Sri Lanka attacks: A series of coordinated bombings on several churches and high-end hotels during Easter Sunday mass claiming more than 200 lives including 35 foreigners and about 400 others injured has devastated Sri Lanka. The tiny island is shocked with this huge catastrophic event largest since 2009, when a violent group Tamil Tigers was defeated.
A curfew has been imposed with immediate effect from 18:00 to 06:00 local time leaving only few hours for people to reach home. People were advised to stay indoors and tourists were told to reach BIA or other international airports atleast 3 hours before flight to contain the increased security there.
Yet no group has officially claimed responsibility still Sri Lankan defense minister has said the culprits were identified and are found to be religious extremists. An official talking to AFP said atleast 2 blasts were suicide bombings.
Several reports in local media suggests that a warning was issued beforehand for a suspected suicide bombings on churches and on Indian High Commission in the wake of Easter.
In documents procured by news agency AFP says, “A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo”. NTJ is a notorious Muslim radical group which is said to be behind the attacks. The warning though reported by major international media houses cannot be independently verified.
The deadliest bombing is said to be in St. Sebastian church in Negombo city 20 miles north of capital Colombo. Viral media circulated online showed the rubble inside one of the affected church and the blood spread across the pews. The simultaneous bombings started around 8:45 local time with 3 hotels and a church in capital to be affected early and later in two other churches on outskirts of the city. One of the hotels attack was just across the official residence of prime minister. Another seventh explosion, reports said, took place near zoo in Dehiwala area of South Colombo leaving atleast 2 dead. One more explosion in Colombo city is being reported, though it is not yet confirmed by agencies.
Sri Lankan prime minister condemned the attack in a tweet asking citizens to stay “strong” and “united”.
I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.
— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) April 21, 2019
An emergency meeting was called on by the Sri Lankan government in the wake of attacks. “Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway,” the Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet.
World leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, British PM Theresa May, Russian President Vladimir Putin among others condemned the despicable attack on Sri Lankan soil.
Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena in connection with tragic consequences of terrorist acts
— President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) April 21, 2019
Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 21, 2019
The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time.
We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 21, 2019
Foreign embassies including India has issued emergency helpline numbers for its citizens stuck in Colombo and other parts of the nation.
Indians in distress may please contact Indian High Commission in Colombo. We will provide you all assistance. @IndiainSL Our helpline numbers are :
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 21, 2019