Sri Lanka declares emergency, Islamist group identified
April 23, 2019
The number of people who have died in the serial bomb blasts in Sri Lanka on Sunday has risen to 290, the injured are over 500. The numbers are likely to rise as many people are critically wounded in hospital. The country is on edge as police recovered detonators from bus stops in Colombo and a vehicle outside a church blew up just minutes after it was surrounded by policemen.
A series of blasts took place on Easter Sunday with suicide bombers targeting churches and luxury hotels in and around the capital Colombo while people were busy celebrating. Another blast took place on Monday while the police were trying to defuse explosives in a vehicle used by the attackers.
A local Sri Lankan jihadist group named National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) has been identified as responsible and the Sri Lankan government believes the group may have had international support. All the suicide bombers involved are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.
As per reports, Sri Lankan police has arrested 24 people who are suspected to be linked to the blasts. One of the suicide bomber of the Shangri-La hotel has been identified as Insan Seelavan, a factory owner.
The president of the country Maithripala Sirisena has declared a state of national emergency that provides police and military special powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
At least 39 foreigners, including citizens from India, Britain, US, Turkey, China and some other countries lost their lives. People who died in the bombings are being identified.
Reports also claim that intelligence reports had warned of such an attack a few days ago and Sri Lanka's Chief of Police Pujith Jayasundara also knew about the danger but no action was taken. Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that he was not informed about the warning.
The attacks have shocked the world and various leaders have offered their support to Sri Lanka.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom tweeted,” The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.”
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, ”We are deeply saddened by the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We firmly condemn these odious acts. We stand by the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to the loved ones of the victims on this Easter Sunday.”
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