead. Churches were hit during Easter services on Sunday in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.

Most of those killed are thought to be Sri Lankan nationals but officials say dozens of foreigners are among the dead including British, Indian, Danish and Chinese nationals.

The government temporarily restricted some social media networks to try and halt the spread of misinformation, so details have been slow to emerge. But this is what we know so far about those who lost their lives.

Shantha Mayadunne, a Sri Lankan celebrity chef

One of the first victims to have been identified last night was Sri Lankan celebrity chef Shantha Mayadunne.

Her daughter Nisanga Mayadunne had posted a picture of the family having breakfast in the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo shortly before an explosion occurred there.

One of their family members later posted on Facebook confirming that both Shantha and Nisanga had died, saying “no words can describe the pain”.

Four servers at the Cinnamon Grand hotel

Four Sri Lankan staff members at the Taprobane restaurant in the Cinnamon Grand hotel have died in the attacks.

“It was a busy morning. It’s Sunday morning during buffet breakfast so it’s one of our busiest periods,” the Cinnamon Grand hotel spokesman told the BBC.

“They were servers at the restaurant. One of them was working at the live food stations making hoppers [a Sri Lankan pancake].”

They have been identified only as Shantha, Sanjeewani, Ibrahim and Nisthar.

ASOS billionaire’s children

Three children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen have died in the attacks, a spokesman has confirmed to the BBC. The company was unable to reveal any more details at this time and asked for the family’s privacy to be respected.

One of his children had four days ago posted a picture on Instagram that was geo-tagged Sri Lanka.

Mr Povlsen, 46, owns the Bestseller clothing chain and is the largest stakeholder in the hugely popular online retailer ASOS.

Rasina, 58, from the Indian state of Kerala

According to local media outlets, Rasina, whose name has also been spelt by other outlets as Razeena – originally from Kerala – lived in Dubai with her husband but travelled to Colombo to meet her relatives.

The 58-year-old had been in the Sri Lankan capital with her husband. He left for Dubai on Sunday morning and she was due to leave Colombo on a later flight on the same day.

But she was killed shortly after checking out of the Shangri-La hotel.

“Her life was just snubbed out in a few hours,” her brother-in-law Usman Kukkady told news outlet the New Indian Express.

The couple have a son and daughter who are both living in the US, said the news outlet.

Two Indians from a political party

Two of the victims were identified as K G Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa. They were said to be members of the Janata Dal Party (JDP).

The chief minister of the Indian state of Karnataka said in a tweet that he had known both members personally, adding that he was “deeply shocked”.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also identified three other victims as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.

Little else is known about them at this stage.

Turkish engineers Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus

Two Turkish nationals were killed, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Engineer Serhan Selcuk Narici moved to Colombo in March 2017, according to his Facebook profile.

His father, Baba Memhet Narici, told Anadolu that his son was an electrical engineer. He had last been doing some work at the US embassy building in Sri Lanka.

“He sent me a WhatsApp message this morning at 5am saying ‘Good Morning'”, said Mr Narici. “That was the last I heard from him.”

The other victim – Yigit Ali Cavus – was also an engineer.

“He was a brilliant child. He graduated with honours from the Istanbul Technical University and spoke two languages,” said his father.

It is not yet clear where they were when the attacks took place.

Two Australians from one family

Two Australians were killed in the attacks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed.

They were members of the same family who were living in Sri Lanka, he said. There are no further details at this point.

The grandson of a politician

The grandson of Bangladeshi MP Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim has been killed in the attacks.

Mr Selim’s grandson – who is himself a prominent member of the Awami League political party – died in an explosion in the hotel where the family was staying, according to local media reports. It is not clear which hotel this was.

Mr Selim’s personal assistant told news outlet the Dhaka Tribune that the boy’s father was also injured in the blast.

Sri Lanka attacks: Death toll soars to 290

Three churches were targeted during Easter services

The death toll in Sri Lanka has soared to 290 after a wave of blasts hit churches and luxury hotels across the country on Sunday.

Police said 24 people had been arrested, but it is not yet known who carried out the attacks.

About 500 people are injured and dozens of foreigners are among the dead.

The country is in shock after the Easter Sunday bombings, the deadliest violence since the end of the civil war in 2009.

Late on Sunday Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said security services had been “aware of information” of possible attacks but that the information had not been acted upon.

How did the attacks unfold?

