Sri Lanka blasts LIVE updates: Christians on the frontline of religious divide after Easter Sunday attacks on churches, hotels

14:01 (IST)

‘Torn Bibles strewn on the floor’: Sunday’s attacks bring Christians to front-line in communally sensitive nation

The Easter Sunday attacks on three churches in Sri Lanka mark a devastating escalation of violence against a Christian minority that has been targeted in the past, but never to such brutal and deadly effect.

Ethnic and religious violence has plagued Sri Lanka for decades, with a 37-year conflict with Tamil rebels that claimed 100,000 lives and an upswing in recent years in clashes between the Buddhist majority and Muslims.

While there have been attacks on Christians, their community had been left relatively unscathed, with anti-Muslim riots — whipped up in part by hardline, right-wing Buddhists grabbing the headlines.

But that changed with Sunday’s bombings on St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St Sebastian’s in Negombo to the north of the capital and the church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

All three were left in ruins, bodies slumped over pews or lined up in aisles, torn bibles strewn over the floor. Along with attacks on four hotels, more than 200 people were killed.

(AFP)

13:57 (IST)

Sri Lankan Muslim leaders call for ‘maximum punishment’ against perpetrators

Top Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka on Monday demanded “maximum punishment” for the perpetrators of suicide bomb attacks on Christian churches and luxury hotels in the country that left at least 290 dead.

The comments came as the government refused to give details of at least 24 people arrested over the Easter Sunday attacks for fear of fanning ethnic tensions. Scores of Christians were among the dead.

“We urge the government to provide security to all religious sites and to give maximum punishment to everyone involved in these dastardly acts,” said the All Ceylon Jamiyyathuul Ulama, or council of Muslim theologians.

“On behalf of the Sri Lankan Muslim community we offer our condolences to the people of Christian faith and extend our hands of friendship in solidarity.”

(AFP)

13:43 (IST)

Sri Lanka govt orders night-time curfew after tensions remain high

The Sri Lankan government on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew as tensions remained high after a series of suicide bomb attacks that left at least 290 dead.

The government information department said the curfew would run from 8.00 pm on Monday until 4.00 am on Tuesday. An indefinite curfew ordered Sunday after the attacks was lifted early Monday but a two-day holiday was decreed in a bid to reduce public traffic.

13:37 (IST)

24 arrested suspects transferred to CID custody

The number of arrests in connection with the series of explosions in Sri Lanka are currently at 24 and they have been transferred into the custody of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for further investigations, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera was quoted as saying by the local TV.

(PTI)

13:30 (IST)

Indians looking for missing kin in Sri Lanka tweet to Sushma Swaraj

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who gained the reputation of being accessible for Indians at home and abroad via her Twitter account, has been responding to queries about missing family members after a series of explosions rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

13:19 (IST)

Indian families reach out to Sushma Swaraj for news on missing kin

India on Sunday strongly condemned the serial blasts in Sri Lanka and called for concerted global action to deal with terrorism. The Ministry of External Affairs, through India in Sri Lanka, also released helpline numbers for Indians looking for assistance.

13:17 (IST)

Interpol offers ‘full support’

The Interpol on Monday said it is ready to offer full support to the Sri Lankan authorities in investigating the country’s deadliest terror attack that killed 290 people in a series of eight blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in the country.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in a Twitter message said, “Interpol strongly condemns the horrific attacks and has offered its full support to the investigation being carried out by national authorities.”

Paris-based Interpol is an organisation which facilitates worldwide police cooperation. Stock said Interpol can deploy an Incident Response Team at the request of a member country to provide on-site support during a crisis situation.

12:59 (IST)

Three Sri Lankan policemen also lost their lives in suicide bombs in Colombo

Hours after the initial series of explosions in churches and hotels, police raided two addresses. There were explosions at both of these addresses, with three police officers killed at one location in a suicide blast. A home-made bomb was defused at the Colombo airport late on Sunday.

