Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency from midnight Monday, after Easter Sunday's multiple bomb blasts in the country raised the death toll to 290, with nearly 500 injured. A curfew would be re-imposed at 8 p.m. Monday until 4 a.m. Tuesday. Police have arrested 24 people in connection with the blasts.
The Sri Lankan government believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks. Meanwhile, 87 bomb detonators were found at a Colombo bus station and a ninth bomb was defused near Colombo airport.
Here are the live updates for today:
Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath denies links with Sri Lanka’s National Thowheed Jamath
After media reports suggested that the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath had links to the Islamist group that Sri Lankan authorities said was responsible for the April 21 attacks, its spokesperson Abdul Rahman has issued a denial. Mr. Rahman also denied that the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), another group in Sri Lanka, was the same as the National Thowheed Jamath, which is being blamed for the bombings. “Just because the two organisations have ‘Thowheed’ in their names, it doesn’t mean that they are linked,” he said.
Indian death toll increases to eight
At least eight Indians are among the dead following the string of devastating suicide blasts, officials said on Monday.
“Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of one more individual - H Shivakumar - in the blasts yesterday, taking the total number of Indian deaths in the tragedy to 8 till now,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo tweeted.
Earlier in the day, the mission confirmed the deaths of four Indians - Vemurai Tulsiram, S.R. Nagaraj, K.G. Hanumantharayappa and M. Rangappa.
On Sunday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj identified three Indian nationals - Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh - as the victims of the blasts.
“Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals,” she tweeted Sunday.
Three cops 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 Colombo, have been posthumously promoted.
One Sub Inspector and two constables were killed during a raid at a house in the Colombo north suburb of Orugodawatta at Dematagoda on Sunday. When they entered the house, a suicide bomber blew himself, killing all of them.
“They have been posthumously promoted,” Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said.
The Sub-Police Inspector was posthumously promoted as an Inspector while the two constables have been promoted to the ranks of Sergeants, he said.
SL government announces compensation for victims, injured
The Sri Lankan government on Monday announced that it will compensate the victims of the multiple bomb blasts, according to a media report.
Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said that each victim in the attacks will be paid 1 million Sri Lankan rupees (USD 5,722), while about 100,000 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).
Shangri-La hotel announces helpline
Colombo's Shangri-La hotel remains secured by the military and the police, and will be closed until further notice, the hotel stated in a release on Monday.
The hotel has announced a dedicated helpline - +603 2025 4619 - for the affected guests and their loved ones.
"We will continue to provide alternative accommodation for our affected guests. Our team has been assisting with guest requests for transportation and flight arrangements. We also have staff stationed at the airport and at the hospitals to render assistance where needed. We are working closely with relevant embassy officials to support their respective citizens," the release stated.
Van near church explodes, no casualties
A van parked near a church that was bombed on Easter Sunday has exploded, but no injuries have been reported.
87 bomb detonators found at Colombo bus station
Police on Monday said they had found 87 bomb detonators at a Colombo bus station, a day after a string of attacks on churches and hotels that killed nearly 300 people.
A statement said police found the detonators at the Bastian Mawatha Private bus stand, 12 of them scattered on the ground and another 75 in a garbage dump nearby.
Sri Lanka declares state of emergency
Sri Lankan authorities have ordered a state of emergency to be introduced from midnight on Monday following the deadly Easter attacks, the president's office said.
The special measures are being brought in "to allow the police and the three forces to ensure public security," the statement said, referring to the army, navy and air force.
Sri Lanka to reimpose night curfew after multiple blasts
Sri Lanka on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew following the multiple suicide attacks on Sunday that killed 290 people and wounded 500 others. The decision to reimpose curfew comes hours after authorities lifted a previous curfew on Monday morning.
“The police curfew which was lifted at 6 this morning is to be re-imposed at 8 pm Monday until 4 am Tuesday,” the Government Information Department said.
A string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 290 people, including six Indians, and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the civil war with the LTTE.
Following Sunday’s attack, the island nation had imposed a mid time curfew with immediate effect.
Govt. believes National Thowheeth Jama'ath responsible for blasts
The Sri Lankan government believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks that killed nearly 300 people, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said on Monday.
Mr. Senaratne, who is also a Cabinet Minister, added that the government was investigating whether the group had "international support".
"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."
Documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka's police chief issued a warning on April 11, saying that a "foreign intelligence agency" had reported NTJ was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.