The first reports of explosions came at about 08:45 local time (03:15 GMT) – with six blasts reported within a small space of time.

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

As police hunted those responsible, two further explosions were reported.

One blast hit near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, and an eighth was reported near the Colombo district of Dematagoda during a police raid, killing three officers.

Blast damage at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo
Blast damage at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo

Late on Sunday, the air force said an improvised explosive device had been found and disposed of close to the country’s main airport in the capital, Colombo.

“A PVC pipe which was six feet [1.8m] in length containing explosives in it was discovered,” spokesman Gihan Seneviratne told local media.

What’s known about the attackers?

It remains unclear who was behind the attacks. There is also no information on the identity of the 24 people arrested.

The government has said they believe suicide bombs were used at some of the sites.

The BBC’s Azzam Ameen in Colombo says the attackers are thought to be part of a “radical extremist Islamist group” according to authorities.

Addressing rumours that officials had had prior intelligence of forthcoming attacks, Mr Wickremesinghe said: “We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken. Neither I nor the ministers were kept informed.”

Map showing locations of attacks

There was also a temporary restriction on some social media networks to try and stop misinformation spreading.

Who are the victims?

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

The ministry of foreign affairs says it believes 36 foreign nationals are among the dead, with most still unidentified at a Colombo mortuary.

The international victims include:

  • At least five 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
  • One person from the Netherlands
  • One person from Japan, according to Japanese media citing government sources

How has the world responded?

World leaders have been offering their shock and condolences to Sri Lanka over the deadly blasts.

Several prominent international monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, were dimmed or lit in Sri Lanka’s colours in solidarity on Sunday night.

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

A spokesperson for UN Secretary General António Guterres said he was “outraged” by the attacks, and expressed his hope the perpetrators would be “swiftly brought to justice”.

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

India’s Narendra Modi condemned the attacks as “barbaric” while Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan also offered his “profound condolences” to Sri Lanka.

UK PM Theresa May wrote in a tweet that the “acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling” and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its travel advice.

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

The US State Department issued a travel warning that said “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, where deadly mosque attacks killed 50 last month, said “collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence” .

What is Sri Lanka’s recent history?

Sunday’s attacks are the deadliest seen in Sri Lanka since the end of the country’s civil war in 2009.

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.

The nation has seen some sporadic violence since. 

after members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties.

Religion in Sri Lanka

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

St Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade
Christians are a small minority in Sri Lanka

It is the religion of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority, 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

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.

Presentational grey line

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

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

Blind Japanese sailor completes non-stop Pacific voyage

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto and Doug Smith
Blind sailor Mitsuhiro Iwamoto (L) celebrates with his navigator Doug Smith

A blind Japanese sailor has completed a non-stop Pacific crossing, reportedly making him the first visually impaired person to do so.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto, 52, sailed the 8,700-mile (14,000 km) crossing with the help of a sighted navigator.

His 12m (40 ft) yacht made port in Fukushima on Saturday morning, ending his two-month trip.

He left California on 24 February with Doug Smith, an American navigator who assisted him.

His first attempt at the journey in 2013 ended in failure after his boat struck a whale and sank. He had to be rescued by the Japanese military.

Speaking at the port of Iwaki, he told Japan’s Kyodo News that completing the challenge on his second attempt was a “dream come true”.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto
Mr Iwamoto made port in Fukushima on Saturday morning

“I’m the happiest person on earth,” he said, according to the news agency.

Mr Iwamoto, who lost his sight aged 16, steered the vessel while Mr Smith gave him verbal guidance, advising him on wind directions and potential hazards.

He is the first blind person to successfully sail across the Pacific without stopping, the Japan Blind Sailing Association says.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto
Mr Iwamoto had to be rescued on his first attempt in 2013

Determined to make the crossing second time around, Mr Iwamoto – a Japanese citizen who currently lives in San Diego – took part in triathlons.

“We undertake this voyage not only for personal accomplishment, but to send a message that anything is possible when people come together,” Iwamoto wrote on his website.

He and Mr Smith made the voyage to raise money for charity and for efforts to prevent diseases that cause blindness.

Kabul attack: Explosion and gunfire near ministry building

Kabul soldiers
The attack happened in a busy area of central Kabul

Gunmen attacked the Afghan ministry of information in the centre of the capital Kabul, officials said.