(AFP)

12:53 (IST)

What we know so far:

The Sunday attacks were the worst ever against Sri Lanka’s small Christian minority. The blasts hit the three churches when they were full of worshippers gathered for Easter services. More than five hundred people were injured in the bombings on churches and hotels.

At least 37 foreigners died, according to the government, including three Britons, two Turkish nationals, a Portuguese citizen, and two people holding both British and American passports.

Three Danes, a Japanese citizen, two Chinese nationals, and at least five Indians also died in the attacks, their respective governments confirmed. Stef Blok, the Netherlands’ foreign minister, said on Twitter that one Dutch national was among the victims — a 54-year-old woman, according to Dutch newspaper AD.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said nine foreign nationals have been reported missing, and there are 25 unidentified bodies believed to be of foreigners.

12:51 (IST)

RECAP: What we know so far

Powerful explosions struck in quick succession at three hotels in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. The Cinnamon Grand was hit at around 8:30 am on Sunday, and the Shangri La soon after at 9:05 am. The Kingsbury Hotel was also hit.

Three churches were also targeted in that wave of blasts: Colombo’s historic St Anthony’s Shrine, the St Sebastian’s church in the town of Negombo — north of the capital — and the Zion Church in the east-coast town of Batticaloa. All six blasts were suicide bombs.

(AFP)

12:47 (IST)

RECAP: Kerala govt sends medical team to assist Sri Lankan authorities

The Kerala government has formed a medical team of 15 experts to assist Sri Lanka blasts victims. Discussions with the Ministry of External Affairs is underway to make necessary arrangements to send the team to Sri Lanka to assist the blast victims.

12:44 (IST)

‘We are resilient people’: Sri Lankans say life must go on

In Colombo, some residents were making their way into work, determined to maintain a semblance of normality despite the tragedy. “We are resilient people,” said Nuwan Samarweera, a 50-year-old office worker.

“We have seen so much violence during the civil war. For the outside world it may be big, but for us life goes on,” he added. “We have to gather ourselves and move on.”

12:29 (IST)

‘Where is God?’ ask stunned Sri Lankans
For many Sri Lankans, Sunday’s attacks against churches and high-end hotels brought back painful memories of a conflict that lasted three decades and killed as many as 100,000 people.
During those years, bomb attacks were a regular occurrence, and left many Sri Lankans on edge in the streets and on public transport. In the capital, street sweeper Malathi Wickrama said Monday he was now nervous doing his job.
“Now we are afraid to even touch black plastic bags with garbage,” he said. “The string of blasts yesterday brings back memories of the time when we were afraid to go in buses or trains because of parcel bombs.”
With the lifting of a nationwide curfew early Monday morning, people began to emerge into Colombo’s streets, where security was heavy.

12:11 (IST)

Two suicide bombers attacked Shangri La, one each targeted Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury hotels

A Sri Lankan government forensic crime analyst tells The Associated Press that the six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in and around Colombo on Easter Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

The government analyst Ariyananda Welianga says an analysis of the attackers’ body parts collected from the scenes shows that the attacks were suicide bombings.

Welianga says two people were involved in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel. One bomber each attacked the Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels and St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s church in the city of Negombo and Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa.

12:05 (IST)

RECAP: Narendra Modi held telephonic conversation with Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena​ and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after serial blasts hit island nation.

11:55 (IST)

RECAP: Narendra Modi condemned Sri Lanka blasts, reiterated ‘national security’ as poll plank in rally on Sunday

After condemning the series of deadly bomb attacks on Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels on Sunday that killed more than 200 people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told voters that they needed to elect him to a second term as only he can beat the “terrorists” threatening India.

11:53 (IST)

US state department issues travel advisory, says ‘terrorist groups’ may continue to plot attacks

The US state department said in a revised travel advisory ‘terrorist groups’ were continuing to plot possible attacks in Sri Lanka, Reuters reported, after 290 people were killed and about 500 wounded in blasts in churches and luxury hotels on Sunday.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” it said in the revised warning, which was dated Sunday US time. It said possible targets included tourist locations, transportation hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, airports and other public areas.

