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24 Hours Across Africa

Catholics Remember Bombing Victims in Sri Lanka

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Source: Reuters

Weeping Sri Lankan Catholics lit candles and prayed in a memorial service outside a bombed church a month after Islamic militants Easter bombings that killed over 250 people.

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The April 21 attacks, claimed by militant group Islamic State, targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, shocking the island and shattering a decade of relative peace after the end of a 25-year civil war.

Hundreds of worshipers, including survivors and relatives of the victims, gathered outside St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Catholic church in the capital, Colombo, for the ceremony.

“I did not want to come here,” said Gloria, one of those attending, as she wiped away tears.

“But we came to remember our daddy who left us,” added the 17-year-old, who was accompanied by her mother and 14-year-old sister, Sophia.

Gloria, who declined to give her surname, said she lost consciousness during the attack, and opened her eyes to see her sister crawling towards her and her father bleeding.

The navy is repairing the white-painted church, which is covered in scaffolding, and police with sniffer dogs patrolled the area.

Some Christian schools also re-opened on Tuesday amid tight security. The city’s archbishop had complained about insufficient security around churches, and many parents have kept their children at home for fears of renewed attacks.

Authorities say the threat of more Islamist militant attacks has been contained and that security services have dismantled most of the network linked to the Easter Sunday bombings.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Israel election: Netanyahu, Gantz battle too close

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Israel’s election was too close to call on Wednesday, with a partial vote tally showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tied with his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz.

An official result was still hours, perhaps days off. But with more than 63 percent of votes counted, theis  Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc was, as expected, more or less even with Gantz’s center-left.

With no single-party majority in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, there will likely be weeks of coalition talks before a new government is formed.

The ballot’s wildcard, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, emerged as a likely kingmaker as head of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

Lieberman has been pushing for a unity government comprised of the biggest parties. He declined to back Netanyahu’s bid to form a narrow right-wing and religious coalition after an April election, bringing about Tuesday’s unprecedented repeat vote.

Addressing Likud party faithful, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, sipped water frequently and spoke hoarsely. He made no claim of victory or concession of defeat, saying he would await final results.

His dead-of-night appearance was a far cry from his triumphant – and in the end premature – declaration five months ago that he had won a close election.

Gantz was more upbeat, telling a rally of his Blue and White party that it appeared “we fulfilled our mission”, and he pledged to work toward forming of a unity government.

Reuters

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24 Hours Across Africa

Inflation rate falls to 1.7%

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 The office for National statistics says the consumer price index is 1.7%-down from 2.1% – in August

Head of inflation at ONS Mike Hardie said: “The inflation rate has fallen noticeably into August, to its lowest since late 2016. This was mainly driven by a decrease in computer game prices, plus clothing prices rising by less than year after the end of the summer sales.

“Annual growth in house prices slowed to its lowest rate since September 2012, with four of the nine English regions now seeing prices falling over the year”.

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