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Sri Lanka blasts updates: Sri Lanka imposes emergency, says international network involved in attacks

Sri Lanka Blasts updates: Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said Monday. Follow updates here

By Agencies | Apr 22, 2019 21:31 IST
highlights

At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured in eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside Sri Lanka’s capital on Easter Sunday.

Three Indians were killed in the serial bombings in Sri Lanka on Sunday, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter.

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

Follow updates here:

9:00 pm IST

Sri Lanka PM not alerted to warning of attack because of feud, says minister

A rift between Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister, which sparked a crisis last year, came under scrutiny on Monday a day after a series of deadly bomb blasts, with questions over how the government handled a recent warning of an attack.

The premier has been kept out of intelligence briefings since he fell out with the president, a government minister said, a day after the Easter attacks.

8:25 pm IST

Sri Lankans scour hospitals, morgue for loved ones

Sri Lankans scoured hospitals and morgues for missing loved ones on Monday, a day after suicide bomb attacks on churches holding Easter services and luxury hotels killed 290 people and wounded about 500.

7:50 pm IST

Prime suspects of Sri Lanka blasts linked to vandalising Buddhist statues

Before being named prime suspects in Sri Lanka’s Easter bomb suicide attacks, the little-known Islamic extremist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath’s main claim to notoriety was being linked to vandalising of Buddhist statues. :AFP

7:25 pm IST

‘Battle against extremism in Sri Lanka America’s fight, too’: Michael Pompeo

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Battle against extremism in Sri Lanka ‘America’s fight, too’. :AFP

 

6:50 pm IST

3 Lankan policemen killed in Easter blasts posthumously promoted

Three policemen, who were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up causing the concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them in the Sri Lankan capital, have been posthumously promoted.

6:35 pm IST

Colombo Stock Exchange closed, investors keep away due to curfew

The Colombo Stock Exchange was closed on Monday due to Sunday’s attack. Investors kept away due to a curfew declared on Sunday. It was lifted at 0600 hours on Monday, but the government has again declared curfew from 2000 hours.

6:20 pm IST

Sri Lanka rupee falls in thin trade after explosions

The Sri Lankan rupee fell 0.4 percent on importers’ dollar demand in thin Monday trading, after deadly explosions rocked the Indian Ocean island on Easter Sunday that killed at least 290 people.

6:00 pm IST

Sri Lanka filled with fear as tourists could cancel plans in droves

With its capital under curfew following devastating Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and upmarket hotels, Sri Lanka is filled with fear, horror and grief and tourists who have been flocking to the Indian Ocean island could cancel in droves.

5:45 pm IST

7 Indians among 290 killed in Sri Lanka Easter blasts

The death toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose to 290 on Monday with over 500 injured, police have said. Six Indians were among those killed in the bombings in Sri Lanka, confirmed India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday.

5:40 pm IST

Sri Lanka’s bomb carnage casts pall over tourism revival

A tweet posted on the travel booking website First Choice captured the trepidation among holidaymakers, while some airlines and travel agents said they would waive cancellation charges for people scheduled to travel imminently.

“What are you doing about the holidays you have booked to that country?” tourist Judith Ann Clayton asked on the social media site.

“Clearly it is unsafe for anyone to go there.”

5:30 pm IST

Emergency to go into effect in Sri Lanka on Monday midnight

The emergency law, which gives police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders, will go into effect at midnight on Monday, the president’s office said.

5:15 pm IST

Sri Lanka imposes emergency, says international network involved in attacks

Sri Lanka said on Monday it was invoking emergency powers in the aftermath of devastating bomb attacks on hotels and churches, blamed on militants with foreign links, in which 290 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded.

The emergency law, which gives police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders, will go into effect at midnight on Monday, the president’s office said.

4:30 pm IST

Three children of Scotland billionaire killed in Sri Lanka attacks

Three of the four children of Danish billionaire have died in Sri Lanka’s deadliest terror attacks that killed 290 people and injured over 500 others, a media report said on Monday.

Anders Holch Povlsen, 46, is Denmark’s wealthiest man and is believed to be the largest landowner in Scotland after buying a string of historic estates.

The family were visiting Sri Lanka over the Easter holiday. The names of the children have not been made public.

4:12 pm IST

Fresh explosion in van near Colombo church

Fresh explosion in a van near Colombo church while Sri Lanka bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it, says Reuters witness.

