Sri Lanka - Bombings 207 people & 400+ wounded

Eagle1

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Saudi Arabia Condemns, Denounces Series of Terrorist Bombings in Sri Lanka

Sunday, 21 April, 2019 - 11:30


Relatives of a victim of the explosion at St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church react at the police mortuary in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019.

Asharq Al-Awsat

An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation and denunciation of the series of terrorist bombings in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, which resulted in killing and injuring dozens of innocent people.

The source expressed condolences to the families of the victims, the government and the people of Sri Lanka, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The source further stressed the need for concerted international efforts to combat terrorism which threatens security and stability all over the world without exception.

Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and four hotels killed 207 people and wounded more than 400 on Sunday, hospital and police officials said.

The bloody attack drove condemnations from world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and other officials.

"Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels," Trump tweeted.

Erdogan also condemned the deadly incident and described the terror attacks as "an assualt on all humanity."

“Deep sorrow following the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We firmly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to all victims’ relatives on this Easter Day,” said Macron in a tweet.

For his part, Pope Francis expressed his sadness addressing tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square.

"I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka."

 

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RIP to the dead and speedy recovery to the injured. One must wonder who is behind the clash of civilization in our world? This can not be the work of individuals. Must there be some kind of intel op. a month ago in New Zealand and now in Sri lanka.
 

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Sri Lanka minister says Easter bombings retaliation for Christchurch mosque attacks, as IS claims responsibility

By 9News Staff
Apr 23, 2019

A Sri Lankan official says the devastating Easter bombings were retaliation for recent deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand, as Islamic State claimed responsibility for the coordinated blasts that killed 321 people.

Islamic State's claim, issued on its AMAQ news agency, came shortly after Sri Lanka said two domestic Islamist groups, with suspected links to foreign militants, were believed to have been behind the attacks at three churches and four hotels, which wounded about 500 people.
Islamic State gave no evidence for its claim. The government has said at least seven suicide bombers were involved.

"The initial investigation has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack," junior defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.

He did not elaborate on why authorities believed there was a link to the killing of 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers on March 15. A lone gunman carried out those attacks.

Wijewardene said two Sri Lankan Islamist groups - the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim - were responsible for the blasts early on Sunday during Easter services and as high-end hotels served breakfast.

US intelligence sources said the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of the Islamic State militant group.

Mourners carry the coffins with the remains of Berington Joseph and Burlington Bevon, as mass funerals take place for those killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AAP)

Its leader, alternately known as Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary speeches online.

"It was basically a hate campaign against all non-Muslims," said Hilmy Ahamed, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka's vice president.

"Basically, he was saying non-Muslims have to be eliminated."

Zahran's name was on one intelligence warning shared among Sri Lankan security forces, who apparently even quietly took their growing concerns to international experts as well.

"We should take immediate steps to ban any such organisation that have links to extremist elements," Wijewardene told parliament.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament investigators were looking into foreign links.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sri Lankan government and military sources said a Syrian had been detained among 40 people being questioned over the bombs.

Tuesday was declared a national day of mourning and the funerals of some of the victims were held, as pressure mounted on the government over why effective action had not been taken in response to a warning this month about a possible attack.

Most of the dead and wounded were Sri Lankans, although government officials said 38 foreigners were killed, including Australian mother Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria.

Others included British, US, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

The bombs brought a shattering end to a relative calm that had existed in the Buddhist-majority Indian Ocean island since a bitter civil war against mostly Hindu, ethnic Tamil separatists ended 10 years ago, and raised fears of a return to sectarian violence.

Sri Lanka's 22 million people include minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island's conflict and communal tensions.

The government imposed emergency rule at midnight on Monday, giving police extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.

An overnight curfew has also been imposed since Sunday.

US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on Monday to pledge US support in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The Washington Post quoted an official as saying Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were being sent to Sri Lanka to help with the investigation.
The FBI had offered expertise to test evidence and analysts were scouring databases for information, the Post said. Counter-terrorism officials from Britain are also due on Tuesday.

The attacks have also underlined concern over fractures in Sri Lanka's government, and whether the discord prevented action that might have stopped them.

The government received a tip-off from India this month about a possible attack on churches by the National Thawheed Jama'ut.

It was not immediately clear what action, if any, was taken in response. A government minister said on Monday that Wickremesinghe had not been informed about the warning and had been shut out of top security meetings because of a feud with President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe last year only to be forced to reinstate him under pressure from the Supreme Court. Their relationship is reported to be fraught.

With AAP, Associated Press

 

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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka


Officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims. (AFP)

Updated 23 April 2019
Mohammed Rasooldeen


  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests
COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.