Not much is known about the NTJ, a radical Muslim group that his been linked to the vandalising of Buddhist statues.
A police source told AFP that all 24 people in custody in connection with the attacks belong to an "extremist" group, but did not specify further.
President appoints committee to probe Easter Sunday attacks
President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday appointed a three-member committee headed by an apex court judge to probe the country’s deadliest terror attack and submit a report within two weeks, according to media reports.
Supreme Court judge Vijith Malalgoda, former IGP N K Ilangakoon and Former Law & Order Ministry Secretary Padamasiri Jayamanne have been appointed as members of the committee, SundayTimes reported. The committee has been instructed to submit the probe report on the explosion within two weeks to the President, the report said.
Sirisena, who was on a private visit to India and Singapore, returned to Colombo on Monday.
US, Canada issue travel advisories
The US and Canada have issued travel advisories to their citizens seeking to visit Sri Lanka, citing threats of terrorism.
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 decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad,” the Canadian advisory said.
Two from Karnataka among those killed
Two persons from Karnataka, K.G. Hanumanthrayappa and M. Ranganna, are among those confirmed to have died in the serial bomb blasts in Colombo on Sunday.
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj had confirmed the deaths of the two persons, both of whom are Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) party workers.
Six attacks, seven suicide bombers
A Sri Lankan government forensic crime analyst has said that the six near-simultaneous attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers.
The government analyst Ariyananda Welianga said an analysis of the attackers’ body parts collected from the scenes showed that the attacks were suicide bombings.
Mr. Welianga said two people were involved in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel. One bomber each attacked the Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels and St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s church in the city of Negombo and Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa.
Two bombings hours later at a guesthouse and near an overpass on the outskirts of Colombo are still under investigation. Suspects detonated explosives at a safe house near the overpass blast, killing three officers.
Second Chinese citizen confirmed killed
A second Chinese citizen has been confirmed killed in the bombings.
Xinhua news agency cited the Chinese Embassy in Colombo as confirming the fatality. The report said the number of injuries among Chinese was still being confirmed. The United States, Britain, India and other countries have also confirmed their citizens were among the 290 dead.
China has extensive business ties with Sri Lanka and is sending growing numbers of business people, tourists and workers to the island.
Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have sent condolences and said they firmly support the Sri Lankan government’s effort to maintain security and stability, according to Xinhua.
Six Indians killed
At least six Indians have been killed in a string of eight powerful blasts, said the police. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has identified two more individuals killed in the blasts.
“We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday, K G Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa,” Swaraj retweeted Indian High Commission in Colombo’s tweet.
On Sunday, she in a series of tweets, identified the three Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.“Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals,” she said in a tweet.
UN General Secretary expresses his condolences
The United Nations secretary-general has expressed condolences over the Sri Lankan bombings.
The statement issued by spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was outraged by the terrorist attacks on churches and hotels on a “sacred day for Christians around the world” and hoped the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.
The official twitter handle of the High Commission of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, has confirmed the death of two Indian citizens in the bomb blasts. They are:
- K G Hanumantharayappa
- M Rangappa
Curfew lifted in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan authorities have lifted a curfew that was in place overnight, reports AP .
The streets in the capital, Colombo, were largely deserted Monday morning, with most shops closed and a heavy deployment of soldiers and police. Stunned clergy and onlookers gathered at St. Anthony’s Shrine, looking past the soldiers to the damaged church that was targeted in one of the blasts.
Soldiers armed with automatic weapons stood guard outside major hotels and the World Trade Centre in the business district, where the four hotels were targeted on Easter Sunday, according to a Reuters witness.
Scores of people who were stranded overnight at the main airport began making their way home as restrictions were lifted.
The government also blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp, making information hard to come by.
Death toll rises to 290, about 500 wounded
The death toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also wounded, police said on Monday.
The death 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.
A government source said President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.
Police arrest 13 in connection with blasts
Sri Lankan police have arrested 13 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said Monday.
Authorities have not made public details on those held after Sunday’s attacks. But a police source told AFP the 13 were detained at two locations in and around Colombo.
Possible intel failures to be examined
Police in Sri Lanka say the investigation into the Easter Sunday bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday the death toll had risen overnight but the figure wasn’t immediately released.
Two government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday that the Criminal Investigation Department investigating the blasts will look into the reports.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena previously described the blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.
Ninth bomb defused near Colombo airport: police
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 deadly attacks on churchs and hotels.
Airforce spokesperson Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said the IED was believed to be locally manufactured.