 

4:03 pm IST

Be extra cautious, police advise hotel owners in Dharamshala

Hotel owners in Dharamshala and other tourist places in Himachal Pradesh have been instructed to maintain “extra caution” in view of Sunday’s terror attack in Sri Lanka, officials said.

In a meeting with tourism sector stakeholders in Dharamshala on Monday, DIG, police, Santosh Patial asked the owners of about 150 hotels to be careful when recruiting staff and to check their documents thoroughly.

He further instructed them to be vigilant during the checking in of guests and to only accept genuine documents.

3:50 pm IST

Police find 87 bomb detonators at Colombo bus stand

Sri Lanka police today found 87 bomb detonators at Colombo’s main bus stand, said a spokesperson as quoted by news agency Reuters.

3:15 pm IST

Sri Lanka to seek help tracking international links

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will ask for foreign assistance to track international links to a series of suicide bomb at churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday that killed 290 people and wounded more than 500, his office said.

“The intelligence reports (indicate) that foreign terrorist organisations are behind the local terrorists. Therefore, the president is to seek the assistance of the foreign countries,” it said in a statement.

The president will also declare a nationwide emergency that will go into effect at midnight on Monday. This measure, which will grant police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate without court orders, was in force at various times during the civil war with Tamil separatists.

2:47 pm IST

Sri Lankan president to declare nationwide emergency from midnight

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena to declare nationwide emergency from midnight on Monday following Easter Day blasts, reported news agency Reuters.

2:27 pm IST

‘International network’ involved in Sri Lanka bombings: Cabinet spokesman

The Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka were carried out with the help of an international network, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said on Monday.

“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” Senaratne said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

2:16 pm IST

Local militant group behind blasts: Sri Lanka’s health minister

Sri Lanka’s health minister says local militant group is behind Easter Sunday attacks, reported news agency Associated Press.

2:09 pm IST

4 JD(S) workers killed, 3 missing

Four Janata Dal (Secular) leaders from Karnataka were killed in Colombo and three others are yet to contact their families after Sunday’s serial blasts in the Sri Lankan capital that killed 290 people, including 5 Indians, and injured more than 500.

1:39 pm IST

US, Canada issue travel advisories to citizens travelling to Sri Lanka

The US and Canada have issued travel advisories to their citizens seeking to visit Sri Lanka, citing threats of terrorism, a day after the calm of Easter Sunday was shattered by gruesome bombings targeting the country’s churches and hotels that killed at least 290 people.

According to advisories, travellers should exercise a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka due the current security situation.

The US Embassy said terrorists may attack with little or no warning targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports and other public areas.

The US citizens travelling to or residing in Sri Lanka were advised to enrol in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the latest security updates, the Sunday Times reported.

1:29 pm IST

Interpol offers Sri Lanka assistance to investigate Easter Sunday blasts

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.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims,” he tweeted.

1:24 pm IST

Curfew in Colombo from 8 pm to 4 am

Sri Lankan authorities order curfew in Colombo from 8 pm to 4 am, said the government information department, reported news agency Reuters.

12:30 pm IST

Tourists Flee Sri Lanka

Tourists are scrambling to leave Sri Lanka and hotels are bracing for cancellations after a deadly terrorist attack that killed 290 people targeted foreigners and churchgoers.

Holidaymakers are flocking to the main airport, cutting short their vacations in the wake of coordinated blasts at churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, the worst violence since the end of a civil war a decade ago.

Kishu Gomes, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said he couldn’t give an exact count of the number of people leaving, but it could run into the thousands. Tour operators in India, the biggest source market for visitors to Sri Lanka, are also canceling trips for clients. That would hurt an industry that contributes almost 5 percent to the economy.

The foreigner death toll rose to 39 on Monday, including nationals from India, Portugal, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. Authorities haven’t revealed information on who may be responsible for the strikes.

12:02 pm IST

Why Sri Lanka does not trust social media platforms

Battling the spread of hate speech on social media platforms especially Facebook for long, the Sri Lanka government on Sunday once again “temporarily blocked” social media from spreading fake news in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in the island that killed 290 people.

In a brief statement, the Sri Lankan President’s Secretary Udaya Seneviratne said the government has “decided to temporarily block social media sites including Facebook and Instagram in an effort to curb false news reports”.

