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South Africa: 6 suspected murderer of Kathrada relatives abandon bail application

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The trial of the nine men accused of murdering the relatives of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada has been postponed to December 5, when three of the accused are expected to apply for bail.



The accused appeared in the Schweizer-Reneke Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where six of them abandoned their bail application, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said. 

Kathrada’s nephew Yunus Kathrada, 65, and his son, 28, also named Ahmed, were killed in their home in Schweizer-Reneke in the North West on October 30. 

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A day after the incident, a task team was established and followed up on information which led to the arrests of the nine men on November 6.

The nine face charges of murder and one of attempted robbery.

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A gun and two vehicles, believed to have been used in the murders, were confiscated during their arrests.

The accused will remain in custody until their next court appearance, Myburgh said.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Sri Lanka Update: Hundreds of Muslim flee Negombo fearing for their safety after threats of revenge from locals.

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Source: Reuters

As mourners buried the remains of Christian worshippers killed by the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, hundreds of Muslim refugees fled Negombo on the country’s west coast where communal tensions have flared in recent days.

At least 359 people perished in the coordinated series of blasts targeting churches and hotels. Church leaders believe the final toll from the attack on St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo could be close to 200, almost certainly making Negombo the deadliest of the six near-simultaneous attacks.

On Wednesday, hundreds of Pakistani Muslims fled the multi-ethnic port an hour north of the capital, Colombo. Crammed into buses organized by community leaders and police, they left fearing for their safety after threats of revenge from locals.

“Because of the bomb blasts and explosions that have taken place here, the local Sri Lankan people have attacked our houses,” Adnan Ali, a Pakistani Muslim, told Reuters as he prepared to board a bus. “Right now we don’t know where we will go.”

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, yet despite Islamic State being a Sunni jihadist group, many of the Muslims fleeing Negombo belong to the Ahmadi community, who had been hounded out of Pakistan years ago after their sect was declared non-Muslim.

The fallout from Sunday’s attacks appears set to render them homeless once more.

Farah Jameel, a Pakistani Ahmadi, said she had been thrown out of her house by her landlord.

“She said ‘get out of here and go wherever you want to go, but don’t live here’,” she told Reuters, gathered with many others at the Ahmadiyya Mosque, waiting for buses to take them to a safe location. “I HAVE NOTHING NOW”

Sri Lanka’s government is in disarray over the failure to prevent the attacks, despite repeated warnings from intelligence sources.

Police have detained an unspecified number of people were detained in western Sri Lanka, the scene of anti-Muslim riots in 2014, in the wake of the attacks, and raids were carried out in neighborhoods around St Sebastian’s Church.

Police played down the threats to the refugees, but said they have been inundated with calls from locals casting suspicion on Pakistanis in Negombo.

“We have to search houses if people suspect,” said Herath BSS Sisila Kumara, the officer in charge at Katara police station, where 35 of the Pakistanis that gathered at the mosque were taken into police custody for their own protection, before being sent to an undisclosed location.

“All the Pakistanis have been sent to safe houses,” he said. “Only they will decide when they come back.”

Two kilometers away, makeshift wooden crosses marked the new graves at the sandy cemetery of St Sebastian’s Church, as the latest funerals on Wednesday took the number buried there to 40.

Channa Repunjaya, 49, was at home when he heard about the blast at St Sebastian’s. His wife, Chandralata Dassanaike and nine-year-old daughter Meeranhi both died.

“I felt like committing suicide when I heard that they had died,” he told Reuters by the open graves. “I have nothing now.”

Meeranhi’s grandmother, with her head still bandaged after being wounded in the attack, was held by a relative as the first handfuls of earth were scattered upon her child-sized coffin.

Most of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people are Buddhist, but the Indian Ocean island’s population includes Muslim, Hindu and Christian minorities. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island’s conflict and communal tensions.

There were signs of some religious communities pulling together following Sunday’s outrage.

Saffron- and scarlet-robed Buddhist monks from a nearby monastery handed out bottled water to mourners who gathered under a baking afternoon sun.

But the town, which has a long history of sheltering refugees – including those made homeless by a devastating tsunami in 2004 – may struggle to recover from Sunday’s violence, said Father Jude Thomas, one of dozens of Catholic priests who attended Wednesday’s burials.

“Muslims and Catholics lived side by side,” he said. “It was always a peaceful area, but now things have come to the surface we cannot control.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Heavy bombardment leaves at least 17 dead.

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Source: Reuters

At least 17 people were killed on Wednesday in an explosion in the center of Jisr al Shughour, a rebel-held city in northwestern Syria, a day after heavy Russian air strikes in the vicinity, rescue workers and residents said.Several residential buildings collapsed as a result of the blast in Idlib province, near a road between the coastal city of Latakia and city of Aleppo.

“The casualties are expected to rise. The cause is not known,” said Ahmad Yaziji, head of civil defense in the city, adding at least 27 people, mostly civilians, were injured.

Bodies were still being pulled out of the rubble, another rescuer said.

The province and areas around it in northern Syria, the last remaining rebel bastion, have seen an escalation in attacks by Russian warplanes and the Syrian army even though they are protected by a “de-escalation zone” agreement brokered last year between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The bombardment has sent people fleeing from opposition-held towns in the buffer zone that straddles parts of Idlib to northern Hama and parts of Latakia province.

Turkey, which has supported the rebels and has troops to monitor the truce, has been negotiating with Moscow to halt the Russian strikes with little success.

Russian jets hovered in the sky with missile strikes reported in several villages around Jisr al Shughour, residents said.

Overnight, Russian jets struck western parts of Idlib city and residents said long-range missiles hit several villages surrounding Jisr al Shugour from army positions in Latakia province.

Jisr al Shughour has been a target of heavy bombardment by the Russian air force and the Syrian army in recent weeks. Most of its inhabitants have fled to the safety of areas close to the Turkish border, residents and local officials say.

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