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President says 25 to 30 active members linked to attacks at large

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President Maithripala Sirisena says there are a further 25 to 30 “active members” linked to the Easter Sunday bombings still at large.Sirisena told Reuters on Saturday the security forces would “eradicate terrorism” following devastating suicide attacks on Easter Sunday and restore stability before a presidential election due by year-end. Local intelligence officials believe that Zahran Hashim, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher from the east of the Indian Ocean island nation, may have been a key player in plotting the Easter bombings. Officials believe he was one of nine suicide bombers. “We have already identified all active members of the group and it’s a case of now arresting them,” Sirisena said, adding that there were a further 25 to 30 “active members” linked to the bombings still at large.Sirisena said that all indications suggested Islamic State had been involved, adding: “It’s crystal clear because after the attacks the IS organization made an announcement claiming responsibility for the bombings.” “Elections cannot be postponed, therefore before the elections I will bring about stability and I will eradicate terrorism,” Sirisena told Reuters. The elections are likely to take place between Nov. 10 and Dec. 10. Sirisena also said in an interview he believed Islamic State was behind the April 21 attacks, which targeted churches and luxury hotels and killed more than 250 people including 42 foreign nationals. The group has claimed responsibility. Sri Lanka authorities have previously said that they suspect the attackers had international links, although the precise nature of those connections is not known.Police have said they are also investigating the possible involvement of two previously little-known groups – National Thawheedh Jamaath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim.Sirisena said that intelligence services from eight countries, including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, were helping Sri Lanka with the investigation. read more

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VA Museum defends decision to exhibit Kevin Spacey portrait amid sexual misconduct

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Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The Victoria & Albert Museum has defended its decision to exhibit a portrait of Kevin Spacey despite allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor.The disgraced Oscar-winner has faced accusations of sexual assault and earlier this year pleaded not guilty to groping a teenage restaurant worker in the first criminal case involving the 59-year-old.Spacey’s image is set to go on display at the London museum as part of an exhibition of portraits focusing on major figures in the theatre and film industries.The American Beauty lead was selected for the spectacle, which will be unveiled at the V&A’s annual Performance Festival later this month, because he was a visiting professor of the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s College, Oxford.The portraits are by artist Francis Hamel and will be on display at the museum from April 27 to May 19. Other prominent figures involved in the project include Richard Attenborough, Stephen Daldry, Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Diana Rigg and Meera Syal.A spokeswoman for Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: “This display of portraits is an accurate historic record of every professor who has occupied the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre over 27 years at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. “At the time of his appointment and during his tenure in the chair, there was no public controversy surrounding Mr Spacey.”On the ITV programme Good Morning Britain, journalist Rebecca Reid criticised the move.She said: “There is a difference having art that was created in the context in which it existed…and newly created art that reflects our current values.”A spokeswoman for the V&A said: “The V&A aims to provide a record of history while recognising and encouraging debate around issues affecting contemporary society.”In January, Spacey appeared in court in the US accused of groping William Little, a 18-year-old restaurant worker on the island of Nantucket, in July 2016. He denies the allegation.Spacey has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen men, some of them teens at the time of the alleged incidents, but the Nantucket case is the first to result in criminal charges. It carries a possible five years in prison. read more

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