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Sri Lanka blasts Updates: UK’s royal family, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa condemn attacks, hail medical, emergency services

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Sri Lanka blasts Updates: UK’s royal family, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa condemn attacks, hail medical, emergency services
  • 00:06 (IST)

    Security tightened in India’s southern states

    Security in southern states, particularly in churches and other religious places, has been strengthened following the terror attacks in Sri Lanka.

    Security has also been stepped up in sensitive locations in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru and Goa, which is a major tourist destination, as a precautionary measure.

    Additional security arrangements in churches and other major religious sites in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been made, a security official said.

    PTI

  • 00:04 (IST)

    Prime minister kept out of intelligence briefings, says govt minister

    A rift between Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister came under scrutiny after a series of 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.

    Police had been warned this month about a possible attack on churches by a little-known domestic Islamist group, but Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had not been told of the report.

    It was not immediately clear what action, if any, was taken in response to the tip-off. “When we asked about the intelligence report, the prime minister was not aware of this,” said Senaratne, who also briefs reporters on the deliberations of the cabinet.

    It was not clear if the president Maithripala Sirisena was aware of the report, while the prime minister was no longer invited to council meetings because of the rift, Senaratne said. “As a government we have to say very, very sorry and we have to apologise to the families and their institutions about this incident,” said Senaratne.

    Reuters

  • 23:15 (IST)

    Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena has declared 23 April a national day of mourning.

    AP

  • 23:11 (IST)

    Tight security at Sri Lanka’s Velankanni Church

    Tight security cover has been provided to the Shrine Basilica at Velankanni and the ancient Danish Fort in Nagapattinam district in the wake of the serial bomb blasts.

    Security has been strengthened in all the 53 coastal hamlets in the district. District police, coast guard, coastal security group and forest department personnel have commenced patrolling in coastal areas, an official said.

    A 'three-tier' security cover has been provided to the Shrine Basilica and the Dansborg Fort at Tarangambadi. "Thorough vehicle checking is being conducted through the 19 checkposts in the district. In addition, people of the coastal areas have been requested to pass on information about the movement of strangers," he said.

    Police said security has been stepped up in the temple town of Rameswaram in Ramanathapuram district.

    PTI

  • 23:07 (IST)

    Blast occurred close to table as they sat for breakfast at Shangri-La

    The blast took place close to the table as the group of JD(S) workers sat for breakfast at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

    "Last morning while checking-in around 8 am, they have gone for breakfast and blast took place very close to their table," a relative of H Shivakumar, one of the victims of the blasts, said.

    Sister in-law of Puttaraju, another name that figured among those missing, not wishing to share her name, said the family has no information about him yet. "He was associated with JD(S) and had left on Saturday night along with friends just for relaxing as election was over, he was about to come back on 24 April, but this has happened probably some time after they have reached there. We are waiting for information," she said.

    PTI

  • 22:24 (IST)

    Britain’s royal family offer condolences

    Queen Elizabeth II gave a statement through The Royal Family Twitter account to express condolences after the Sri Lanka bomb blasts. “Prince Philip and I were deeply saddened to learn of the attacks in Sri Lanka and send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” the tweet read.

    “I pay tribute to the medical and emergency services who are providing support to those who have been injured.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all Sri Lankans at this difficult time,” the Queen conveyed her message through Twitter.

    Meanwhile, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Catherine said they were deeply saddened on learning about the ‘devastating attacks’. “Senseless acts like these in places that people would expect to be at their safest are truly horrifying," a tweet from The Kensington Royal Twitter handle read.

    "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives, to the Christian community, and to the people of Sri Lanka at this tragic time. You are all in our thoughts and prayers," another tweet said.

  • 21:59 (IST)

    South Africa condoles killings; pledges to combat global terrorism

    Expressing condolences over the killing of 290 people in Sri Lanka's worst terror attacks, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday pledged to intensify the fight against global terrorism.

    In a statement, Ramaphosa said the people of South Africa were joined with the people of Sri Lanka during this difficult time. "The President condemns the attacks in the strongest terms and emphasises that in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka, South Africa will continue to use its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council to prioritise the fight against terrorism and extremist groups across the world," the statement said.

