Easter Sunday horror
Seven suspects were arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on eight churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that left more than 200 dead and hundreds more injured, the country’s defense minister said 10 years after the end of a civil war in which bomb blasts in the South Asian nation were common. The string of assaults rocked the capital of Colombo and Batticaloa in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province.
Anil Jayasinghe, director general of hospitals at the Ministry of Health, said there were foreigners among the dead, while nearly 500 wounded people had been taken to various hospitals for treatment. A police official said that 35 foreigners were among the dead and hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens had been killed, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man, two Chinese citizens, and an Indian citizen were among the dead, news agencies in their countries reported. Three police were killed during the raids on a house in Colombo on Sunday afternoon after the government announced it would impose a country-wide curfew and suspended social media.
By the early evening, the death toll had reached 215, with 450 people injured. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a National Security Council meeting at his home. An island-wide curfew was announced. “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,” the prime minister said in a Twitter post. “Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation.
The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.” As of Sunday evening local time, no group had claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted a country that fought a decades-long war with Tamil separatists until 2009, but where there has been a lull in violence for at least a decade.
Access to major social media platforms and messaging services were suspended temporarily by the Sri Lankan government. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the seventh blast hit a hotel in the southern Colombo suburb of Dehiwala, killing two people.