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Sri Lankan balks on police testimony

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is opposed to police testifying before a parliamentary inquiry into intelligence failures that preceded the Easter Sunday suicide attacks that killed more than 250 people, the president's media unit said.

Sirisena met with senior officers Friday evening and told them he doesn't favor intelligence officers being summoned by a parliamentary committee to discuss sensitive details in the presence of the media, the media unit said in statement.

The meeting between Sirisena, who is also the minister of defense and police, and senior police officers came after intelligence officials, former bureaucrats and the suspended national police chief testified before the commission and described shortcomings in the security sector.

Sirisena promised to protect officers who refuse to attend the committee hearings, the statement said.

Hemasiri Fernando, the former secretary to the Defense Ministry who resigned after the blasts, told the committee that Sirisena as his minister wasn't easily accessible for private discussions. The suspended police chief, Pujith Jayasundara, said that Sirisena asked him to resign to take responsibility for the blasts and ensure that he will have his name cleared in any subsequent inquiry.

Sirisena has said there are five cases being heard at the Supreme Court in relation to the blasts, and that the attorney general had informed him that the parliamentary hearing may be a hindrance to the court cases.

Seven Sri Lankans who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group blew themselves up at three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21.

Bulgarians find bombs, arrest teenager

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- A 16-year-old was arrested after Bulgarian police found explosive devices, an Islamic State group flag and other items in the boy's home that could have been used in a mass attack, a prosecutor said Saturday.

Police in Bulgaria's second-biggest city, Plovdiv, conducted a search after the high school student's relatives reported finding handmade bomb components, said deputy prosecutor-general Ivan Geshev.

Officers said they discovered explosive devices, including a pipe bomb and a device filled with 31 pounds of nails, as well as the Islamic State flag and Islamist literature.

Geshev said investigators think the case involved only the teen and not an extremist cell or network in Bulgaria. The teen received instructions about explosive devices through the Telegram messaging app, as well as how to convert to Islam, the prosecutor said.

Psychologists were questioning the boy to establish his motives.

Yemen raid reported to kill 5 people

SANAA, Yemen -- Yemeni security officials say gunmen from a security force backed by the United Arab Emirates stormed a mosque in the southern Dhale province, killing at least five people.

The officials said Saturday that the attack took place a day earlier, when people were holding prayers in a mosque in the district of Azrak.

They say the attackers, who belong to a group called the Security Belt, kidnapped three people. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Tribal leaders in the district condemned that attack and called for those responsible to be held accountable.

The Security Belt force said in a statement that the dead were Houthi rebels who refused to surrender.

The United Arab Emirates is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels since 2015.

5 boys held in 2 women's assault in U.K.

LONDON -- Five teenage boys were under arrest Saturday in an assault on two women who refused to kiss as they were surrounded on a London bus and taunted as lesbians, according to an account by one of the women.

The attack May 30 was revealed in social media posts by one of the women, Melania Geymonat, who said she was beaten and bloodied.

On Friday evening, London police announced that four teens had been arrested in the assault. They said another boy, 16, was arrested Saturday. Police were reviewing closed-circuit TV footage of the attack and continued to appeal for witnesses and information.

Geymonat, an Uruguayan flight attendant, said she and her American girlfriend Chris -- she did not provide a last name -- were traveling home on the top deck of a London night bus to Camden Town.

She said on her Facebook page that four men, one with a Spanish accent, the others with British accents, were "behaving like hooligans" and demanding they kiss "so they could enjoy watching."

According to her account, the situation escalated and the men started punching them. "Suddenly the bus had stopped, the police were there and I was bleeding all over," she wrote.

Police said that the incident took place at 2:30 a.m. and that "the women were then attacked and punched several times before the males ran off the bus. A phone and bag were stolen during the assault." The two were treated at a London hospital for facial injuries and released.

A Section on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: The world in brief

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