11:44 (IST)

Update: Govt officials say six blasts were carried out by 7 suicide bombers

The Associated Press quoted a Sri Lankan government forensic analyst as saying that six of the explosions that occurred in three churches, and three hotels on Easter Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

11:34 (IST)

HD Kumaraswamy mourns deaths of two JD(S) workers whom he ‘knew personally’

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy condoled the death of the two JD(S) workers in the series of explosions that rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday. He was quoted by ANI as saying, “EAM Sushma Swaraj has confirmed death of 2 Kannadigas, KG Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa, in the bomb blasts in Colombo. I’m deeply shocked at the loss of our JD(S) party workers, whom I know personally. We stand with their families in this hour of grief.”

11:19 (IST)

Andhra Pradesh tourists narrowly escape explosion at Shangri La hotel

Five people from Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district had a narrow escape in the serial bomb blasts that rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing over 200 people.
 

Amilineni Surendra Babu, who is the head of a construction firm, sustained minor injuries while his friends escaped unhurt when a bomb went off at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, where they were staying. The group, which was on a tour to Sri Lanka, was having breakfast at the hotel when a bomb ripped through the premises.

In the stampede that followed, Surendra Babu sustained minor injuries.

11:13 (IST)

Sri Lanka blasts bear resemblance to 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, says report

An explainer by Foreign Policy titled ‘What’s Behind the Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka?’  drew parallels between the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and Sunday’s series of explosions in Sri Lanka. The report also said that the coordinated attacks on various locations suggested “a degree of sophistication, planning, funding, and reach.”

The report added, “While authorities are still piecing together what happened, the blasts bear at least some resemblance to the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which simultaneously targeted two luxury hotels, a busy railway terminal, and a Jewish outreach center.

“According to Indian intelligence, the Mumbai attacks were designed not only to cause the highest possible number of casualties but also to target groups—such as Western tourists—that would lead to the greatest amount of international media coverage.”

11:07 (IST)

Reuters recorded 86 incidents of discrimination, violence against Christians in Sri Lanka in 2018

An explainer by Foreign Policy titled ‘ What’s Behind the Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka?‘ said that Reuters cited the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, which represents more than 200 churches, as having “recorded 86 incidents of discrimination, threats, and violence against Christians last year.”

11:02 (IST)

HD Kumaraswamy in ‘constant’ touch with Indian High Commission over missing JD(S) workers

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy expressed shock over reports of missing JD(S) workers from a team of seven in the Sri Lanka blasts on Sunday. Two others have been reported dead.

“I’m shocked to hear that a 7-member team of JD(S) workers from Karnataka, who were touring Colombo (Sri Lanka), has gone missing after bomb blasts. 2 of them are feared killed. I’m in constant touch with Indian High Commission on reports of those missing,” ANI quoted him as saying.

10:43 (IST)

Five JD(S) workers missing after Sri Lanka blasts, two workers dead

Reports quoted MEA sources as saying that two JD(S) workers have died in the blast that occurred in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo on Easter Sunday. CNN-News18 reported that a team of seven JD(S) workers had gone to Colombo on 20 April, and also that five of them are missing.

The report also said that Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said that he was “shocked” with the news of the missing JD(S) workers. 

10:37 (IST)

Sri Lankans line up to donate blood for those injured in blasts

Several Sri Lankans took to social media to ask for blood donors soon after the attacks took place on Easter Sunday morning. The series of eight explosions have left at least 290 dead and hundreds injured.

People AP spoke to were heartened by the fact that their social media feeds were flooded with photos of the lines of people waiting to give blood on Sunday. Lines so long “you can’t see the end.”

10:09 (IST)

Internet censorship watchdog says blocking social media could be ‘ineffective’

NetBlocks cautioned that such post-attack blackouts are often ineffective. “What we’ve seen is that when social media is shut down, it creates a vacuum of information that’s readily exploited by other parties,” said Alp Toker, executive director of the London-based group. “It can add to the sense of fear and can cause panic.”

