This Easter Sunday, a series of suicide bombings hit hotels and churches across Sri Lanka, leaving the whole country in a state of lock-down on an otherwise happy occasion.
New Delhi, India, April 22, 2019 —
This Easter Sunday, a series of suicide bombings hit hotels and churches across Sri Lanka, leaving the whole country in a state of lock-down on an otherwise happy occasion. At least 215 people have been killed and over 450 severely wounded in the series of suicide blasts that hit the country.
The first wave of attacks struck at the heart of the country’s minority Christian community during busy Easter services at churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Sunday morning.
The other blasts ripped through three high-end hotels, the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury, all in the capital city of Colombo.
On Sunday afternoon, the seventh and eighth blast occurred at a hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and at a private house in Mahawila Gardens, in Dematagoda, during a raid in connection with the attacks, officials said.
Fear And Dismay Grown In The Peaceful Country
Since the past many years, Sri Lanka has grown and developed multidimensionally, far away from violence and hate crimes. SriLanka, as a country, developed and nurtured huge tourism winning the title of the best place in the world to visit in 2019 by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. The series of bombings have left fear and dismay into the country.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Harsha de Silva said on Twitter that “close to 30 foreigners” were killed on Sunday. In the capital, Colombo, at least 20 foreigners were among the dead, according to hospital Director General Anil Jasinghe. Hospitals have opened their doors to scores of victims.
@RWijewardene says 7 people under arrest for morning attacks that killed at least 160 people including perhaps close to 30 foreigners (Source: Sec/Foreign Affairs) at meeting now w heads of media. Asks for responsible reporting. pic.twitter.com/kKrwdr0uJt
— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) April 21, 2019
SriLanka Targeted Because Of Its Diverse Cultures And Ethnicities
“These are certainly acts of terror,” the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK Manisha Gunasekera told CNN on Sunday, suggesting that suicide bombings had been “carried out.”
“This is an attack against the whole of Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka is [a] multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country and the whole country comes together in celebration of Easter Sunday.”
In a statement, the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo said that the hotel’s Table One cafe was hit just after 9 a.m local time. The hotel is popular with foreign tourists and the country’s business community. The blasts were carried out at the following places:
- Anthony’s Shrine, Colombo
- Sebastian’s Church, Negombo
- Zion Church, Batticaloa
- Cinnamon Grand, Colombo
- Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo
- The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo
- Near Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
- A house in Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda
Death Of Foreign Nationals In The Blasts Confirmed By Foreign Ministry
Three Indians, two Turkish nationals, and two Chinese citizens were identified as deceased among the hundreds who died, according to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry in a statement seen by CNN.
Five British citizens, including two dual US-UK nationals, were also killed in the bombings, the statement said. The UK Foreign Office has not yet confirmed the deaths, but British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, James Dauris, said some British citizens were also “caught in the blast.”
No Terror Outfit Has Yet Claimed Responsibility For The Attacks
There has not been claiming of responsibility by any terror organisation yet. Sri Lankan security officials said police and security services immediately rushed to all affected areas and sealed off the churches and hotels.
The rescue work and relief services have been working on it. The leaves of all police officials have been cancelled.
Social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, were blocked by the government while investigations were taking place. Sri Lanka has been almost in lockdown since the blasts.
(Inputs From CNN & Time; Photo Credits: AP)