Death toll from Sri Lanka bombings reaches 300

April 22, 2019

At least 500 wounded as South Asian nation reels from the attacks that targeted churches and hotels across the country.

A series of coordinated explosions has rocked churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killing almost 300 people on Easter Sunday in the South Asian island nation.

More than 500 people have been injured in the worst attack since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.

The blasts targeted four hotels, including the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand in the capital Colombo.

Nearly all victims were Sri Lankan. Dozens of foreigners were also killed. 

There were no claims of responsibility for the attacks.

Here are the latest updates: 

Monday, April 22:

'Seven suicide bombers' carried out church, hotel attacks

A Sri Lankan government forensic analyst told AP news agency that six of the bombings on the churches and hotels on Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

Death toll rises to 290: police

The death toll from the Easter Sunday explosions in Sri Lanka has risen to 290 with almost 500 people wounded, a police spokesperson said on Monday. 

The police added that the investigation into the bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence.

Authorities also lifted a curfew that was in place overnight following the bombings. The streets in the capital, Colombo, were largely deserted on Monday morning, with most shops closed and a heavy deployment of soldiers and police. 

More arrests made by the police

Police say they have now arrested at least 24 people in connection to Sunday's bombings.

Police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said that the individuals arrested, all locals, were being questioned by the Criminal Investigations Department.

Improvised bomb defused near Colombo airport: police

An improvised pipe bomb discovered close to Colombo's main airport has been successfully defused, according to police.

The "homemade" pipe bomb was found late on Sunday on a road leading towards the main terminal, which remains open with heavy security after deadly attacks on churches and hotels.

Sunday, April 21:

'No one can dry our tears today'

Sinan M Salahuddin's uncle, 43-year-old Mohamed Rishard was killed when an explosion hit the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. "He was my mentor, my guardian. It is a huge loss for us," he told Al Jazeera. 

Rishard the owner of the automobile dealership Exotic Cars, left behind his wife, three teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son. "He started his business from scratch, he was a self-made man and always wanted to help others in need. He was a mentor to many," said 29-year-old Salahuddin. 

"His wife is devastated ... No one can dry our tears today," he said. 

Read more here

Police say 13 suspects arrested

Ruwan Gunasekara, a police spokesperson, said 13 suspects have been arrested in connection with the bombings in Sri Lanka

In a statement, Gunasekara said police have obtained a vehicle they suspect was used to transport the suspects into Colombo. Police also found a safe house used by the attackers, it added. 

Gov't 'alerted to possible attacks before bombings'

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has acknowledged that "information was there" about possible attacks before bomb blasts ripped through churches and hotels in Colombo and two other towns.

"While this goes on we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken," he said.

Eight people have so far been arrested in connection with the deadly blasts, Wickremesinghe said. 

"So far the names that have come up are local," he said, adding that investigators would look into whether the attackers had any "overseas links". 

Read more here.

Muslim groups condemn attacks

Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka condemned the attacks on churches and hotels in the country on Easter Sunday that killed more than 200 people.

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourns the loss of innocent people in the blasts by violent elements who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups.

The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, a body of Muslim scholars, said targeting Christian places of worship was unacceptable. 

Indians, Turks, Britons among victims

The nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified, Sri Lanka's foreign ministry said. 

They include three Indians, one Portuguese national, two Turkish nationals, three British nationals and two holding US and British nationalities.

Nine foreigners were reported missing, the statement added. 

'Heart-wrenching scenes'

Family members of victims were given a chance to identify the bodies of their loved ones, as body bags were lined up outside the St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo late on Sunday evening.

"There were absolutely heart-wrenching scenes," said Al Jazeera's Minelle Fernandez, reporting from the church. "Hundreds of people were wailing at the top of their voices as families who were looking for missing loved ones were allowed to look at the fatalities from this church."

"Many of the people still do not where their loved ones are," she added. 

UK says citizens caught in bombings

The British high commissioner to Sri Lanka said the UK government understands that "some British citizens were caught in the blasts" but it is too soon to say how many might have been affected.

James Dauris urged Britons to get in touch with family members to let them know they are safe.

Two Turkish engineers killed in blasts

Two Turkish citizens were among those killed in bomb blasts at three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka, according to Turkey's state media Anadolu Agency.

The Turks were engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka, Anadolu reported.    

Chinese national killed in attacks

One Chinese national was killed during the attacks on Sri Lankan churches and hotels on Sunday, Chinese state newspaper People's Daily said.

Earlier, state news agency Xinhua said four Chinese nationals were injured, but were in a stable condition in hospital.

Seven suspects arrested 

The defence minister says seven suspects linked to the blasts have been arrested as security was stepped up at Sri Lanka's international airport.

PM calls emergency meeting

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened Sri Lanka's top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following the blasts. He has also called for an emergency convening of the nation's parliament on Monday.

Death toll rises to 185 people

Dr Anil Jasinghe, the health ministry's director-general of health services, told Al Jazeera that 185 people have died in the attacks that targeted different parts of the country. The government has yet to confirm the new death toll.

'Temporary' social media ban 

Sri Lanka's government said on Sunday it would impose a "temporary" social media ban in the wake of the blasts.

Social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, have been blocked.

"The government has decided to block all social media platforms in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread. This is only a temporary measure" Udaya R Seneviratne, secretary to the president said in a statement.

Nationwide curfew imposed

Sri Lanka's government imposed a nationwide curfew on Sunday that police said would go into effect immediately and would last "until further notice", in the wake of coordinated attacks.

Sri Lanka's defence ministry initially said the curfew would be imposed overnight, but the police subsequently said it would go into effect straight away.

Pope condemns Easter attacks

Pope Francis on Sunday condemned attacks that killed at least 156 people in three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka as "such cruel violence" and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter.

The blasts, which hospital and police officials said wounded more than 400 people.

Eighth blast suicide bomb: Police

The eighth blast in a string of explosions that hit Sri Lanka on Sunday was carried out by a suicide bomber and killed three police officers, a police source told AFP news agency.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suicide bomber detonated his explosives when police entered a house in a northern suburb of the capital Colombo to carry out a search.

The upper floor of the house collapsed in the blast, killing the police officers. The blast was the latest in a string targeting mostly hotels and churches that have killed at least 156 people in a single day.

Pictures of destruction

Sri Lanka - a popular tourist destination - is reeling from its worst attacks in a decade.

At least 75 people were killed in attacks on two churches - St Sebastian's gothic-style Catholic church north of Colombo and an evangelical church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

Read more here.

PM condemns bombings 

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has condemned the attacks saying it is "an attempt to make the country and its economy unstable".

"On behalf of the Government, I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the injured persons and the relations of the deceased consequent to the recent attacks occurred this morning," the statement said.

"I condemn these attacks which targeted religious places and some hotels. We all should join hands to protect law and order. I have already instructed the Secretary / Defence, Tri Forces Commanders and the Inspector General of Police to take stringent action to ensure law and order in the country," it said.

(Source: Aljazeera)

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