News in brief

Sri Lanka reimposes women alcohol ban days after it was lifted

COLOMBO, January 15 (Reuters): Sri Lanka reimposed a decades-old law banning the selling of alcohol to women and preventing women from working in liquor stores on Monday – just days after it was lifted. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera revoked the 1979 ban last week. “I spoke with the finance minister, …prime minister, and several other ministers and asked them to cancel the gazette immediately. The gazette will be withdrawn from tomorrow,” President Maithripala Sirisena said at an election rally on Sunday. The move comes as the government’s main coalition partners, the centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party, are campaigning for long-delayed local elections. Officials at the finance ministry said the ban was lifted after repeated requests from the tourism industry to extend bar hours and allow female tourists to buy alcohol. But that move was criticised by opposition parliamentarians who said the move would damage Sri Lanka’s Buddhist values. Sinhalese Buddhists account for more than 70 percent of the island nation’s 21 million population. Sri Lanka will hold local government elections on Feb. 10.


Suicide attack in Baghdad kills at least 27, wounds 64

BAGHDAD, January 15 (Reuters): At least 27 people were killed and 64 wounded in a twin suicide bombing in central Baghdad on Monday, the deadliest attack so far this year in the Iraqi capital, an interior ministry official said. Two men detonated explosives vests in Aviation Square, a commercial district and gathering point for day labourers seeking work, scores of whom were killed and injured, according to the official. Iraq declared victory last month over Islamic State (IS) militants who seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014. However, IS continues to carry out attacks and bombings in Baghdad and different parts of the country. The German foreign ministry condemned the devastating attack in Baghdad and expressed its condolences to the families of those killed. The attack in Aviation Square was one of the deadliest in Baghdad since a massive truck bomb killed at least 324 people in the nearby commercial district of Karrada in July 2016. The Karrada bombing was the deadliest single attack in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.