    PTI

  • 21:38 (IST)

    Hotel Shangri-La, one of the sites of the blasts on Sunday, has been closed until further notice.

  • 20:49 (IST)

    Trump calls Sri Lankan PM to convey condolences

    US President Donald Trump called Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday to express condolences over the killing of nearly 300 people in suicide bomb blasts at churches and hotels.

    The attacks on Easter Sunday, which Sri Lankan authorities believe were carried out by a local Islamist group, were "one of the deadliest terrorist events since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States," White House spokesman Hogan Gidely said.

    "Trump pledged United States' support to Sri Lanka in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and the leaders re-affirmed their commitment to the fight against global terrorism," said the White House in a readout of the call.

    Agencies

  • 20:44 (IST)

    Sri Lankan rupee falls amid thin trade

    The Sri Lankan rupee fell 0.4 percent on importers’ dollar demand in thin Monday trading, after deadly explosions on Sunday.

    The Colombo Stock Exchange was closed on Monday due to Sunday’s attack. Investors kept away due to a curfew declared on Sunday. The currency ended at 174.60/70 to a dollar, weaker than Thursday’s close of 173.95/174.25, market sources said. The markets were closed on Friday for a public holiday.

    Analysts expect both stocks and rupee to plunge after the Easter Sunday attacks.

    Reuters

  • 20:24 (IST)

    Two JD(S) workers missing after explosions

    Other JD(S) workers whose deaths were confirmer ealier on Monday were Lakshmana Gowda Ramesh, KM Lakshminarayan, M Rangappa, KG Hanumantharayappa. A Maregowda and H Puttaraju are still missing.

  • 20:05 (IST)

    Indian High Commission in Colombo confirms one more death

    H Shivakumar was a JD(S) worker who was on a post-election break in Sri Lanka. He went missing after the blasts on Sunday.

  • 20:03 (IST)

    NC president Farooq Abdullah condemns Sri Lanka blasts

    National Conference president Farooq Abdullah Monday condemned the suicide blasts in Sri Lanka. He said the attack was a dreaded reminder that terror has no religion. "I take this opportunity to extend my condolences to all those Sri Lankans who are aggrieved at the loss of their loved ones," Abdullah said.

    "My thoughts are with the injured, I pray for their fast recovery. I pray that the world does not have to see such outrageous attacks in the future that claim many precious lives," the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said. He called for exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of these attacks.

    PTI

  • 19:53 (IST)

    Interpol deploys investigation team to probe blasts

    Interpol is deploying a team of investigators, including experts in disaster victim identification, to Sri Lanka to help local authorities in the aftermath of deadly suicide bomb blasts.

    Interpol said it was deploying an Incident Response Team (IRT) at the request of the Sri Lanka authorities, including specialists with expertise in crime scene examination, explosives, counter-terror and victim identification.  "If required, additional expertise in digital forensics, biometrics, as well as photo and video analysis will also be added to the team on the ground," it added.

    Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock said the organisation will "continue to provide whatever support is necessary”. "Information to help identify individuals linked to these attacks could come from anywhere in the world, which is where Interpol's global network and databases can prove vital, especially for officers on the ground," he said.

    AFP

  • 19:34 (IST)

    Priest recounts bomb blast at St Sebastian Church

    The assistant parish priest of the St Sebastian Church said that the Easter Sunday service was reduced to people wailing and shouting and nobody knew what was happening.

    Sanjeewa Appuphamy said that hundreds of people had turned up for the Easter celebrations in the church and it was almost the end of morning's celebrations when the bomb went off. ”Broken glass, dust, all of a sudden covered all the church. People were shouting, weeping, we didn't know what was happening," the priest said.

    The church, built in 1946, is one of the many churches in Sri Lanka dedicated to St Sebastian who is considered a martyr in the Catholic Church history.

    Bishop J D Anthony said that the church's rural location made it an unlikely target. "We never expected such a thing to happen, especially in a place of religious worship. This church is in a very rural area so we never expected this to happen here,” he said.

    PTI

  • 19:25 (IST)

    Three Lankan policemen killed in 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.

