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Sri Lanka serial bombings: 215 killed in ghastly attacks; 3 Indians among dead; 13 suspects arrested

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Colombo, Apr 21: Eight devastating blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (April 21), killing 215 people, including three Indians, and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

The blasts - one of the deadliest attacks in the country's history - targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.

Sri Lanka serial bombings

Explosions were reported from three five-star hotels - the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera confirmed 207 deaths. However, the News 1st channel said that 215 people have died in the blasts. Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Kishu Gomes said 33 foreign nationals were killed in the coordinated attacks believed to be carried out by a single group.

Director of the National Hospital Dr Anil Jasinghe identified 12 of the 33 foreign nationals, which include three Indians, two Chinese and one each from Poland, Denmark, Japan, Pakistan, America, Morocco and Bangladesh. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, identified the three Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.

[Suicide bombers, RDX: What made the Colombo bombings so lethal]

Around 500 people, including Indians, were injured in the attacks. No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks. However, most of the deadly attacks in the past in Sri Lanka were carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Briefing reporters, Gunasekera said the police was not able to confirm at the moment if they were all suicide attacks. He, however, said that one of the blasts at the Katuwapitiya (Negombo) church has signs of being what looked like a suicide attack. An unnamed official said a suicide bomber blew himself up at the restaurant of the Cinnamon Grand hotel.

Gunasekara said that 66 bodies were kept at the National Hospital while 260 injured were receiving treatment there and 104 bodies were placed at the Negombo Hospital and 100 injured were receiving treatment at the Hospital.

[Colombo bombings: ISIS suggests revenge for strikes on Muslims]

Later in the day, a powerful blast in the capital's southern suburb near the Colombo Zoo killed two persons, Gunasekera said. When a police team entered a house in the Colombo north suburb of Orugodawatta to conduct a search, a suicide bomber blew himself up causing a concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them, killing three policemen in the eighth blast, police said.

Soon after the eighth blast, the government imposed curfew with immediate effect. The curfew will be in force indefinitely until further notice

The Indian diaspora in Sri Lanka has issued the following numbers for Indian citizens seeking help and seeking clarification:

  • +94777902082
  • +94772234176
  • +94777903082
  • +94112422788

Highlights of the ghastly attack in Sri Lanka:

