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Sri Lankan police are searching for 140 suspects thought to have links with the Islamic State terror group after the Easter Sunday bombings, the country’s president has said.

Maithripala Sirisena also told reporters that the country had the ability to “completely control the situation in the next few days”.

The date would mark 10 days since the nine suicide bombings that left more than 250 people dead.

Sky’s Asia correspondent Tom Cheshire, who is in the capital Colombo, said: “That’s hardly reassuring, the idea that maybe in the next few days they will have things under control.”

Sri Lanka’s health ministry drastically revised down its estimated death toll down from 359 late on Thursday.

Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena, left, with the country's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
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Sri Lanka’s President Sirisena (left) with the country’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe

Travel operator TUI UK made a decision to fly all of its customers on holiday in the country back home on Saturday 27 April.

It comes after the UK’s foreign office advised Britons not to travel to Sri Lanka in the wake of the attacks.

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Mr Sirisena has blamed Sri Lanka’s defence secretary, who resigned Thursday, and police chief, who he said would soon step down, for a failure to share weeks of information from international intelligence agencies about the bombings ahead of time.

There was a visible security presence across Colombo on Friday as authorities warned of another attack and pursued suspects that could have access to explosives.

Armed soldiers stood guard outside St Anthony’s Shrine, one of the three churches attacked, and nearby shops were also closed.

Sri Lankan authorities have told Muslims to pray at home rather than attend communal Friday prayers, the most important of the week.

Armed soldiers stand guard outside a mosque during Friday prayers
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Armed soldiers stand guard outside a mosque during Friday prayers

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an interview on Thursday that he feared some of the suspects “may go out for a suicide attack”.

Some mosques have been holding communal prayers despite the warnings.

Sri Lankan authorities have said the suspected leader of the group they believe carried out the attacks died in one of the nine bombings.

Mohamed Zahran, head of local militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath, was known for his vitriolic speeches on social media.

Police also said they have arrested the group’s second-in-command.

They added investigators had determined that the assailants’ military training was provided by someone they called “Army Mohideen”, and that weapons training had taken place overseas and at some locations in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province.

Police added that the vehicles used in the attack were purchased from a car dealership in Kadawatha, a suburb of Colombo.

Officers also said that the attackers had worked out at a local gym and by playing football using their authentic national identity cards.

Family members mourn the death of an eight-month-old boy
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Family members mourn the death of an eight-month-old boy

They said the operator of a copper factory, who was arrested in connection with the bombings, had helped Mohideen make improvised explosive devices and purchase empty cartridges sold by the Sri Lankan military as scrap copper.

A photograph obtained by Sky News showed a suspected suicide bomber who studied in Britain, according to a security source.

In the image, Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, 36, is seen bearded with a rucksack, thought to contain explosives, with a suitcase at the Taj hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier on Friday it had been confirmed that the Sri Lanka attackers were supported by the IS group, which has claimed responsibility for the massacre, distributing video of Zahran and others pledging allegiance to the caliphate.



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CCTV shows Sri Lanka attacker outside hotel

Australia’s government has warned potential travellers that “terrorists are likely to carry out further attacks in Sri Lanka”.

TUI UK has started contacting customers in Sri Lanka resorts to offer them a new flight time.

The company said in a statement: “Following the change in advice by the Foreign Office advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka, TUI UK has made the decision to fly all customers currently on holiday back to the UK on Saturday 27th April and have cancelled all excursions on Friday 26th April.”

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Saudi Arabia: Moderate Islamic scholars ‘to be executed’ | World News

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Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to execute three moderate Islamic scholars despite the international outrage that followed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sheikh Salman al Odah, a Muslim preacher with a million strong social media following, will be killed after the holy month of Ramadan say reports.

Sunni preacher and academic Awad al-Qarni and broadcaster Ali al-Omari, will also be executed say sources quoted in MiddleEastEye.net.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured while meeting with the Tunisian President during his arrival at the presidential palace in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
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Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the regime is even less tolerant

Amnesty International says more than 100 people have been executed this year, some beheaded and some crucified, including some younger than 18 when they were arrested.

Many of them have been Shia Muslims. The three named as next in line for execution are all Sunni.

Under de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the Saudi regime has been even less tolerant of dissent than before.

Several women driving activists remain in jail even though the government has now ended the ban on women being behind the wheel.

Their relatives say they have been abused and subjected to threats of torture and rape.

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul caused international outrage last year and led to intense pressure on the country’s leadership.

The CIA and other observers believe it was carried out on orders from Mohammed bin Salman.

Jamal Khashoggi was killed after going into the consulate on 2 October
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The reports suggest outrage around the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has had no impact

In an interview with Sky News shortly before his death, Mr Khashoggi expressed intense concern about the arrest of the three now facing execution, pointing out they were supporters of the kind of reforms their government claimed to be implementing.

The UK has defended maintaining close ties with the Saudi regime. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has visited the country several times since the Khashoggi murder.

The Foreign Office says those ties help the UK influence the Saudis.