    One Sub Inspector and two constables were killed during a raid at a house in Colombo north suburb of Orugodawatta at Dematagoda on Sunday. When they entered the house, a suicide bomber blew himself, killing all of them. The Sub-Police Inspector was posthumously promoted as an Inspector while the two constables have been promoted to the ranks of Sergeants, he said.

    PTI

  • 19:22 (IST)

    First victim from the US in Sri Lanka blasts named

    The first US national to be named dead in the blasts in Sri Lanka is Dieter Kowalski, an employee of education publishing company Pearson. Kowalski was a senior leader of the company's operation services team and was killed in the terror attacks after he arrived at his hotel in Colombo.

  • 19:09 (IST)

    Three of Danish billionaire’s four children killed in blasts

    Three of the four children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen were killed in the Easter day attacks in Sri Lanka.

    Danish media have reported that Holch Povlsen his wife Anne and their four children were in Sri Lanka on vacation at the moment of the attacks. "I can confirm that three children have been killed," Jesper Stubkier, the communications manager for Povlsen’s company Bestseller, said in a statement.

    Considered to be Denmark's richest man, 46-year-old Holch Povlsen is the main shareholder in the online fashion retailer ASOS as well as owning Bestseller. The group, which includes brands such as Vero Moda, Only and Jack & Jones, has more than 3,000 stores in 70 countries.

    AFP

  • 18:55 (IST)

    Razeena died in blast as she was checking out from hotel

    Razeena Khader, the Keralite woman who died in a bomb blast at Colombo, was about to check out from a hotel there after a week's stay with her husband when the explosion occurred, a relative said.

    As her husband had to leave urgently for Dubai, Razeena saw him off at the airport in the morning and came back to the Shangri-La hotel where she was staying to check out, when the explosion took place, Usman, her brother-in-law, told reporters.

    The couple, who are settled in Dubai, had gone to Colombo to meet Razeenas relatives there. The couple has two children, Fara and Khanfar, who are settled in the US, he said.

    PTI

  • 18:50 (IST)

    Christians afraid to visit churches after blasts

    Members of Sri Lanka's Christian minority have been left afraid to go to church after deadly attacks that hit Easter services, killing nearly 300 and stoking fears of communal violence.

    Ranjan Christopher Fernard, a 55-year-old taxi driver from Negombo, said he was nervous about attending church after the attacks, which killed his friend's 11-year-old son. "Tonight we (my family) will all go to church to pray for the victims. Of course I feel afraid, but we have to go to church, we have to pray for the injured to get well soon," he said.

    "We never thought we would ever be targeted. We never thought we would ever need protection," said a priest in the grounds of St Sebastian Church.

    A pastor at People's Church in Colombo, who declined to be named, said police had told churches last week that they should brace for possible "incidents" and stay vigilant. "We increased security at our church last week. We have also been checking vehicles coming into the church premises," he said.

    AFP

  • 18:39 (IST)

    Battle against extremism in Sri Lanka is 'America's fight, too', says Pompeo

    He vowed that the United States will keep fighting "radical Islamic terror" after devastating attacks in Sri Lanka. "Radical Islamic terror remains a threat. We are continuing to do real work against these evil human beings," Pompeo told reporters.

    "This is America's fight, too," added Pompeo, who said he had spoken by telephone with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

    Asked if the threat showed the continued risks from the Islamic State group, Pompeo said the United States needs to "remain active and vigilant" around the world. "Sadly, this evil exists in the world," he said.

    AFP

  • 18:32 (IST)

    Wife, sister of Shangri La Hotel bomber killed in separate suicide blast

    The wife and sister of the suicide bomber at the Shangri La Hotel in Sri Lanka were also killed in a separate suicide blast after a bomber blew himself up causing the concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them in a suburb in northern Colombo, police told a court here on Monday.

    The police also informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate's Court that the suicide bomber of the Shangri-La hotel has been identified as Insan Seelavan, owner of a factory in Avissawella-Wellampitiya road, the Daily Mirror reported. 

    The wife and sister of the suicide bomber at the Shangri La Hotel were killed in a blast inside a house in Dematagoda, police told the court.