The group said its monitoring of Sri Lankan internet connectivity found no disruptions to the fundamental infrastructure of the internet, meaning the blackout was directed at specific services. Some social media outlets, such as Twitter, appeared unaffected, but the blockage affected popular messaging services.

“That’s going to be a problem for people trying to communicate with friends and family,” Toker said.

10:07 (IST)

Social media, messaging platforms continue to be blocked

Sri Lankan authorities blocked most social media after Easter Sunday attacks killed more than 200 people, with officials saying the temporary move was meant to curtail the spread of false information and ease tensions.

The NetBlocks observatory said it detected an intentional blackout of popular services including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Viber.

The defense ministry said the shutdown would extend until the government concludes its investigation into the bomb blasts that rocked churches, luxury hotels and other sites.

10:00 (IST)

Police discover safe house, detain van which carried explosives and driver
Sri Lanka police on Monday said that the van which had carried explosives to carry out bomb attacks at the three hotels had been arrested with its driver. A safe house where the bombers had lived for nearly three months leading to the attacks were discovered in the south of Colombo suburb of Panadura.  

09:51 (IST)

Six Indians killed in Sri Lanka blasts

 At least six Indians have been killed in a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, which struck three churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials told PTI on Monday.

The police said on Monday that at least six Indian nationals have been reported among the foreigners who died in the blasts. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday identified two more individuals killed in the blasts on Sunday.
“We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday, KG Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa,” Swaraj retweeted the Indian High Commission in Colombo’s tweet. On Sunday, Swaraj, in a series of tweets, identified the three Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.

09:47 (IST)

World leaders condemn Sri Lanka blasts

Religious and world leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed at least 290 people on Sunday, including dozens of foreigners with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.

09:46 (IST)

No claim of responsibility for attacks yet; police fear communal violence

There was still no claim of responsibility for the series of bomb blasts on churches and five-star hotels across Sri Lanka. There were fears the attacks could spark a renewal of communal violence, with police reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.

09:40 (IST)

Update: 24 arrested in connection with Easter Sunday explosions

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people from the minority Muslim community in connection with the multiple blasts that rocked the island nation on Sunday, killing over 290 people.

PTI quoted police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera as saying that the number of arrests on the incidents has now gone up to 24.

09:37 (IST)

A look at the elements of unrest in Sri Lanka: Religious divide

There is no history of violent Muslim militants in Sri Lanka. However, after the civil war ended, a religious divide quickly took hold, with hard-line Buddhist monks rallying Sri Lankans against what they argue is a pernicious threat: Muslims, who make up roughly 10 percent of the population.

Buddhist nationalist leaders and false social media reports accuse Muslims of recruiting children, trying to grow their ranks by marrying Buddhist women and attacking Buddhist shrines. Small-town economics also plays a significant role, since Muslims own many of the country’s small shops.

As for the country’s small Christian minority: While there have been scattered incidents of anti-Christian harassment in recent years, there has been nothing on the scale of what happened Sunday.

09:26 (IST)

A look at the elements of unrest in Sri Lanka: Separatist sentiments

Sri Lanka, an island nation of some 23 million people, was dominated for decades by the sharp divide between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and the minority Tamil, who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

The mistreatment of Tamils helped nurture the growth of armed separatists and led to nearly 30 years of civil war, with Tamil Tiger fighters eventually creating a de facto independent homeland in the country’s north.

The Tigers were crushed in a 2009 government offensive, with some observers believing that tens of thousands of Tamils died in the last few months of fighting alone.

(AP)

09:25 (IST)

Sri Lanka authorities say ‘international elements’ are involved

Sri Lankan investigators probing the series of explosions said that the “involvement of international elements is clear” from the pattern the blasts. They also suspect that “two or three more bombs” are still undetected, The Indian Express reported.

