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Sri Lanka blasts: World media says intel failure, rising extremism amid minority persecution to blame

While the world was celebrating Easter on Sunday, Sri Lanka witnessed eight bomb blasts across the Island Nation which killed over 200 people so far and injured as many as 500 as explosions tore through churches and luxury hotels in the South Asian country, in the worst violence to hit it since its devastating civil war ended a decade ago.

Condolences and support poured in from all quarters as world leaders expressed shock and grief over the tragedy induced by the violent and barbaric attack on an auspicious occasion. Even as Sri Lanka is yet to confirm the perpetrators of the multiple blasts, various theories of religious conflict and ethnic minority divide in the region have been speculated to be the reason behind it.

The international media also has since tried to explore the various angles of the rising incidents of attacks on religious places and piece together a link with an increase in hate crimes especially against persecuted minorities across the globe.

 Sri Lanka blasts: World media says intel failure, rising extremism amid minority persecution to blame

A series of bomb blasts rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday. Reuters

The Guardian in an opinion piece has tried to highlight how Christians in Sri Lanka were left too vulnerable to such attacks amid recent violence against the Muslim community in the country. The article reflects on the country's police being inept in providing enough security to the minorities despite the dangerous scenario leaving them exposed to an act of mass violence like this.

Meanwhile, as a ninth bomb was defused near the Colombo airport, questions were also raised on a possible intelligence lapse or an administrative failure in trying to pay heed to intel alerts and the government implementing on warning notices about an impending attack. The Washington Post reported that Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that "elements of government" had prior intelligence of the attacks. The report also mentions that they were a series of "well-planned suicide attacks", thereby hinting on a serious lapse by the Sri Lankan agencies in apprehending the situation. The Washington Post also laid out a timeline of how and when the series of attacks took place across the island nation and reported on the ban of social media in the country in the aftermath of the attacks.

On the other hand, The New York Times reported that the death toll on Monday morning had risen to nearly 300 with 24 arrests being done so far in connection with the blasts. While it emphasised that no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the publication did mention that a Lankan police officer had alerted security officials in an advisory 10 days ago about a threat to churches from a radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath. However, it did say that there is a question mark on who these 24 people taken into custody are, and which group do they belong to and also on the possible motive of the attackers to single out the Christian community in the largely peaceful country. The New York Times also analysed, amidst report of a possible hate crime motive, that how religious minorities across Asia are "suffering" or under threat from rising "sectarian politics".

Meanwhile, UK's Daily Mail chose to focus on the victims and the stories of their families who have been left aghast by the tragedy that struck them out of nowhere. It reported about three families which were present in the various five-star hotels in the country, which were targeted on Easter morning. The families were celebrating together with breakfast on a festival day when terror struck. The Daily Mail's report said the victims include at least 35 foreigners, believed to be Britons and Americans as well as nationals of Turkey, China, Portugal and the Netherlands.

The publication also suggested that extremist group Islamic State might be behind the carnage, considering the method of attack and weapons used along with a motive to target religious buildings hints at an Islamic State-inspired plot. "With suicide vests, Christians targeted on a religious holiday and a brutal contempt for civilian lives, the Sri Lankan bombings bear all the hallmarks of the terror group," one of its's headlines read. Reports on how the attackers casually went on lining up for a buffet in of the hotels minutes before unleashing mayhem were also published. Whereas, an opinion piece written by British journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown urges "good people of all faiths" to "beat the zealots" in wake of rising attacks on lines of religious divides.

Foreign Policy tried to look into Sri Lanka's violent past to find out what could possibly have caused such a major attack after a decade-long period of peace and silence.

Back home, leading Indian newspapers focused on the extensive coverage of the blasts and reportage from various locations while also focusing on the five Indians among those killed. Reports on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strong message in solidarity with the neighbouring nation in his Chittorgarh rally were also carried with prominence to bring out India's deepened ties with the affected nation. Also, The Indian Express reported that the Sri Lankan government is quite sure that international elements are involved in the blasts.

Another report focused on how such a big attack in the neighbouring country could set alarm bells ringing in India, given the latter's long-drawn battle with terrorism and in view of its own religious divides and incidents of attacks on minorities on the rise.

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Updated Date: Apr 22, 2019 11:56:52 IST