Sri Lanka: Terrorist attacks claim over 280 victims

Colombo – After the six attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka with more than 280 deaths, there have been two more explosions in Colombo, the capital of the south Asian country. The seventh occurred at a hotel, the eighth in a city suburb.

Sri Lanka’s government blamed a local radical Islamic group for the devastating attacks on Easter Sunday. Seven suicide bombers had killed nearly 300 people in three churches and three luxury hotels and injured several hundred. The government is firmly convinced that the group National Thowheeth Jama’ath committed the attacks, said cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne.

The motives of the assassins were still unclear on Monday morning. Police have now arrested 24 suspects who would be interrogated.

More than a week before the series of attacks, the country’s police had indications of possible attacks on churches. The deputy chief of police wrote a letter on April 11 warning of attacks by a local radical Islamic group on Catholic churches and the Indian embassy in Sri Lanka.  

Prime Minister had not been informed about plans of attack

Only about ten percent of Sri Lanka’s population are Muslims. Islamist terrorist attacks had so far not existed in the tropical island state. Cabinet spokesman Senaratne confirmed in a press conference the authenticity of information sent to several police units that the Telecommunications Minister had previously published on Twitter. However, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was not informed.

The explosions in three churches and three luxury hotels had taken place almost simultaneously on Sunday morning – they were committed by a total of seven suicide bombers, according to a forensic defense forensic officer.

At first, there were no further details about two later explosions in another hotel and a residential area in suburbs of the capital Colombo. Altogether there were at least eight detonations. Easter church services were taking place in the churches. There were the most victims. On Sunday evening, near the largest airport on the island, about 30 kilometers from Colombo, an explosive device was found and defused, as a spokesman for the Air Force announced.

As Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said in a televised speech, those arrested all came from Sri Lanka.