09:21 (IST)

Timeline of the Sri Lanka bomb blasts

The first five explosions occured within 20 minutes. Beginning at the Shangri La hotel, St. Anthony’s Church and the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the St Sebastian Catholic Church in Negambo at 8.45 am on Easter Sunday.

At 8.50, an explosion went off in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in the capital and at 9.05 am a blast occurred at the Zion Roman Catholic Church in Batticaloa. Reuters reported.

09:16 (IST)

Global community extends solidarity to victims in Sri Lanka blasts

The Eiffel Tower went dark at the stroke of midnight on Sunday to pay tribute to those who were killed in the series of explosions across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. At least 290 people have lost their lives as per the latest toll count.

In Israel’s capital Tel Aviv, the municipality building was lit with the Sri Lankan flag to honour the victims in the attack.

09:07 (IST)

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe urges coordination with security forces

Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged people to be united and coordinate with the security forces in their investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 290 people and injured hundreds more.

He also asked people to refrain from spreading fake news and misinformation as that would “divert” the time and efforts of the security forces “from bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice”.

08:59 (IST)

Sri Lanka govt  refuses to disclose details of suspects to avoid giving ‘extremists’ publicity
Sri Lankan government has refused to disclose details of the 13 people who were arrested in connection with the bomb blasts. The decision has been taken to prevent them from getting publicity.
“Don’t give extremists a voice. Don’t help to make them martyrs,” State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told reporters when asked for details of those in custody.

08:57 (IST)

Indefinite curfew lifted after arrest of 13 suspects

Sri Lanka on Monday lifted the curfew which was indefinitely imposed after the island nation was rocked with eight blasts targeting churches and hotels, PTI reported.

Sri Lankan government on Sunday imposed curfew with immediate effect after the blasts which was lifted at 6 am Monday morning, police said.

08:49 (IST)

Maithripala Sirisena has called for National Security Council meeting on Monday

Reuters quoted a Sri Lanka government source as saying that President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, has called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to attend the meeting, the report added.

08:46 (IST)

Toll: Casualties rise to 290, over 500 injured

The toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also wounded, police told Reuters on Monday.

The toll overnight had stood at 207. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of those killed and wounded at each of the three churches and four hotels hit on Sunday, attacks that marked the most significant violence since a bloody civil war ended 10 years ago.

08:39 (IST)

Japan confirms one citizen killed in Sunday’s blasts

Japan is confirming one of its citizens was killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and at least four were wounded.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono offered his condolences to all the victims of the attacks and expressed Japan’s commitment in “combatting terrorism” and solidarity with Sri Lanka.

08:36 (IST)

Toll: Casualties rose overnight, but official confirmation spending

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday the death toll, which was 207 late on Sunday, had risen overnight but the figure wasn’t immediately released.

08:34 (IST)

Probe into explosions to examine possible intelligence failures

Police in Sri Lanka say the investigation into the Easter Sunday bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence.

Two government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday that the Criminal Investigation Department investigating the blasts will look into the reports.

08:26 (IST)

Authorities ignored intelligence memo that warned of attacks on Saturday

A memo that warned of a potential attack was circulated a day before the deadly explosions in Sri Lanka, reports CNN. The memo dated 11 April was signed by Sri Lanka’s deputy inspector general of police.

Titled Information of an Alleged Plan attack, the memo stated: “The State Intelligence service stated that information has been received regarding an alleged plan of suicidal attack by the leader of ‘Nations Thawahid Jaman Mohomad Saharan.'” 

“According to information from that statement, would like you to give special attention and inform your staff to provide special security measures to the areas covered by your division,” it read. The warning was ignored and no action was taken.

Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also acknowledged that there was prior information, but he was not informed about it.

08:22 (IST)

Sri Lanka’s national carrier asks passengers to reach airport 4 hours prior to departure

There were disruptions to flights, but Sri Lanka’s national carrier Sri Lankan has already asked leaving passengers to report to check-in counters at least four hours prior to departure because of tight security checks at the Bandaranaike International airport.