But if these latest reports are true, such influence has failed to change minds in Riyadh.

The Saudi leadership appears undeterred and determined to continue its policy of zero tolerance of dissent with lethal effect.

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Two-metre sea level rise would have ‘profound impact on humanity’ | World News

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Global sea levels could rise by more than two metres causing catastrophic consequences for the world, according to a team of scientists.

Such a rise could result in the loss of 1.79 million km2 of land, including critical regions of food production, and the potential displacement of up to 187 million people.

Traditional methods for predicting rising sea levels from the melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic are based on numerical modelling, but these remain challenging due to changing factors.

A team of international scientists used a technique called structured expert judgement to ask 22 ice sheet experts to estimate plausible ranges for future sea level rises.

They asked them to consider the projected melting of each of the Greenland, West Antarctic and East Antarctic ice sheets under low and high future global temperature rise scenarios.

Lead author professor Jonathan Bamber, from the University of Bristol, said: “Structured expert judgement provides a formal approach for estimating uncertain quantities based on current scientific understanding, and can be useful for estimating quantities that are difficult to model.

“Projections of total global subsequent sea level rise using this method yielded a small but meaningful probability of subsequent sea level rise exceeding two metres by the year 2100 under the high temperature scenario, roughly equivalent to ‘business as usual’, well above the ‘likely’ upper limit presented in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Prof Bamber added: “Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 million km2, including critical regions of food production, and potential displacement of up to 187 million people.

“A subsequent sea level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound consequences for humanity.”

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com.

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Monks to resurrect ‘lost’ beer from 12th century – it’s 10.8% | World News

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Monks at an abbey in Belgium will be brewing beer again after a 200-year break.

The Grimbergen Abbey was ransacked and the brewery smashed in 1795 by French troops and the monks stopped brewing their own beer.

But plans to build a new brewery have been approved and the monks expect to have their first ales by the end of 2020.

Norbertine Father Karel poses with a Grimbergen beer, symbolised by a phoenix, in the courtyard of the Belgian Abbey of Grimbergen before announcing that the monks will return to brewing after a break of two centuries, in Grimbergen, Belgium May 21, 2019.  REUTERS/Yves Herman
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The monks have had a 200-year break from brewing

Father Karel Stautemas, one of 11 Norbertine canons living in the abbey, said he wouldn’t encourage people to drink too much of the beer, which is 10.8% alcohol by volume.

“One or two is okay,” said Grimbergen mayor Chris Selleslagh.

Father Stautemas took a brewing course in Copenhagen and will become one of five or six workers at the new brewery.

“For us, it’s important to look to the heritage, to the tradition of the fathers for brewing beer because it was always here,” he said.

“Brewing and religious life always came together.”

The monks spent four years researching the methods and recipe for the abbey’s traditional brew, as it was all thought to have been lost when it was ransacked.

But Father Stautemas told The Guardian no one could read the old books, because they were in old Latin and old Dutch.

Norbertine Father Karel marks a barrel of Grimbergen beer, symbolised by a phoenix, at the Belgian Abbey of Grimbergen after announcing that the monks will return to brewing after a break of two centuries, in Grimbergen, Belgium May 21, 2019.  REUTERS/Yves Herman
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The monks had been linked with brewing as their name and logo was used on Maes Abbey Beer

He said: “We’ve spent hours leafing through the books and have discovered ingredient lists for beers brewed in previous centuries, the hops used, the types of barrels and bottles, and even a list of the actual beers produced centuries ago.”

But only some of the same methods and recipes will be transferred, as ale was a “bit tasteless” in those times.

Norbertine Father Karel toasts with a Grimbergen beer, symbolised by a phoenix, at the Belgian Abbey of Grimbergen after announcing that the monks will return to brewing after a break of two centuries, in Grimbergen, Belgium May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
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There will also be a gift shop in the new brewery

Marc-Antoine Sochon, an expert at Carlsberg who will be the project’s brewmaster, said: “We will keep the same yeast, which will bring all the fruitiness and spiciness and we will start to dig into more innovations, such as barrel-ageing, dry-hopping.”

The abbey, which was founded in 1128, has been tied to commercial brewers since the 1950s, when brewer Maes asked the monks to use their name and their emblem, the phoenix, on its abbey beer.

Norbertine Father Karel is seen behind a board showing Grimbergen beers, symbolised by a phoenix, at the Belgian Abbey of Grimbergen after announcing that the monks will return to brewing after a break of two centuries, in Grimbergen, Belgium May 21, 2019.  REUTERS/Yves Herman
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They hope to be brewing by the end of 2020

That beer is still manufactured, by Heineken’s Alken-Maes for Belgium and Carlsberg for other markets. The abbey earns royalties.

The abbey has planted hops in the garden and plans to also open a visitors centre.

Monks will stick to the Trappist beer maker rules, even though they aren’t Trappist, and will brew within the abbey walls, control the brewing and put the profits into maintaining the abbey and supporting charitable causes.

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