    PTI

  • 18:08 (IST)

    Sri Lanka announces compensation for bomb blast victims
     
    The Sri Lankan government on Monday announced that it will compensate the victims of the ghastly bomb blasts on Sunday.
     
    Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said that each victim in the attacks will be paid 1 million Sri Lankan rupees (USD 5,722), while about 1,00,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 572) would be given for the costs of the funeral processions, The Sunday Times reported.
     
    He said that the injured in the attacks would be paid between 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 570)- 300,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 1717). The spokesperson also stressed that all the damaged churches will be completely repaired by the government.
     
    PTI

  • 17:53 (IST)

    High Commission in Colombo confirms deaths of two more Indians

  • 17:51 (IST)

    Day after blasts, Sri Lanka's Negombo a town in mourning

    Relatives weep near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday 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.

    Inputs from AP

  • 17:43 (IST)

    Relatives endure grim screening to identify dead at Colombo morgue

    Some hid their eyes, some collapsed in tears as gruesome images of victims from Sri Lanka's Easter massacre were projected on to a screen in front of distraught relatives at a Colombo morgue on Monday.

    The pictures of some of the 290 dead are disturbing, with faces battered and bodies missing limbs.

    A Roman Catholic priest and a Buddhist counterpart waited in the corner of the courtyard to intervene when one of scores of people in the audience recognised a mother, brother or child.

    Many of the dead from attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels have been taken to the government morgue and people queued in the heat to get into the heart-wrenching identification slideshow.

    Eighteen bodies were released on Monday morning after relatives recognised a victim from the gruesome images shown in a corner of the morgue courtyard. 

    Identification is painstaking, physically and emotionally. Many badly mutilated bodies will only be identified with the DNA of relatives, officials said.

    Inputs from AFP

  • 17:18 (IST)

    Explosion occurred within 10 minutes of us evacuating our house, says local

    "The explosion took place around 30 minutes ago and my house is situated near the site of the blast. There was a white van parked at the spot. Within less than 10 of us evacuating our houses, the blast occurred," a local said.

    Input by Aanya Wipulasena

  • 17:03 (IST)

    39 foreign tourists killed in attacks

    Sri Lanka's minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels, while another 28 were wounded.

    John Amaratunga says his ministry is working closely with the ministry of foreign affairs and local diplomatic missions to "ensure formalities with regard to the victims are sorted out as quickly as possible."

    In Monday's statement he added, "The government has already offered assistance to all victims, the damaged places of worship as well as the hotels affected by Sunday's attacks." He said Sri Lanka's tourism industry and the government was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of those in the country.

    AP

  • 16:47 (IST)

    Bomb found inside van parked near St Anthony's Shrine neutralised

    A bomb was discovered inside a van in Kotahena, near the St Anthony's Shrine, and was neutralised through a controlled detonation by a bomb squad clad in protective gear. No casualties were reported.

    Input by Skandha Gunasekhra

  • 16:33 (IST)

    Eight British nationals killed in attacks, says top diplomat

    Sri Lanka's top diplomat in Britain says authorities know of eight British nationals killed in the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels in and around Colombo. High Commissioner to the UK Manisha Gunasekera told BBC on Monday that "as of now" it is believed eight British nationals died. She said the investigation is moving "very swiftly".

    British officials have said only that some Britons died. They have not provided information on the number of British casualties. More details are expected to emerge later Monday.

    Sri Lanka is a popular holiday destination for Britons.

    AP

  • 16:24 (IST)

    Terrorist groups continuing to plot possible attacks, says US's revised travel advisory

    The US State Department said in a revised travel advisory that ‘terrorist groups’ were continuing to plot possible attacks in Sri Lanka after the blasts on Sunday. “Terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” it said in the revised warning.

    The advisory said possible targets included tourist locations, transportation hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, airports and other public areas.

    Reuters

  • 16:20 (IST)

    Sri Lankan Special Task Force and Sri Lanka Air Force bomb disposal unit defused a suspected parcel inside a van near the St Anthony's Church, Kochchikade.​

    Input by Madhuksha Balasuriya

  • 16:13 (IST)

    Pope condemns Sri Lanka attacks as unjustifiable "terrorist acts"

    Pope Francis on Monday deplored the attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed nearly 300 people and called for universal condemnation of what he said were “terrorist acts, inhuman acts” that could never be justified.