 

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Saudia boss issues tribute to cabin crew killed in Sri Lanka bomb attacks


Cabin manager, Ahmed Zain Jaafari, steward Hani Maged Othman, were in one of the hotels when one of the attackers detonated his device on Sunday. (AP)



April 23, 2019
  • The airline announced on Monday that the two cabin crew had been killed in the attacks
  • The death toll in Sri Lanka rose to 321 on Tuesday and includes many nationalities
DUBAI: The director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines has paid tribute to the two cabin crew who were killed in Sunday’s terror attacks in Sri Lanka.
Cabin manager, Ahmed Zain Jaafari, steward Hani Maged Othman, were in one of the hotels when one of the attackers detonated his device on Sunday - a third crew member was slightly injured.

The two were initially unaccounted for, but on Monday night the airline released a statement confirming they had died.

In a statement issued to the airline’s staff and on the Twitter account on Tuesday, director general Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser praised the two for their service to the company and country.

“Myself, the entire management team and all of the team members of Saudi Arabia Airlines are with very heavy hearts, filled with deep sorrow as the airline confirms that two of its cabin crew members have passed away in the explosions which took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka,” Al-Jasser said in the statement.

“Each have a long tenure supporting the airline. These two gentlemen whole-heartedly served their country and SAUDIA with great pride and loyalty. All of us mourn for Ahmed and Hani, who are our brothers for eternity and our hearts are filled with pain for the indescribable loss that their families are facing.”

pic.twitter.com/Afb8HJB08C
— مركز الاتصال (@svmedia_center) April 23, 2019
 

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Any details who was behind this heinous crime?
Wijewardene said two Sri Lankan Islamist groups - the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim - were responsible for the blasts

US intelligence sources said the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of the Islamic State militant group.

 

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Wijewardene said two Sri Lankan Islamist groups - the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim - were responsible for the blasts

US intelligence sources said the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of the Islamic State militant group.

How did the US came to that conclusion? Were there any US intl on the ground?
 

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APRIL 25, 2019
Officials lower death toll in Sri Lanka Easter attacks to 253
By Clyde Hughes and Daniel Uria


An armed security guard patrols the area during victims' funerals Tuesday. Photo by Perera Sameera/UPI | License Photo


April 25 (UPI) -- Authorities lowered the death toll from the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka by more than 100 people on Thursday.
Sri Lanka's director general for health services issued the correction on Thursday, lowering the total from 359 to 253 people, The Guardian reported.

"The death toll from the Easter Sunday attacks is at least 253, our first estimates were 290 and it will be reduced to 253," the director general said.
The official added that the discrepancy was caused by difficulty identifying victims, as the bombings took place in closely confined spaces and severely dismembered some bodies.

As a result of the change, the attack is no longer the deadliest ever claimed by the Islamic State.

Another explosion went off near Sri Lanka's capital Thursday, which led to a lockdown of the country's central bank as the nation recovers from the string of deadly suicide attacks.

Police said the explosion occurred in Pugoda, 25 miles east of Colombo, and unnerved residents. Authorities closed the entry road to Colombo's main airport after police spotted a suspicious vehicle near a car park. Police blocked the street outside the bank near Colombo's World Trade Center.

John Keells Holdings, the parent company of Cinnamon Grand Hotel, warned employees about continuing threats after the hotel was damaged Sunday by a suicide bomber. Colombo businesses advised employees to stay inside for part of the day due to the scare.

Police said they weren't immediately sure what caused Thursday's blast, which occurred near a courthouse.
"There was an explosion behind the court," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. "We are investigating."

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said this week several suspects involved in Sunday's attacks remain at large and warned of possible follow-up strikes.

Gunasekara said 58 people have so far been detained in connection with the bombings. The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility.


Officials lower death toll in Sri Lanka Easter attacks to 253
 

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APRIL 24, 2019
Officials: Sri Lankan bombing suspects 'well educated,' had international ties
By Daniel Uria


The suspects in Sunday's bombings included a husband and wife, two brothers from a wealthy family, a man with a law degree, and another man who studied abroad before settling in Sri Lanka. Photo by Perera Sameera/UPI | License Photo


April 24 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan officials revealed Wednesday that the suspects behind the deadly Easter Sunday suicide bombings were "well-educated" with "middle-class" backgrounds and international ties.

The group included a husband and wife, two brothers from a wealthy family, a man with a law degree, and another man who studied abroad before settling in Sri Lanka.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said nine suspects carried out the bombings, not seven as officials said previously. Among them was the wife of another bomber who blew herself up as well as her two children as police approached their apartments in the aftermath of the initial attacks.

"This group of suicide bombers, most of them are well-educated and come from middle or upper-middle class, so they are financially quite independent and their families are quite financially stable," Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said.

He added one of the alleged suicide bombers studied in Britain and Australia before settling in his native Sri Lanka.

British counter-terrorism investigators told The Guardian that they were unaware Sri Lanka was going to publicly announce one of the bombers was linked to Britain.

The death toll from the attacks rose to 359 people on Wednesday with 500 others injured.

