Sri Lanka forces on patrol after anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lankan soldiers patrol a road in the North Western Province on top of an armored vehicle to prevent fresh mob violence in the region. (FIle/Reuters)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Sri Lanka forces on patrol after anti-Muslim riots

  • But some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP

COLOMBO: Troops and police patrolled parts of Sri Lanka on Thursday as international pressure mounted on Colombo to contain anti-Muslim riots that killed one man in a backlash against the Easter terror attacks.

Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said there were no incidents of violence in the 24 hours ending Thursday morning, but security forces continued to carry out search operations.

Police said they had detained at least 112 suspects by Wednesday evening and more arrests were being carried out to ensure there was no repetition of the riots that saw Muslim homes, businesses and mosques attacked. A night curfew in North-Western Province (NWP), which has seen the worst of the anti-Muslim backlash after the suicide bombings on April 21, was relaxed on Thursday morning.

But some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP.

Meanwhile, Colombo-based ambassadors of European nations expressed concern over the communal violence.

“We welcome the arrests made in connection with the violence, and call on the government to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that the law is applied equally to all instigators and perpetrators of communal violence,” a joint statement by the diplomats said.

They urged the government to take measures to reassure all citizens that it will protect and uphold their safety and their rights.

A shopkeeper in Minuwangoda, one of the worst affected towns just north of Colombo, said roads were reopened on Thursday amid a heavy military and police presence.

“I normally have about 30 customers in the morning, but today there were just three,” the electronic goods seller told AFP by telephone. “Banks have opened, but it will take a few weeks before we get back to our normal routine.”

There were similar reports from other riot-scarred towns.

The Easter attacks claimed 258 lives and were blamed on a local extremist group which pledged allegiance to the Daesh.

Muslims in Sri Lanka have been bracing for revenge attacks after the terrorists hit three churches and three luxury hotels.

A state of emergency has been in place since the suicide bombings and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects.

Sri Lanka has also blocked access to social media platforms to prevent what it called the spread of rumors that incited violence.


US says anyone who allows Iran tanker Adrian Darya I to dock risks sanctions

Updated 21 August 2019
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US says anyone who allows Iran tanker Adrian Darya I to dock risks sanctions

  • Greece says it received no docking request from tanker
  • Iran says Iranian court to hear case of detained UK tanker

UNITED NATIONS: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says anyone who “touches,” supports or allows an Iranian tanker carrying crude oil to dock risks US sanctions.
He told reporters Tuesday that if an Iranian supertanker that left Gibraltar on Sunday again heads to Syria, “we’ll take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that.”
Greece said earlier in the day that it had not had a request from the Adrian Darya 1, the vessel at the center of a dispute between Iran and the United States, to dock at one of its ports, as Washington warned Greece against helping the vessel.
The tanker, formerly called Grace 1, left Gibraltar on Sunday. Ship-tracking data on Tuesday showed the vessel was heading toward the Greek port of Kalamata on the southern coast of the Peloponnese and was scheduled to arrive next Monday.
“We have made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States,” Pompeo told reporters at the United Nations.
He said that if the tanker’s oil was sold, the revenue would be used by elite units of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. “We want to deny them the resources to continue their horrific terror campaign,” Pompeo said.
The tanker is carrying about 2 million barrels of oil.
“The vessel is cruising at low speed and there is still no formal announcement that it will arrive at Kalamata. The Merchant Marine Ministry is monitoring the matter along with Greece’s Foreign Ministry,” a Greek Shipping Ministry spokesman said.

The Iranian flag flies on oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, as it sits anchored in Gibraltar, Spain, on August 18, 2019. (REUTERS/Jon Nazca)

The ship, which is now sailing under an Iranian flag, was released from detention off Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
Soon after the detention order was lifted, a US federal court ordered the seizure of the vessel on different grounds, but that petition was rejected by Gibraltar.
Tehran said any US move to seize the vessel again would have “heavy consequences.” The United States in turn has also conveyed its “strong position” to the Greek government over the tanker.
Washington wants the tanker detained on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which it has designated a terrorist organization.
The European Union, of which Greece is a member, bans oil sales to Syria and the United States has sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

Impact on detained UK tanker?
The fate of the Adrian Darya 1 could also have a bearing on that of a British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz leading into the Gulf two weeks after British Royal Marine commandos seized what was then known as the Grace 1.
Speculation has mounted that the Stena Impero could be freed once the Adrian Darya 1 had set sail, although Iranian officials have denied any link between the two cases.
Deputy Transport Minister Mohammad Rastad said the case of Stena Impero had been submitted to a court in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported, without giving a date when it would be heard.
The handling of the Adrian Darya 1 will be a major foreign policy test for Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a pro-Western conservative elected in July.
Any efforts to assist the tanker could be construed as providing material support to a US-designated foreign terrorist organization, which has immigration and potential criminal consequences, a US State Department official said.
A Greek diplomatic source cited by the state Athens News Agency said the country was in communication with the United States on the matter, but did not say what Greece would do.
“(The US) position on the specific issue is known and has been communicated not only to Greece but other states and ports in the Mediterranean,” the source said.
It is standard practice for a vessel to give 48 hours’ notice before docking at a port, Greek officials said.
It was not clear where the ship might head if Greece refused it permission to dock.
Cyprus, farther east, has bitter experience from seizing Iranian products destined for Syria. Munitions it confiscated exploded in 2011, causing the island’s worst peacetime disaster.