Sri Lankan Govt Says National Thowheeth Jama’ath Behind Deadly Bomb Blasts Which Claimed 290 Lives
April 22nd, 2019 / 3:58 PM
Image Credit: Indian Express
In the early hours of 21st April, on what seemed to be a peaceful Easter Sunday (21 April, 2019) morning, the first bomb went off at St.Anthony’s Church in Colombo in what followed to be a devastating series of eight bomb blasts that terrorized the Country of Sri Lanka.
The bombings began at around 8:45 am targeting Roman Catholic churches – St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, and Zion Church in Batticaloa, along with three 5 star hotels in Colombo – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand, and the Kingsbury. The explosions killed worshipers, hotel guests and left behind bloodstained roofs, pews and broken windows. While talking to CNN, Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo, said, “You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside of the church.” Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo also reported a blast later in the day.
The final blast exploded in a house in Mahawila Gardens in Dematagoda, in which three police officers were killed. The crime division officials were questioning the people in the house during a raid in connection with the attacks when two explosions occurred killing one sub-inspector and two constables of police.
A nation-wide curfew was in effect until Monday morning following the reports of the devastating blasts. According to Al Jazeera, these were the worst attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. The attacks also marked a disastrous escalation of violence against the Christian minority in the country. The secretary of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense, Hemasiri Fernando said that its been 10 years since they last saw this kind of horrific attack.
As per reports, the blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter are believed to be the work of 7 suicide bombers, however, no terror outfit yet has claimed responsibility for the blasts. The government has blamed National Thowheeth Jama’ath according to a New York Times report.
Police Arrests 24 Suspects
Although no terror outfit has claimed responsibility for these deadly attacks in Sri Lanka, 24 people have been arrested, and the Defense Minister of Sri Lanka, Ruwan Wijewardene said that the culprits were religious extremists. In a news conference on Monday, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne is reported to have said that all the suicide bombers were of Sri Lankan origin but the authorities suspect foreign ties.
More than 290 people have been killed and hundreds are injured in the deadly explosions in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Mostly all the victims of the attacks were Sri Lankans, however, officials have said that the dead also included at least 35 foreigners, as reported by Al Jazeera. Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka has said that the victims included three Indians, two Turkish nationals, three British Nationals, one Portuguese national amongst others.
Social Media Blocked
After the gruesome attacks in Sri Lanka, the country has placed a nationwide block on social media sites. The government has cited ‘false news reports were circulating online’ as the reason behind the move. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Viber are among the sites that are blocked by the government. However, Twitter appears to be accessible as some government ministers have been tweeting out information.
Leaders across the world have expressed shock and condemnation over the gruesome attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday which killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds of others.
The Eiffel Tower went dark at the midnight as a tribute to those affected by the blasts in Sri Lanka.
People all over the world also expressed sorrow and condemned the attacks.
Improvised Pipe Bomb Near Colombo Airport
An improvised pipe bomb was discovered near Colombo airport and was defused by Sri Lanka Air Force in a controlled explosion, reports NDTV. According to a police source, it was a homemade pipe bomb with explosives put into a pipe. “It was a crude six-foot pipe bomb which was found by the roadside. We have removed it and safely defused it at an air force location,” an Air Force spokesman said.
Sri Lanka Failed To Take Precautions Despite Warnings
As per a report by The New York Times, security officials were alerted by a top police official 10 days ago about a threat to churches from a radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath. However, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he had not been informed about it.
India also gave special intelligence inputs to Sri Lanka about a possible attack. However, the Sri Lankan government did not take ‘adequate precautions’ to prevent the decade’s worst terror attack, reports News18.
Written by : Jasmine Kaur (Intern)
Edited by : Shraddha Goled