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U.S. Warns Columbia Stating Additional Attacks May Occur

As the government faces an outpouring of public anger over the failure to heed the warnings, senior officials admit it has been a "major lapse."

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Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan police officers perform a security check on a truck at a roadside in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 25, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo has advised people to avoid places of worship in Sri Lanka over the coming weekend, citing Sri Lankan reports that additional attacks may occur.

“Continue to remain vigilant and avoid large crowds,” the embassy said Thursday on its official Twitter account.

The warning comes days after a devastating attack on Christian worshipers on Easter Sunday when suicide bombers killed more than 350 people.

Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Hemasriri Fernando quit Thursday in the wake of the bombings, heeding calls from Sri Lanka’s president for his resignation.

People who live near the church that was attacked yesterday, leave their houses as the military try to defuse a suspected van before it exploded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 22, 2019. VOA

President Maithripala Sirisena had called on Fernando as well as the police chief Pujith Jayasundara to step down after he promised in a televised address to take stern action against officials who did not share with him the intelligence alerts that came from India days prior to the bombing of churches and luxury hotels.

As the government faces an outpouring of public anger over the failure to heed the warnings, senior officials admit it has been a “major lapse.”

Fernando said that there had been no failure on his own part, but he resigned to take responsibility for the failures of some institutions he headed, Reuters reported.

sri lanka attack, morocco
Sri Lankan police clear the area while Special Task Force Bomb Squad officers inspect the site of an exploded van near a church that was attacked yesterday in Colombo, April 22, 2019. VOA

Reports say Indian intelligence agencies sent out several warnings to Sri Lanka, and that Indian security agencies had gathered details about Islamic militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ), which is suspected of carrying out the attacks.

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The government also faces scrutiny on whether bitter political wrangling between Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe contributed to the failure to act upon warnings about the attacks. Wickremesinghe said that there had been a “breakdown in communication.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings. (VOA)

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Man Accused in Christchurch Mosque Shootings Charged with Terrorism

The single charge filed Tuesday against Australian Brenton Tarrant is the first of its kind

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Man, Christchurch, Mosque, Terrorism
Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand, March 16, 2019. (Suspect's face blurred at source) VOA

Authorities in New Zealand have charged the self-avowed white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques back in March with terrorism.

The single charge filed Tuesday against Australian Brenton Tarrant is the first of its kind under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act, which was passed in 2002 in the wake of the al-Qaida-led terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. the previous year. Prosecutors have also charged him with an additional count of murder over a worshipper who died in the hospital earlier this month, along with two additional counts of attempted murder, bringing that number to 40.

Up to 200 family members of the victims and survivors of the attack were informed of the new charges at a private meeting with police.

The 28-year-old Tarrant live-streamed the March 15 shootings at the al-Noor and Linwood mosques on Facebook from a head-mounted camera.

Man, Christchurch, Mosque, Terrorism
Authorities in New Zealand have charged the self-avowed white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques. Flickr

He is currently being held at a maximum security prison where he was ordered to undergo psychiatric tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. His next court date is June 14.

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The 28-year-old Tarrant e-mailed a lengthy white nationalist manifesto to more than 30 recipients just minutes before the attacks – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – in which he allegedly denounced Muslims and called immigrants “invaders.” (VOA)