The apparently coordinated attacks were the deadliest to hit the country in the decade since the end of a bloody civil war that killed up to 100,000 people and evoked painful memories for many Sri Lankans.

08:11 (IST)

Ninth bomb was locally made, say Lankan officials
Airforce spokesperson Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said the IED was believed to be locally manufactured. The discovery comes after a series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services, killing at least 207 people, including dozens of foreigners.
“It was a crude six-foot pipe bomb that was found by the roadside,” an air force spokesman said. “We have removed it and safely defused it at an air force location.”

08:06 (IST)

Ninth bomb was defused close to Colombo main airport

An improvised pipe bomb discovered close to Colombo’s main airport was successfully defused by the Sri Lanka airforce, police said.

A police source told AFP that a “homemade” pipe bomb had been found late Sunday on a road leading towards the main terminal, which remains open with heavy security after Easter Sunday’s deadly bomb attacks.

“It was a homemade bomb, with explosives put into a pipe,” said the source.

08:05 (IST)

13 arrested for Easter Sunday blasts

Sri Lankan police have arrested 13 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said Monday.

Authorities have not made public details on those held after Sunday’s attacks. But a police source told AFP the 13 were detained at two locations in and around Colombo.

The source said the 13 men are from the same radical group.

Sri Lanka blasts LATEST updates: The Easter Sunday attacks on three churches in Sri Lanka mark a devastating escalation of violence against a Christian minority that has been targeted in the past, but never to such brutal and deadly effect.

Ethnic and religious violence has plagued Sri Lanka for decades, with a 37-year conflict with Tamil rebels that claimed 100,000 lives and an upswing in recent years in clashes between the Buddhist majority and Muslims.

While there have been attacks on Christians, their community had been left relatively unscathed, with anti-Muslim riots — whipped up in part by hardline, right-wing Buddhists grabbing the headlines.

But that changed with Sunday’s bombings on St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St Sebastian’s in Negombo to the north of the capital and the church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

All three were left in ruins, bodies slumped over pews or lined up in aisles, torn bibles strewn over the floor. Along with attacks on four hotels, more than 200 people were killed.

The Sri Lankan government on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew as tensions remained high after a series of suicide bomb attacks that left at least 290 dead.

The government information department said the curfew would run from 8.00 pm on Monday until 4.00 am on Tuesday. An indefinite curfew ordered Sunday after the attacks was lifted early Monday but a two-day holiday was decreed in a bid to reduce public traffic.

The Interpol on Monday said it is ready to offer full support to the Sri Lankan authorities in investigating the country’s deadliest terror attack that killed 290 people in a series of eight blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in the country.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in a Twitter message said, “Interpol strongly condemns the horrific attacks and has offered its full support to the investigation being carried out by national authorities.”

Paris-based Interpol is an organisation which facilitates worldwide police cooperation. Stock said Interpol can deploy an Incident Response Team at the request of a member country to provide on-site support during a crisis situation.

Hours after the initial series of explosions in churches and hotels, police raided two addresses. There were explosions at both of these addresses, with three police officers killed at one location in a suicide blast. A home-made bomb was defused at the Colombo airport late on Sunday.

For many Sri Lankans, Sunday’s attacks against churches and high-end hotels brought back painful memories of a conflict that lasted three decades and killed as many as 100,000 people.

During those years, bomb attacks were a regular occurrence, and left many Sri Lankans on edge in the streets and on public transport. In the capital, street sweeper Malathi Wickrama said Monday he was now nervous doing his job.

“Now we are afraid to even touch black plastic bags with garbage,” he said. “The string of blasts yesterday brings back memories of the time when we were afraid to go in buses or trains because of parcel bombs.”

With the lifting of a nationwide curfew early Monday morning, people began to emerge into Colombo’s streets, where security was heavy.

The Associated Press quoted a Sri Lankan government forensic analyst as saying that six of the explosions that occurred in three churches, and three hotels on Easter Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy expressed shock over reports of missing JD(S) workers from a team of seven in the Sri Lanka blasts on Sunday. Two others have been reported dead.