An explosion was heard at 11:40 local time (07:10 GMT) while sporadic gunfire continued for over six hours before officials declared the incident over.

A ministry source said one of the attackers got inside the building.

The attack comes a day after talks between Afghan officials and the Taliban were suspended, but the Taliban said they were not behind the assault.

Although Kabul still sees heavy fighting, this attack follows months of relative calm.

What’s happening on the ground?

The attack happened in a busy area of central Kabul, near one of the city’s most popular hotels, a couple of other ministries, and the presidential palace.

As well as the person who entered the building, another of the attackers detonated his explosives at the boundary wall, and a third was shot dead by police.

The Serena Hotel, which is heavily fortified, is one of the few still used by foreign visitors.

At 18 storeys high, the information ministry building is believed to be one of the tallest in Kabul.

Footage broadcast on local TV showed a small cloud of smoke rising near the tower block, while people tried to climb out of the windows of one of the lower levels, AFP news agency reported.

Hundreds of civilians were evacuated from the building, the ministry said, but six people were injured and taken to hospital.

Evacuated civilians
Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated, officials say

Who is responsible?

The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the organisation was not behind Saturday’s attack.

The Afghan branch of the Islamic State group has carried out a number of deadly attacks in Kabul but has not so far said it was behind this one.

Where are we with peace talks?

The US and the Taliban have been involved in attempts to negotiate a peace process. The sides have held five rounds of direct talks since October 2018, and are now in the middle of their sixth.

A conference between officials from the militant group and about 250 Afghan politicians had been due to take place in the Qatari capital Doha on 20 and 21 April.

But the meeting was abruptly called off on Thursday after the Taliban complained about the size and status of the Afghan delegation.

In a statement, the Taliban accused the Afghan government of “sabotaging this conference and peace efforts”.

Ministry of information building in Kabul
The building is believed to be one of the tallest in Kabul

The goal is to resolve Afghanistan’s civil conflict and negotiate the withdrawal of US forces in the country.

The US also wants the Taliban to guarantee that Afghan territory won’t be used by foreign militants, and that they won’t pose a security threat to the rest of the world.

In 2001 a US-led military coalition overthrew the Taliban for sheltering al-Qaeda, the militant group behind the 9/11 attacks.

US officials say the conflict in Afghanistan now costs them about $45bn (£34bn) a year.

The Taliban currently control and influence more territory than they have at any point in the past 18 years.

India chief justice Gogoi accused of sexual harassment

Ranjan Gogoi
Ranjan Gogoi was appointed chief justice last October

India’s Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been accused of sexual harassment by a former Supreme Court employee.

The 35-year-old woman has filed an affidavit alleging two instances of misconduct in October last year, shortly after Mr Gogoi was appointed.

She says her family was victimised after she refused the advances.

A statement said Mr Gogoi, 64, “totally denied” the “false and scurrilous” accusations. He has labelled them an attempt to “destabilise the judiciary”.

What does the woman allege?

The allegations were filed in a sworn affidavit that has been sent to Supreme Court judges.

In it the married woman, who cannot be named under Indian law, alleges the misconduct occurred on 10 and 11 October at the offices in Mr Gogoi’s residence.

She alleges Mr Gogoi “hugged me around the waist, and touched me all over my body with his arms” and pressed his body against her.

When he did not stop, she says she “was forced to push him away from me with my hands”.

The woman says Mr Gogoi then told her not to mention what had happened or her family “would be greatly disturbed”.

The woman alleges she was transferred three times, then fired in December. She says her husband and brother were both suspended from their jobs.

In March a resident of the city of Jhajjar filed a complaint alleging she had kept money she had taken as a bribe to get him a job at the court.

She denies the accusation and says she attended a police station with family members in March where they were subjected to abusive treatment.

“It now seems like the harassment, victimisation, and torture will not stop unless I speak out about the origin and motive for the harassment,” she alleges in the affidavit.

What has Mr Gogoi said?

The first response came in a statement from the secretary general of the Supreme Court on the chief justice’s behalf.

It says the allegations are “completely and absolutely false and scurrilous and are totally denied”.

It says the woman “had no occasion to interact directly with the chief justice”.

The statement refers to the criminal case of bribery lodged against the woman, saying: “It appears that these false allegations are being made as a pressure tactic to somehow come out of the various proceedings which have been initiated in law.”