Newest First Oldest First
11:25 PM, 21 Apr
Police discover a house allegedly used to shelter Todays attackers in Sarikkamulla, Panadura. Earlier in the evening Police also discovered the van used to transport the explosives at Ramakrishna Rd Wellawatte, reported Sri Lanka's Navamani Newspaper.
11:24 PM, 21 Apr
So far nine foreign nationals are reported to be missing. Among the 35 foreigners killed in the attacks, three were Indians, one was Portuguese, two Turkish, three British and two American.
11:23 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lanka Police spokesperson has said that 13 suspects were arrested in connection with the attacks. Ten of those detained have been handed over to the CID.
11:21 PM, 21 Apr
President Maithripala Sirisena will be appointing a special investigation committee within the next 24 hours to probe the terrorist attacks, News 1st reports.
11:19 PM, 21 Apr
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounces attacks in a statement and confirms that several American citizens among those killed. "These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism," the statement reads.
9:27 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lankan Airlines, which is the ground handling agent for all airlines, added that only passengers will be allowed inside the airport terminal. The airport is located to the north of the capital Colombo, on the outskirts of the city of Negombo, which was the site of at least one bombing today.
9:27 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lankan law enforcement have urged the public to stay indoors following the blasts. They asked that bystanders not gather at the explosion sites or outside the hospitals where the injured are being brought, according to government official news portal News.LK. It also reported that passengers departing from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) will need to be present at the airport at least four hours prior to their departure time, to account for extra security processes.
9:26 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lankan government on Sunday blocked social media platforms like the Facebook and Instagram to prevent the spread of false news reports after a series of blasts killed 207 people. The Presidential Secretariat said in a statement that the decision to block social media was taken in reaction to false news reports spreading on social media. The statement said the security forces were conducting comprehensive investigations into the explosions, and that the social media block would continue until investigations were concluded. "President @MaithripalaS appealed to the nation to act with utmost restraint and patience, and not to be misled by baseless rumors and false stories," President Sirisena's office tweeted. Meanwhile, Facebook has activated its Crisis Response tool for the blasts, CNN reported. The feature provides a repository for news about the incident, and allows people to mark themselves safe and search for friends who may have been affected.
8:28 PM, 21 Apr
"There is further update from Colombo. In all eight bomb blasts have taken place - one more in a guest house in Dehiwela near Colombo and another in a housing colony in Dematagoda in Colombo. I have just spoken to the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka H.E. Mr.Tilak Marapana. He confirmed that unfortunately, 207 persons have lost their lives and more than 450 are injured in the terror blasts. Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals. Their names are Lokashini, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. We are ascertaining further details," tweets EAM Sushma Swaraj.
8:12 PM, 21 Apr
A van suspected to have been used to transport bombs used in Colombo explosions taken into Police custody with the driver, at Ramakrishna Rd wellawatta, reports Navamani Newspaper.
8:11 PM, 21 Apr
State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene says the 7 suspects arrested.
8:07 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lanka Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene has urged media not to publicise the names of today's attackers as other extremist groups could exploit the situation. "Don't give extremists a voice. Don't help to make them martyrs," he says.
8:07 PM, 21 Apr
New Agency Reuters, citing Turkey's state media Anadolu, reports that two Turkish citizens were among those killed in the bombs blasts. According to Anadolu, the Turkish nationals were engineers who were working on a project in Sri Lanka.
8:07 PM, 21 Apr
News 1st reports that the death toll has now risen to 215. The number of foreign national deaths has also swelled to 35, according to the National Hospital spokesperson. The foreigners who died in the attacks are believed to be nationals of USA, Denmark, China, Japan, Pakistan, Morocco, India and Bangladesh
5:41 PM, 21 Apr
Reports say that an Indian national was killed in Sri Lanka blasts. Kerala Chief Minister's office has reportedly confirmed the death of a Kasargod resident.
5:11 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lankan police is said to have arrested seven individuals in connection with the serial explosions that hit three churches and four hotels.
4:59 PM, 21 Apr
Almost two hours after a 12-hour curfew is imposed across the island nation, the Railways Department suspends all night-mail trains. All state universities have also been closed until further notice.
4:59 PM, 21 Apr
President of the European Union commission Jean-Claude Juncker also tweets saying that he was horrified and sad when heard of the bombings and the number of lives that were lost. "I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country," he wrote.
4:59 PM, 21 Apr
Pope Francis further said, "I entrust to the Lord those who have tragically died and I pray for the wounded and for all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event."
4:59 PM, 21 Apr
Pope Francis also condemned the attacks and described it as "cruel violence". The Pope, in his address to tens of thousands of people who had gathered at Vatican City's St. Peter Square for the Easter Sunday celebrations, said, "I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence."
4:44 PM, 21 Apr
US President Donald Trump also tweeted saying, "Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more. We stand ready to help!"
4:43 PM, 21 Apr
According to the Sri Lankan news agency News 1st, three police officers were also among those killed in the eight explosion at Dematagoda hospital explosion.
4:29 PM, 21 Apr
Police said eighth Sri Lanka blast was suicide bomb, killed three policemen.
4:27 PM, 21 Apr
The United Nations in Sri Lanka condemned the horrific attacks and expressed its condolences to the victims and their families. "The UN in #lka urges all citizens, all leaders to stand united during these difficult times," the international body tweeted from its Twitter handle.
4:27 PM, 21 Apr
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a telephonic conversation with the Sri Lanka PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Mathripala Sirisena conveyed his condolences over the lives lost in the attacks. According to the press release that was sent out by the Prime Minister's Office, he is also said to have condemned the serial terrorist attacks and described it as "cold-blooded " and "pre-planned barbaric attack".
3:59 PM, 21 Apr
he security forces have launched a search operation at a house in close proximity to the blast site in Dematagoda following a tip-off that there are more explosives at the location.
3:59 PM, 21 Apr
The Sri Lankan government has imposed a temporary social media ban in view of the ghastly terror attacks that have claimed more 185 lives. As many as eight blasts rocked the island nation on Easter Sunday.
3:28 PM, 21 Apr
Police have arrested one suspect in Dehiwala. Seventh explosion, claiming two lives, took place in Dehiwala near the zoo.
3:28 PM, 21 Apr
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had condemned the terror attacks in Sri Lanka which claimed over 185 lives. "I’m saddened & disturbed by reports of multiple bomb blasts in #Colombo in which over 100 people have died & more than 300 injured. I strongly condemn this diabolical act of terrorism. My condolences to the families of the victims. I pray the injured make a speedy recovery (sic)," Gandhi said in a tweet.
3:27 PM, 21 Apr
Sri Lanka imposed 'temporary' social media ban after blasts.
READ MORE

President Maithripala Sirisena has appealed for calm. "I have been shocked by this totally unexpected incidents. The security forces haven been asked to take all action necessary," Sirisena said. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe termed the blasts as "cowardly attacks" and said his government was working to "contain the situation." "I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong... The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation," he tweeted.

Security has been intensified around the religious places across the capital. The government has temporarily blocked all social media platforms. "Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over," said Harsha de Silva, Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution.

The Indian High Commission in Colombo said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka.

"We are closely monitoring the situation. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789," the High Commission tweeted. "In addition to the numbers given, Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may also call the following numbers +94777902082 +94772234176," it said.

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