Colombo: Eight horrific bomb blasts at churches and hotels, teeming with foreign tourists rocked Sri Lanka and claimed the lives of 215 people. The number of injured in the explosion has reached 500 and has received strong condemnation from the international community. Also, the Indian Foreign Minister informed that the dead include 3 Indian citizens. No organisation has accepted the responsibility for the attacks as yet. However, the international intelligence agencies had warned Sri Lanka against a credible threat of terror attacks on churches, hotels and the Indian Embassy almost ten days ago.
At about 8.45 am on Sunday, deadly bomb blasts rocked the Easter mass at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and Zion Church in Batticaloa. Meanwhile, powerful blasts shook the five-star hotels of Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury and the Tropical Inn. A police spokesperson informed that 215 people were killed while 500 were injured in the blasts. As per the preliminary reports, 35 foreign nationals were among the people killed in the bombings. Nevertheless, their identities have not been ascertained.
The wave of blasts in Sri Lanka left the island reeling and under utter chaos. A curfew was imposed immediately, and the security agencies initiated efforts to bring the situation under control. Also, a national security council meeting convened of the ministers of the cabinet in Sri Lanka.
After the meeting, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed to the citizens for peace and unity and asked them not to worsen the situation by believing in rumours. Furthermore, President Sirisena urged also for peace and unity to the people of Sri Lanka.
All the major countries of the world have condemned the attacks. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed heartfelt condolences and said that India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka, in these difficult times. In his message, Prime Minister Modi clearly stated that ‘there is no place for such barbarism in our region.’ Additionally, he had a telephonic discussion with the Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister as also assured all possible assistance in the matter.
As of now, no organisation has accepted the responsibility for the attacks. Previously, the Tamil terrorist organisation, LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), had carried out similar suicide attacks. Albeit, the name of the extremist organisation, the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) is coming forth in connection with the Sunday blasts. International intelligence agencies had warned Sri Lanka of the threat of terror attacks.
The intelligence agencies had provided inputs on the main churches and the Indian Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka being the terrorist targets. Last year, incidents of the NJT carrying out vandalism of idols was reported. Therefore, the NTJ is suspected to be linked with the serial blasts possibly.
Suicide bombers reportedly carried out some of the blasts while some people claimed to have seen the assailants. Investigations have been initiated into the matter, and seven people have already been detained.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India was closely following the developments in Sri Lanka. Also, Swaraj said that the ministry was constantly in contact with the embassy in Colombo adding that the helpline numbers had been declared. Considering the threat to the Indian embassy in Colombo, security has been tightened in the region.