“I’m shocked to hear that a 7-member team of JD(S) workers from Karnataka, who were touring Colombo (Sri Lanka), has gone missing after bomb blasts. 2 of them are feared killed. I’m in constant touch with Indian High Commission on reports of those missing,” ANI quoted him as saying.

The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that two JD(S) workers have died in the blast that occurred in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo on Easter Sunday. CNN-News18 reported that a team of seven JD(S) workers had gone to Colombo on 20 April, and also that five of them are missing.

The report also said that Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said that he was “shocked” with the news of the missing JD(S) workers.

At least six Indians have been killed in a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, which struck three churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials told PTI on Monday.

The police said on Monday that at least six Indian nationals have been reported among the foreigners who died in the blasts. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday identified two more individuals killed in the blasts on Sunday.

“We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday, KG Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa,” Swaraj retweeted the Indian High Commission in Colombo’s tweet. On Sunday, Swaraj, in a series of tweets, identified the three Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.

Sri Lankan authorities blocked most social media after Easter Sunday attacks killed more than 200 people, with officials saying the temporary move was meant to curtail the spread of false information and ease tensions.

The NetBlocks observatory said it detected an intentional blackout of popular services including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Viber.

The defense ministry said the shutdown would extend until the government concludes its investigation into the bomb blasts that rocked churches, luxury hotels and other sites.

Sri Lanka police on Monday said that the van which had carried explosives to carry out bomb attacks at the three hotels had been arrested with its driver. A safe house where the bombers had lived for nearly three months leading to the attacks were discovered in the south of Colombo suburb of Panadura.

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people from the minority Muslim community in connection with the multiple blasts that rocked the island nation on Sunday, killing over 290 people.

PTI quoted police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera as saying that the number of arrests on the incidents has now gone up to 24.

Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged people to be united and coordinate with the security forces in their investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 290 people and injured hundreds more.

He also asked people to refrain from spreading fake news and misinformation as that would “divert” the time and efforts of the security forces “from bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice”.

Sri Lankan government has refused to disclose details of the 13 people who were arrested in connection with the bomb blasts. The decision has been taken to prevent them from getting publicity. “Don’t give extremists a voice. Don’t help to make them martyrs,” State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told reporters when asked for details of those in custody.

The toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also wounded, police told Reuters on Monday.

The toll overnight had stood at 207. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of those killed and wounded at each of the three churches and four hotels hit on Sunday, attacks that marked the most significant violence since a bloody civil war ended 10 years ago.

A memo that warned of a potential attack was circulated a day before the deadly explosions in Sri Lanka, reports CNN. The memo dated 11 April was signed by Sri Lanka’s deputy inspector general of police. Titled Information of an Alleged Plan attack, the memo stated: “The State Intelligence service stated that information has been received regarding an alleged plan of suicidal attack by the leader of ‘Nations Thawahid Jaman Mohomad Saharan.'”

An improvised pipe bomb discovered close to Colombo’s main airport was successfully defused by the Sri Lanka airforce, police said. A police source told AFP that a “homemade” pipe bomb had been found late Sunday on a road leading towards the main terminal, which remains open with heavy security after Easter Sunday’s deadly bomb attacks.

“It was a homemade bomb, with explosives put into a pipe,” said the source. Airforce spokesperson Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said the IED was believed to be locally manufactured.

The discovery comes after a series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services, killing at least 207 people, including dozens of foreigners. “It was a crude six-foot pipe bomb that was found by the roadside,” an air force spokesman said. “We have removed it and safely defused it at an air force location.”

There were disruptions to flights, but Sri Lanka’s national carrier Sri Lankan has already asked leaving passengers to report to check-in counters at least four hours prior to departure because of tight security checks at the Bandaranaike International airport.

The apparently coordinated attacks were the deadliest to hit the country in the decade since the end of a bloody civil war that killed up to 100,000 people and evoked painful memories for many Sri Lankans.

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Updated Date: Apr 22, 2019 14:04:09 IST

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