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SOURCE: ET

A former head of Sri Lanka’s military intelligence and close aide of the Rajapaksa family is allegedly trying to hinder probes by various countries into the deaths of their citizens in the recent terror attacks at China’s behest. Major General (Retd) Kapila Hendawitharana, who headed military intelligence during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime and is the current head of security for the Shangri-La Hotels in Sri Lanka, is said to be obstructing the investigations into the Easter bombings, ET has learnt.

According to audio tapes heard by ET, Hendawitharana is allegedly conniving with Chinese security agencies to sabotage the probes. China fears the investigations would allow many countries to expand their presence in the island nation and adversely affect Chinese interests there. Sri Lanka, while absent from the second edition of the BRI summit, is a key pillar in Beijing’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region, building infrastructure including the Hamabantota port. Continue reading

SOURCE: THE WEEK

The US Department of Defense on Thursday released its annual report to the Congress on the progress of China’s military. The Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019 is over 120 pages long and provides details on China’s military strategy, state of modernisation and disputes with neighbours.

Of particular interest to India would be the Pentagon’s assessment of China building capabilities for the Indian Ocean. The report notes the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “is additionally developing power projection capabilities and concepts of operation in order to conduct offensive operations within the second island chain, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in some cases, globally.” Continue reading

SOURCE: ET

Even as Sri Lanka grapples to come to terms with one of worst terror attacks in recent years, Pakistan Army is fishing in troubled waters. Pakistan based and Pak Army supported twitter handles are busy spreading propaganda against India using fake Sri Lankan ids, ET has learnt.

Not long after Twitter blocked hundreds of fake ids of Pak military and ISI, new set of ids are mushrooming again. Pakistan’s Hubaib became Brigadier NLK Samrasinghe on twitter to defame India. “India is directly involved in Easter attacks. The intelligence agencies have collected the proofs. We have sent the dossier to UN and we expects the further action against India. Now India must be Ready for the reaction.” Continue reading

SOURCE: NDTV

The Islamic State group’s elusive chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has purportedly appeared for the first time in five years in a propaganda video released Monday by the jihadist organisation.

It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but the man said to be Baghdadi referred to last week’s deadly attack in Sri Lanka and to the months-long fight for IS’s final bastion Baghouz, which ended in March. “The battle for Baghouz is over,” he said, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred. Continue reading

SOURCE: REUTERS

Something very significant is under way in Pakistan, the government in Islamabad would like you to believe. A small group of foreign journalists, Reuters correspondents included, was given Pakistan’s new narrative by Prime Minister Imran Khan, its army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and other top government officials and generals during a visit to the country earlier this month.

Some of the comments of the officials were for publication, others were not, but the message remained consistent. In summary, Pakistan says it is tired of conflict, opposed to extremism, open for peace talks and clamping down on corruption. It also insists it is run by politicians, with the military partnering rather than dominating. Continue reading

SOURCE: ENS

IT WAS a group of local Muslim youngsters that first raised the alarm about the terrorist safehouse near the coastal town of Kalmunai in Sri Lanka’s eastern Ampara district, leading to a raid by security forces Friday night killing 15 people inside, residents told The Indian Express.

The alert was sounded by one of the youths who was passing through a street near an iron bridge in the Sainthamaruthu locality when he “saw a man standing with a rifle inside the house”, they said. Within minutes, residents said, they gathered at the house and demanded the IDs of those inside. When they were rebuffed — one of those inside tried to fire in the air — the local masjid committee was called, they said. Soon, someone in the house started throwing fistfuls of currency notes at the crowd, they said. Continue reading

SOURCE: REUTERS

A gun battle between troops and suspected Islamist militants on Sri Lanka’s east coast left 15 dead, including six children, a military spokesman said on Saturday, six days after suicide bombers killed more than 250 people on the island. The shootout at a safe house erupted on Friday in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara district, to the south of the Sri Lankan town of Batticaloa, site of one of the Easter Sunday blasts which have been claimed by Islamic State.

The government has said that the attacks on three churches and four hotels, most of which were in the capital Colombo, were carried out by nine well-educated Sri Lankans, eight of whom have been identified. A police spokesman said three suspected suicide bombers were among the dead following Friday’s gun battle. Continue reading

SOURCE: ANI

A few days after a series of explosions hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka’s Colombo, three more explosions rattled Saindamarudu area in the country’s Kalmunai city on Friday. No casualties or damage to property has been reported yet.The explosions were reported while security forces were carrying out searches to nab suspects of the Easter Sunday attacks.