It says the employee was dismissed “as per procedure” after an incident of “inappropriate conduct”.

Mr Gogoi himself addressed the issue in front of a special bench of the Supreme Court on Saturday.

“I don’t want to stoop so low as to answer these charges,” he said. “All employees of the Supreme Court are treated respectfully by me.”

He added: “There are forces that are trying to destabilise the judiciary. There are bigger forces behind these allegations hurled at me.”

Leica China video sparks backlash over Tiananmen Square image


A man stands in front of three tanks
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the pro-democracy protests

A promotional video for camera company Leica has sparked backlash in China for featuring a famous Tiananmen Square image.

The video depicts photographers working in conflicts around the world, including a photographer covering the 1989 protests.

People on Chinese social media site Weibo have called for a boycott of the camera brand.

Leica has distanced itself from the video.

“Tank Man” was a lone protester who brought a column of tanks to a standstill during a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing in 1989.

He refused to move out of the way and climbed onto the leading tank to speak to the driver. He was later pulled away from the scene by two men. What happened to him remains unknown.

Beginning with the caption “Beijing 1989”, the Leica video features a photographer taking the famous image . The “Tank Man” can be seen in the camera’s lens.

Users on Chinese social media site Weibo have been forbidden from commenting on recent official posts by Leica. However some people are managing to post carefully worded comments on earlier official Leica posts, BBC Monitoring has found.

A search of the hashtag Leica shows that 42,000 users have left posts on Weibo but only 10 are available to view.

Some comments urge users to “boycott the camera” and joke about the company being linked to “patriotic Huawei”.

Chinese technology giant Huawei has been restricted by the US and other countries over security concerns in telecommunications networks. Consumers in China have rallied around the company, which uses Leica technology in its latest mobile phones.

A spokeswoman for Leica told the South China Morning Post that the film was not an officially sanctioned marketing film commissioned by the company. However it features Leica cameras and the company’s logo at the end of the footage.

They added that the company “must therefore distance itself from the content shown in the video and regrets any misunderstandings of false conclusions that may have been drawn”.

The BBC has contacted Leica for additional comment.

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How China keeps Tiananmen off the internet

China has banned all activists’ commemorations of the 1989 Tiananmen incident for years and has strictly regulated online discussion of it.

If users search for “Tiananmen” on domestic search engines like Baidu or social media platforms like Sina Weibo, they only see sunny pictures of the Forbidden City in Beijing. If any pictures of tanks running along Chang’an Avenue are visible in image searches, they are only from Victory Day parades.

Hundreds of references to 4 June 1989 are banned all-year round by thousands of cyber police, and Weibo steps up censorship of even seemingly innocuous references to the incident on its anniversary.

Simple candle emojis, and number sequences that reference the date, such as “46” and “64” (4 June) and “1989” (the year of the protests), are instantly deleted. Small businesses also struggle to market items on 4 June every year, if their sale price is 46 or 64 yuan. Such advertising posts are swiftly removed by nervous censors.

But creative users always find ways of circumventing the censors. For example in 2014, when Taylor Swift released her 1989 album, the album cover featuring the words “T.S.” and “1989” was seen as an effective metaphor by users to talk about the incident – as T.S. could be taken to mean “Tiananmen Square”.

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More than one million Chinese students and workers occupied Tiananmen Square in 1989, beginning the largest political protest in communist China’s history. Six weeks of protests ended with the bloody crackdown on protesters of 3-4 June.

Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to more than 1,000.

China’s statement at the end of June 1989 said that 200 civilians and several dozen security personnel had died in Beijing following the suppression of “counter-revolutionary riots” on 4 June 1989.

India election 2019: The debunked fake news that keeps coming back

Voters line up in Uttar Pradesh state

The largest democratic exercise in history is under way to decide who will govern India for the next five years – but there are serious concerns about the extent of false information circulating online.

In the lead-up to the vote, there have been vigorous efforts by fact-checking organisations and social media platforms to debunk misleading information or misrepresentation.

These efforts are a first step, but it’s clear that false information is still being spread.

Reality Check looks at some of the misleading rumours that have persisted during this election campaign.

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Sonia Gandhi and the Queen

A false story that has been widely shared on social media claims Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born leader of the main opposition Congress party, is richer than the Queen. But the story was debunked six years ago.

In a country where income inequality is a highly emotive issue, inaccurate stories about levels of personal wealth, particularly of politicians, can be highly damaging to reputations.