    It was the second straight day that the pope condemned the attacks, which hit many Christians on Easter Sunday, the most important Christian feast day.

    Reuters

  • 15:48 (IST)

    Indian Coast Guard on high alert to prevent escape of perpetrators

    The Indian Coast Guard is on high alert along the maritime boundary with Sri Lanka to prevent the escape of perpetrators behind the series of explosions that occurred on Easter Sunday, ANI reported. Ships and maritime surveillance aircraft Dornier have been deployed on the maritime border.

  • 15:38 (IST)

    National Security Council orders 'Conditional state of emergency' to be effective tonight

    The National Security Council has ordered a conditional state of emergency, including Gazette clauses under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The order will be imposed starting midnight on Monday.

    Input by Skandha Gunasekhra

  • 15:34 (IST)

    US, Canada issue travel advisory

    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.
     
    The situation remains volatile in Sri Lanka after eight explosions rocked churches and luxury hotels, killing up to 290 people, including six Indians, and with over 500 sustaining injures.

  • 15:22 (IST)

    Rajitha Senaratne says international links will be probed

    Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said that the Sri Lanka government will investigate links between the local outfit suspected to be responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks and international elements. "We don't see that only a small organisation in this country can do all that," he said.

    "We are now investigating the international support for them, and their other links, how they produced the suicide bombers here, and how they produced bombs like this," he added, at a press conference.

  • 15:16 (IST)

    Sri Lanka police recover 87 low explosive detonators in Pettah

    Sri Lanka Police recovered 87 low explosive detonators abandoned at the Bastian Mawatha private bus stand in Pettah, the police spokesperson said on Monday.

    Input by Skandha Gunashekhra

  • 15:01 (IST)

    Sri Lanka govt seeks international assistance in probe into international links

    The Sri Lankan government is seeking global assistance to investigate the possibility of the perpetrators of the crime having international links, reports said.

    Documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka's police chief issued a warning on 11 April, saying that a "foreign intelligence agency" had reported NTJ was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.

    Reports also said that Sirisena was likely to declare 23 April as the national day of mourning in tribute to the victims of the explosions on Sunday.

  • 14:54 (IST)

    Nationwide emergency to be declared by Maithripala Sirisena from midnight today

    Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena is likely to delcare a nation-wide national emergency from midnight on Sunday, CNN-News18 reported.

  • 14:47 (IST)

    All bombers were Sri Lankan nationals, says minister

    Health Minister and the government spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, also said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.

    Seven suicide bombers were involved in eight blasts that targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in Negombo and Zeon Church in Batticaloa when the Easter Sunday mass were in progress. The explosions also struck three five-star hotels in Colombo — the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury. 

     
    No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, but police have so far arrested 24 people.

  • 14:39 (IST)

    National Tawheed Jamath behind Sri Lanka attacks says minister Rajitha Senaratne

    A local outfit identified as the National Tawheed Jamath is suspected of plotting the deadly Easter blasts that killed 290 people and wounded 500 others in the worst terror attack in the country's history, a top Sri Lankan minister said on Monday.
     
    Health Minister and the government spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, also said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.
     
    Speaking at a press conference, the minister said that the Chief of National Intelligence had warned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) regarding the probable attacks before 11 April.
     
    "On 4 April, international intelligence agencies had warned of these attacks. The IGP was informed on 9 April," Senaratne said. He said that the local outfit identified as the National Tawheed Jamath — a radical Muslim group — is suspected of plotting the deadly explosions.
     
    "There may be international links to them," he added.

    (PTI)

  • 14:28 (IST)

    HD Kumaraswamy names missing JD(S) workers

    Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, confirming the deaths of four JD(S) workers named the party workers who are still reported missing. "The three others who are missing are H ShivuKumar,A Maregowda and H Puttaraju. The Chief Secretary’s office is in constant touch with the Resident Commissioner at Karnataka Bhavan, New Delhi, and the families of the victims and the missing persons for further information on the," he tweeted.

