Death Toll of Explosions in Sri Lanka Rises to at Least

Rabat – Sri Lanka lived a nightmare Sunday during Easter celebrations as bomb blasts rocked three churches and three hotels, killing at least 207 people.The explosions resulted in the injuries of more than 500 others.The explosions hit churches in the cities of of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa. The blasts also hit the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo.International news outlets said that authorities have arrested seven suspects in connection with the attacks.The country’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe denounced the attacks, calling on people to remain united and strong.“I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he said.“The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation,” he added.After visiting the Shangri-La and St. Anthony’s Church, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, commented on the attacks via Twitter saying, , “Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Emergency crews are at all locations in full force.We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives.”He added that several foreigners were among the victims of the explosions.All Easter services and celebrations have been cancelled due to the explosions. read more

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Hambantota port agreement submitted to Parliament

The Hambantota port agreement was submitted to Parliament today by Ports Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.Under the agreement the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchant Port Holdings Company Ltd will establish the Hambantota International Port Services Co. (Pvt) Ltd – with a capital of USD 606 million and 50.7% shares to SLPA and 49.3% to CMPort. The Hambantota International Port Group (Pvt) Ltd – with a capital of USD 794 million and 15% shares to SLPA and 85% to CMPort as in SAGT terminal and CICT terminal will also be established. After 99 years of effective date all the shares of CMPort and affiliated companies should be transferred to SLPA at a rate of USD 01.The sole authority of managing the defence situation of the port is Sri Lankan Government and use of the port in military activities is prevented. (Colombo Gazette) Accordingly, instead of 80:20 share distribution in the initial agreement shares of overall investment will be revised as 69.55 to CMPort and 30.45 for SLPA. The lands will be only given to newly establishing two companies on lease basis and their shares are allowed to be purchases by SLPA after 70 years of effective date of agreement at a fare rate decided by Government Assessor and an independent assessor.After 80 years of the effective date SLPA has the right to purchase shares of CMPort and its affiliated companies at a rate of USD 01 as the SLPA’s share holding in HIGP to be 60% and HIPS to be 76.8%. read more

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