The story has its origins in newspaper articles dating back to 2012.

Local reports picking up on claim that Sonia Gandhi is richer than the Queen

And the Huffington Post published a rich list of world leaders that included Sonia Gandhi in 2013, but later removed her name after the amount they said she was worth was called into question.

Mrs Gandhi declared assets worth 90 million rupees (around £1m) during the last elections in 2014. Estimates of the Queen’s wealth are far higher.

But the story has still been widely shared during this election campaign, including by a spokesman for the ruling BJP.

Separately, Mrs Gandhi has also been the target of posts that claim to show her as a young woman in photographs in glamorous settings, with comments questioning her moral standards.

But the photographs being shared are of famous Hollywood actresses and are nothing to do with Mrs Gandhi.

Narendra Modi at school

Another widely shared story concerns the educational qualifications of the current prime minister.

The son of a tea-seller in Gujarat state, Narendra Modi makes much of his modest upbringing and it plays well with many of his supporters.

He says he succeeded in completing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

A video in circulation, however, apparently featured Mr Modi saying he hadn’t studied beyond high school (10th grade). It has been shared by Congress supporters.

But the video is just one part of an old interview in which Mr Modi makes clear his higher education qualifications were attained through external exams after leaving formal schooling.

The shorter, misleading video clip, despite having its context clarified, is still circulating on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The surveys that weren’t

The spreading of fake opinion surveys and non-existent awards are particular favourites on social media.

There was a story doing the rounds for quite a while that the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) had named Mr Modi as the world’s best prime minister.

It was patently false as Unesco does not have such an award.

However, the story has persisted and has been back in circulation during the election campaign.

In a similar vein, the BBC has falsely been named as the source of surveys declaring Congress the fourth most corrupt political party in the world.

The BBC has also been used in fake stories spreading on social media suggesting it has predicted a win for the BJP.

Yet other fake posts suggest the BBC predicts that Congress are leading in the polls.

The BBC has made it clear that it does not conduct election surveys in India.

Fake fingers?

Plenty of false information about voting procedures can also spread during election campaigns.

In India every voter is required to dip a finger in purple dye so they can’t vote more than once.

Voter's finger being marked

One false rumour that has resurfaced this month claims that prosthetic fingers are being used to allow people to vote multiple times.

The idea here, presumably, is that you’d dip the fake finger in the ink, then return to vote again using your own real finger, or perhaps another fake finger.

How can the fake news problem be tackled?

Although some social media organisations have begun to devote resources to tackling viral fake news  it is an immense task.

The flow of information in private networks cannot really be controlled despite efforts by social media platforms, says Professor Usha Rodrigues, from Melbourne’s Deakin University, who studies social media and Indian politics.

For those inclined to believe a story, “they may not believe the information is false even after it’s been debunked”, she says.

“And the social media machinery of political parties may continue to insert the false information in their distribution of various messages for political gain.”

India election 2019: The debunked fake news that keeps coming back
Smartphone usage in India has been growing rapidly

Messages tend to be shared within trusted circles with algorithms only encouraging confirmation biases, says Kanchan Kaur, an India assessor for the International Fact-Checking Network.

Users tend to share videos in particular “because seeing is believing”, according to Shalini Narayan, co-author of India Connected: Mapping the Impact of New Media.

Online searches may prioritise fact-checked results, but Ms Rodrigues says the debunked details might not reach the private networks where false information is shared.

 

China bans three marathon cheat runners for life

Runners competing at the Boston Marathon on Monday 15 April
Runners competing at the Boston Marathon on Monday, 15 April

Three Chinese marathon runners have been banned from competing for life after breaking the rules at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

One participant gave his bib to someone else while the other two used forged certificates to gain entry.

The Chinese Athletic Association (CAA) has vowed to root out cheats to avoid giving the country a bad name.

The sport is rapidly growing in China, with 1,500 running events last year compared to just 22 in 2011.

More than 500 Chinese runners took part in the marathon in Boston.

With the increase in popularity there have been numerous cases of cheating, such as people taking shortcuts and one woman jumping on a bike to complete a portion of a race in China.

The CAA said it banned the trio from all future races because they had a “negative impact” on China in the international community.

The Xinhua news agency said the sporting association would continue to crack down on all kinds of cheats in marathons “in order to build a healthy and clean environment of road running in China”.