  • 14:14 (IST)

    Update: HD Kumaraswamy says four JD(S) workers confirmed dead in Sri Lanka attacks

    Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy confirmed the deaths of four JD(S) workers from a seven-member team that was on a tour in Sri Lanka's Colombo.

    He said, "I am deeply pained at the loss of our people in the #colombo attacks. Out of the seven missing after the #TerrorAttack, four have been declared dead. Their names are Lakshmana Gowda Ramesh, KM Lakshminarayan, M Rangappa, and KG Hanumantharayappa."

  • 14:01 (IST)

    'Torn Bibles strewn on the floor': Sunday's attacks bring Christians to front-line in communally sensitive nation

    The Easter Sunday attacks on three churches in Sri Lanka mark a devastating escalation of violence against a Christian minority that has been targeted in the past, but never to such brutal and deadly effect.

    Ethnic and religious violence has plagued Sri Lanka for decades, with a 37-year conflict with Tamil rebels that claimed 100,000 lives and an upswing in recent years in clashes between the Buddhist majority and Muslims.

    While there have been attacks on Christians, their community had been left relatively unscathed, with anti-Muslim riots — whipped up in part by hardline, right-wing Buddhists grabbing the headlines.

    But that changed with Sunday's bombings on St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, St Sebastian's in Negombo to the north of the capital and the church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

    All three were left in ruins, bodies slumped over pews or lined up in aisles, torn bibles strewn over the floor. Along with attacks on four hotels, more than 200 people were killed.

    (AFP)

  • 13:57 (IST)

    Sri Lankan Muslim leaders call for 'maximum punishment' against perpetrators

    Top Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka on Monday demanded "maximum punishment" for the perpetrators of suicide bomb attacks on Christian churches and luxury hotels in the country that left at least 290 dead.

    The comments came as the government refused to give details of at least 24 people arrested over the Easter Sunday attacks for fear of fanning ethnic tensions. Scores of Christians were among the dead.

    "We urge the government to provide security to all religious sites and to give maximum punishment to everyone involved in these dastardly acts," said the All Ceylon Jamiyyathuul Ulama, or council of Muslim theologians.

    "On behalf of the Sri Lankan Muslim community we offer our condolences to the people of Christian faith and extend our hands of friendship in solidarity."

    (AFP)

  • 13:43 (IST)

    Sri Lanka govt orders night-time curfew after tensions remain high

    The Sri Lankan government on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew as tensions remained high after a series of suicide bomb attacks that left at least 290 dead.

    The government information department said the curfew would run from 8.00 pm on Monday until 4.00 am on Tuesday. An indefinite curfew ordered Sunday after the attacks was lifted early Monday but a two-day holiday was decreed in a bid to reduce public traffic.

  • 13:37 (IST)

    24 arrested suspects transferred to CID custody

    The number of arrests in connection with the series of explosions in Sri Lanka are currently at 24 and they have been transferred into the custody of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for further investigations, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera was quoted as saying by the local TV.

    (PTI)

  • 13:30 (IST)

    Indians looking for missing kin in Sri Lanka tweet to Sushma Swaraj

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who gained the reputation of being accessible for Indians at home and abroad via her Twitter account, has been responding to queries about missing family members after a series of explosions rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

  • 13:19 (IST)

    Indian families reach out to Sushma Swaraj for news on missing kin

    India on Sunday strongly condemned the serial blasts in Sri Lanka and called for concerted global action to deal with terrorism. The Ministry of External Affairs, through India in Sri Lanka, also released helpline numbers for Indians looking for assistance.

Sri Lanka blasts Updates: The Indian High Commission in Colombo confirmed the death of one more Indian, named H Shivakumar.

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.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after the blasts in Sri Lanka that fighting radical Islam terror is 'America's fight too'.

The first US national to be named dead in the blasts in Sri Lanka was Dieter Kowalski, an employee of education publishing company Pearson.

The wife and sister of the suicide bomber at the Shangri La Hotel in Sri Lanka were also killed in a separate suicide blast after a bomber blew himself up causing the concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them in a suburb in northern Colombo.

Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said that each victim in the attacks will be paid 1 million Sri Lankan rupees (USD 5,722), while about 1,00,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 572) would be given for the costs of the funeral processions, The Sunday Times reported.

He said that the injured in the attacks would be paid between 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 570)- 300,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 1717). The spokesperson also stressed that all the damaged churches will be completely repaired by the government.

The Indian High Commission in Colombo confirmed the deaths of two more Indians in the attacks. The names of the deceased are Vemurai Tulsiram and SR Nagaraj, according to the High Commission's Twitter handle.

A bomb found inside a van parked in Kotahena, an area near the St Anthony's Shrine, was defused through a controlled detonation. No casualties were reported.

The US State Department revised its travel advisory, stating that terrorist groups may be plotting similar attacks.

Sri Lankan Special Task Force and Sri Lanka Air Force bomb disposal unit defused a suspected parcel inside a van near the St Anthony's Church, Kochchikade.

Sri Lanka Police recovered 87 low explosive detonators abandoned at the Bastian Mawatha private bus stand in Pettah, the police spokesperson said on Monday.

The National Security Council has ordered a conditional state of emergency, including Gazette clauses under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The order will be imposed starting midnight on Monday.

Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena is likely to delcare a nation-wide national emergency from midnight on Sunday, CNN-News18 reported.

The Sri Lankan government is seeking global assistance to investigate the possibility of the perpetrators of the crime having international links, reports said.

Documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka's police chief issued a warning on 11 April, saying that a "foreign intelligence agency" had reported NTJ was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.

Reports also said that Sirisena was likely to declare 23 April as the national day of mourning in tribute to the victims of the explosions on Sunday.

Health Minister and the government spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, also said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.

Seven suicide bombers were involved in eight blasts that targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in Negombo and Zeon Church in Batticaloa when the Easter Sunday mass were in progress. The explosions also struck three five-star hotels in Colombo — the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, but police have so far arrested 24 people.

A local outfit identified as the National Tawheed Jamath is suspected of plotting the deadly Easter blasts that killed 290 people and wounded 500 others in the worst terror attack in the country's history, a top Sri Lankan minister said on Monday.

Health Minister and the government spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, also said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister said that the Chief of National Intelligence had warned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) regarding the probable attacks before 11 April.

"On 4 April, international intelligence agencies had warned of these attacks. The IGP was informed on 9 April," Senaratne said. He said that the local outfit identified as the National Tawheed Jamath — a radical Muslim group — is suspected of plotting the deadly explosions. "There may be international links to them," he added.

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy confirmed the deaths of four JD(S) workers from a seven-member team that was on a tour in Sri Lanka's Colombo.

He said, "I am deeply pained at the loss of our people in the #colombo attacks. Out of the seven missing after the #TerrorAttack, four have been declared dead. Their names are Lakshmana Gowda Ramesh, KM Lakshminarayan, M Rangappa, and KG Hanumantharayappa."

The Easter Sunday attacks on three churches in Sri Lanka mark a devastating escalation of violence against a Christian minority that has been targeted in the past, but never to such brutal and deadly effect.

Ethnic and religious violence has plagued Sri Lanka for decades, with a 37-year conflict with Tamil rebels that claimed 100,000 lives and an upswing in recent years in clashes between the Buddhist majority and Muslims.

While there have been attacks on Christians, their community had been left relatively unscathed, with anti-Muslim riots — whipped up in part by hardline, right-wing Buddhists grabbing the headlines.

But that changed with Sunday's bombings on St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, St Sebastian's in Negombo to the north of the capital and the church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

All three were left in ruins, bodies slumped over pews or lined up in aisles, torn bibles strewn over the floor. Along with attacks on four hotels, more than 200 people were killed.

The Sri Lankan government on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew as tensions remained high after a series of suicide bomb attacks that left at least 290 dead.

The government information department said the curfew would run from 8.00 pm on Monday until 4.00 am on Tuesday. An indefinite curfew ordered Sunday after the attacks was lifted early Monday but a two-day holiday was decreed in a bid to reduce public traffic.