Several users in the country reported they could not access Facebook and its photo-sharing service Instagram, Google-owned YouTube and WhatsApp for most part of the day.

11:41 am IST

6 church, hotel bombings carried out by 7 suicide bombers: Forensic analyst

Sri Lankan government forensic analyst told news agency AP that six church and hotel bombings were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

11:11 am IST

24 people arrested

Sri Lankan authorities on Monday arrested 11 more people, all reportedly members of a Muslim radical group, taking the total number of arrests to 24 as police stepped up the investigation into the multiple blasts that rocked the island nation on Easter Sunday that killed over 290 people.

A string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing over 290 people, including five Indians, and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

11:09 am IST

‘Terrorists’ continue plotting Sri Lanka attacks, warns US State Dept

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

“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.

11:06 am IST

‘Horrific’, ‘cruel’, ‘sad’: World reacts to 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.

Japan also confirmed one of its citizens was among those killed by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.

10:58 am IST

7 JD(S) workers missing

“I’m shocked to hear that a 7-member team of JDS 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,” tweeted Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.

8:55 am IST

Panicked at first, Sri Lankans anxious over what’s to come

Bhanuka Harischandra was running a little late for his meeting Sunday.

As a car carrying him pulled into the back entrance of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo, he realized something was wrong.

People were telling him not to come in, it wasn’t safe. Still, the car pulled around to the front of the hotel and Harischandra saw the aftermath of a bombing. People were being evacuated, others were being dragged. Blood and ambulances were everywhere.

“It was panic mode,” Harischandra, a 24-year-old founder of a tech marketing company, said by telephone later in the day. “I didn’t process it for a while.”

He decided to go to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where he thought it would be safe. But just after he was dropped at the luxury hotel and about to enter the building, he heard another bomb go off.

Now he was being evacuated. Soot and ash fell on his white sweat shirt.

8:35 am IST

Possible intel failures to be examined

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, reported news agency Associated Press.

The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday the death toll, which was 207 late Sunday, had risen overnight but the figure wasn’t immediately released.

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.

Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena previously described the blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.

8:26 am IST

Death toll rises to 290

The toll in a series of eight blasts targeting mostly churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday has risen to 290, a police spokesman said Monday.

More than 500 people were wounded in the blasts, he added, in the deadliest violence since the end of the country’s long-running civil war a decade ago.

8:07 am IST

5 Indian nationals killed

“We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday

K G Hanumantharayappa, M Rangappa,” tweeted India in Sri Lanka, the official twitter handle of High Commission of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

8:02 am IST

Sri Lanka police chief had warned of attacks on churches 10 days ago

Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”, according to the warning seen by AFP.

Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat.

“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,” said the alert.

7:58 am IST

Curfew in Sri Lanka lifted

Authorities lifted a curfew in the Sri Lanka on Monday, a day after 290 people were killed and about 500 wounded by a string of bombings that tore through churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.

There was still no claim of responsibility for the attacks on two churches and four hotels in and around Colombo, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka, and a third church on the country’s northeast coast.

A government source said President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.

7:55 am IST

Indian Visa application centre in Sri Lanka closed for 2 days

The Indian Visa application centre - IVS LANKA will remain closed on April 22 and 23, tweeted India in Sri Lanka, the official twitter handle of High Commission of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

7:53 am IST

Sri Lanka blocks social media

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.

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.”

7:51 am IST

17 foreign nationals killed

At least 17 people from eight countries, including three from India, are amongst those who were killed in eight deadly blasts which rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday, said Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said that 19 foreign nationals injured in the attacks are receiving treatment at Colombo National Hospital.

People from at least eight countries were killed in the series of attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, including five citizens of Britain, three Indian nationals, three Danes, two each from China and Turkey and one each from Netherlands and Portugal, reported CNN.

The ministry said in a statement earlier that nine foreign nationals were reported missing and that 25 unidentified bodies at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s mortuary were believed to be that of foreigners, reported CNN.

7:49 am IST

3 Indian nationals killed in blasts

Three Indians were killed in the serial bombings in Sri Lanka on Sunday, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter. But a woman from Kasargod district in north Kerala who was killed in one of the blasts was not among the three Swaraj named.

“Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals. Their names are Laxmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. We are ascertaining further details,’ the minister tweeted.

7:47 am IST

Improvised bomb defused near Colombo airport

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

7:40 am IST

13 arrested

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, reported news agency AFP.

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.