During the raids, the Sri Lankan police recovered Islamic State uniforms, ISIS flags, 150 Gelignite sticks, 100,000 ball bearings and a drone camera in Sammanthurai, CNN quoted police, as saying.An explosion occurred in a town east of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, on Thursday, a police spokesman said. No casualty was reported. Continue reading

SOURCE: ENS

Chinese President Xi Jinping has elevated his country’s missile forces to a level where they pose an unprecedented challenge to the aircraft carriers and bases that form the backbone of American military primacy in Asia, a Reuters special report reveals today. Many of the missiles in Beijing’s arsenal now rival or outperform those of the United States, puncturing the protective umbrella that for decades America has afforded its regional allies South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Captain James Fanell, a former US Navy intelligence chief, told Reuters that China now has “the most advanced ballistic missile force in the world” and has “the capacity to overwhelm the defensive systems we are pursuing.” Continue reading

SOURCE: REUTERS

Sri Lankan housewife Fathima Fazla thought of her neighbours in the grand three-storey home across the street as the wealthy celebrities of her humble Colombo suburb. She had no idea how infamous they would become. Two brothers who lived at the white house on Mahawela Gardens have emerged as key players in suicide attacks on Easter Sunday that killed more than 350 people and stunned an island state that had enjoyed a decade of relative peace.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on three churches and four hotels. Continue reading

SOURCE: SUNDAY GUARDIAN LIVE

Beijing is expanding its soft power influence in a range of ways, none more important than its growing influence in the Western press. As part of Beijing’s attempt to exert influence in foreign affairs, its state-run media companies are expanding their integration with Western news outlets. The CCP has rapidly expanded its efforts to influence discussion about China beyond its borders to attempt to suppress criticism of the Chinese government and mould international media to refer to China in a positive light.

In 2018, Xinhua, China’s largest state-run news agency, announced that it was expanding cooperation with the US news service The Associated Press (AP), declaring that the two news agencies had established broad cooperation in such areas as new media, economic information, and the application of AI. Continue reading

SOURCE: THE NEWS PK

In an impressive fire power display, Live Weapon Firing was conducted by Pakistan Navy’s Fast Attack Craft (Missile), in the North Arabian Sea. The indigenously developed Cruise Missile, has Anti-Ship and Land Attack capability. Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff witnessed the live firing onboard Pakistan Navy Ship.

?The missile accurately hit its target on land signifying the impressive capabilities of the indigenous missile System. The successful live weapon firing has once again demonstrated the credible fire power of Pakistan Navy and the impeccable level of indigenization in high tech weaponry achieved by Pakistan’s defence industry. This is a clear manifestation of Government’s resolve to achieve self reliance in this field. Continue reading

SOURCE: PTI

Pakistani spy agency ISI’s ex-chief Lt Gen (retd.) Asad Durrani has appealed to the high court here against Pakistan Army’s decision of forfeiting his pension and other benefits after he was found guilty of violating the military code of conduct for co-authoring a controversial book with India’s former intelligence head.

Durrani, who headed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from August 1990 till March 1992, is not entitled to pension and other benefits after the Pakistan Army in February found him guilty following a Court of Inquiry against him over the book ‘The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace’ that he co-authored with former RAW chief A S Dulat. Continue reading

SOURCE: THE PRINT

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the most important elements of President Xi Jinping’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. It is also a big sticking point in India’s relationship with China.

Just last week, foreign minister Wang Yi appealed to India to shed its opposition to the corridor, saying it in no way “undermined” the basic position on Kashmir. The appeal came ahead of the Belt and Road Forum Beijing is hosting from 25 to 27 April, in which 37 heads of state and government have confirmed their participation, including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Continue reading

SOURCE: THE PRINT

A major reshuffle in Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet leaves key ministries in the hands of several technocrats and a former spymaster accused of protecting Osama bin Laden, all of whom previously served in General Pervez Musharraf’s military regime. Politicians loyal to Khan have also been sidelined.

The military, which assisted Imran Khan’s rise to power, used his celebrity status to tap into the yearning of change among Pakistani youth. But its objective all along was to restore what Pakistan’s generals see as their golden era. Under Musharraf, the military ran affairs of the state with the help of technocrats who managed a relatively booming economy. Continue reading