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.

Hours after the initial series of explosions in churches and hotels, police raided two addresses. There were explosions at both of these addresses, with three police officers killed at one location in a suicide blast. A home-made bomb was defused at the Colombo airport late on Sunday.

For many Sri Lankans, Sunday's attacks against churches and high-end hotels brought back painful memories of a conflict that lasted three decades and killed as many as 100,000 people.

During those years, bomb attacks were a regular occurrence, and left many Sri Lankans on edge in the streets and on public transport. In the capital, street sweeper Malathi Wickrama said Monday he was now nervous doing his job.

"Now we are afraid to even touch black plastic bags with garbage," he said. "The string of blasts yesterday brings back memories of the time when we were afraid to go in buses or trains because of parcel bombs."

With the lifting of a nationwide curfew early Monday morning, people began to emerge into Colombo's streets, where security was heavy.

The Associated Press quoted a Sri Lankan government forensic analyst as saying that six of the explosions that occurred in three churches, and three hotels on Easter Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy expressed shock over reports of missing JD(S) workers from a team of seven in the Sri Lanka blasts on Sunday. Two others have been reported dead.

"I'm shocked to hear that a 7-member team of JD(S) 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," ANI quoted him as saying.

The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that two JD(S) workers have died in the blast that occurred in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo on Easter Sunday. CNN-News18 reported that a team of seven JD(S) workers had gone to Colombo on 20 April, and also that five of them are missing.

The report also said that Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said that he was "shocked" with the news of the missing JD(S) workers.

At least six Indians have been killed in a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, which struck three churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials told PTI on Monday.

The police said on Monday that at least six Indian nationals have been reported among the foreigners who died in the blasts. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday identified two more individuals killed in the blasts on Sunday.

"We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday, KG Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa," Swaraj retweeted the Indian High Commission in Colombo's tweet. On Sunday, Swaraj, in a series of tweets, identified the three Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.

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.

Sri Lanka police on Monday said that the van which had carried explosives to carry out bomb attacks at the three hotels had been arrested with its driver. A safe house where the bombers had lived for nearly three months leading to the attacks were discovered in the south of Colombo suburb of Panadura.

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people from the minority Muslim community in connection with the multiple blasts that rocked the island nation on Sunday, killing over 290 people.

PTI quoted police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera as saying that the number of arrests on the incidents has now gone up to 24.

Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged people to be united and coordinate with the security forces in their investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 290 people and injured hundreds more.

He also asked people to refrain from spreading fake news and misinformation as that would "divert" the time and efforts of the security forces "from bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice".

Sri Lankan government has refused to disclose details of the 13 people who were arrested in connection with the bomb blasts. The decision has been taken to prevent them from getting publicity. “Don't give extremists a voice. Don't help to make them martyrs," State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told reporters when asked for details of those in custody.

The toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also wounded, police told Reuters on Monday.

The toll overnight had stood at 207. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of those killed and wounded at each of the three churches and four hotels hit on Sunday, attacks that marked the most significant violence since a bloody civil war ended 10 years ago.

A memo that warned of a potential attack was circulated a day before the deadly explosions in Sri Lanka, reports CNN. The memo dated 11 April was signed by Sri Lanka's deputy inspector general of police. Titled Information of an Alleged Plan attack, the memo stated: "The State Intelligence service stated that information has been received regarding an alleged plan of suicidal attack by the leader of 'Nations Thawahid Jaman Mohomad Saharan.'"

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

The discovery comes after a series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services, killing at least 207 people, including dozens of foreigners. "It was a crude six-foot pipe bomb that was found by the roadside," an air force spokesman said. "We have removed it and safely defused it at an air force location."

There were disruptions to flights, but Sri Lanka's national carrier Sri Lankan has already asked leaving passengers to report to check-in counters at least four hours prior to departure because of tight security checks at the Bandaranaike International airport.

The apparently coordinated attacks were the deadliest to hit the country in the decade since the end of a bloody civil war that killed up to 100,000 people and evoked painful memories for many Sri Lankans.

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Updated Date: Apr 23, 2019 00:16:50 IST