Gunasekara said 58 people have been detained in connection to the bombings, including 18 suspects arrested overnight.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that several suspects armed with explosives had not yet been found.

Sri Lankan President Maithrpala Sirisena pledged to replace top defense and intelligence officials after local officials said they received prior warnings about the attacks, but the information didn't reach the highest levels of the government.

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz said it was "incredibly tragic" that the intelligence warnings about the plans appeared to have been missed.
"Clearly there was some failure in the system," Teplitz said.

Officials: Sri Lankan bombing suspects 'well educated,' had international ties
 

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Sri Lanka Easter blasts: Suspected mastermind Zahran Hashim spent time in south India, says top military source
by Meera Srinivasan & Suhasini Haidar
COLOMBO/new delhi
April 27, 2019

A soldier walks in front of St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on April 26, 2019. Authorities on April 25 lowered the death toll in a spate of Easter bombings by more than 100 to 253, admitting some of the badly mutilated bodies had been erroneously double-counted.

A soldier walks in front of St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on April 26, 2019. Authorities on April 25 lowered the death toll in a spate of Easter bombings by more than 100 to 253, admitting some of the badly mutilated bodies had been erroneously double-counted. | Photo Credit: AFP


Investigators identified Zahran Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts.
Zahran Hashim, believed to have masterminded the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, spent “substantial” time in “south India,” a top Sri Lankan military source said on Friday.

Investigators identified Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts on Sunday. Over 250 people, including 45 children and 40 foreign nationals, were killed in the deadly explosions. Two days later, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers. The man seen standing at the centre is believed to be Hashim. The other jihadists had covered their faces with a scarf.

Sri Lankan investigators, however, have identified nine suicide bombers, including a woman. “We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu,” the senior official said, on condition of anonymity.
https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-easter-blasts-anti-muslim-riots-a-possible-trigger/article26960071.ece
Indian officials would not comment that Hashim travelled to India but pointed to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin. More than 100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page are being investigated, said an official, who asked not to be named. The first hints of Hashim’s doctrinal videos, to likely radicalise youth, emerged when Indian authorities interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim. The men were IS sympathisers and arrested in September 2018 in Coimbatore, on suspicion that they were plotting the assassination of certain political and religious leaders in India, the official said.

‘Hashim, a Shangri-La bomber’
Sri Lankan authorities, who have so far not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, on Friday confirmed Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the explosions at hotel Shangri-La, on Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road. He led the radical Islamist group in Kattankudy, in Batticaloa district of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, and was known for espousing extremist religious ideas, often to the discomfort of many within the community.

An image grab taken from a press release issued on April 23, 2019 by the Islamic State group’s propaganda agency Amaq, allegedly shows eight men it said carried out a string of deadly suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The man in the centre is believed to be Zahran Hashim, who was identified by the Sri Lankan police as the leader of the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) group, which Colombo has blamed for the attacks.

An image grab taken from a press release issued on April 23, 2019 by the Islamic State group’s propaganda agency Amaq, allegedly shows eight men it said carried out a string of deadly suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The man in the centre is believed to be Zahran Hashim, who was identified by the Sri Lankan police as the leader of the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) group, which Colombo has blamed for the attacks. | Photo Credit: AFP

Earlier this week, locals told The Hindu that Zahran had left the town two years ago after a fierce disagreement with the Moulavi (religious scholar) on the practice of Islam. He was absconding since then, community leaders said.

Heightened searches
Following Sunday’s brutal attacks, inarguably the biggest atrocity the island has seen in its post-civil war decade, police and the armed forces have arrested at least 75 persons for their alleged role in the bombings. A list of 139 youth has been drawn up and security forces are desperate to eliminate any persistent threat, official sources said. Police on Thursday released photographs of a few suspects -- including one wrong photograph for which they later regretted -- and sought the help of the public to nab them.

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday vowed to “meet the challenge and defeat terrorism” in the country. Investigations into war-time rights abuse allegations had weakened the country’s security apparatus and made it vulnerable to terror attacks, he said, apparently referring to military officials facing trial for alleged abduction and murder.

Speaking to local editors and Colombo-based foreign journalists, Mr. Sirisena said a major search operation, including a door-to-door check, was underway. Acknowledging a “serious lapse” in intelligence sharing – despite “a friendly country” providing a “highly descriptive warning” on April 4. He squarely blamed the Defence Secretary and the Inspector General of Police for it. Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday, although he told Reuters “there had been no failure on his part”.

President Sirisena further said that the planned attack could have been a response to his campaign against illicit drugs. “There is a nexus between international terrorism and international drug trade,” he said.


 

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All Sri Lanka Catholic church services suspended until security improves
Drones banned, army to help police search for suspects

Published: April 25, 2019

Sri Lanka mass burial

A priest officiates at a mass burial near St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.Image Credit: Adam Dean/The New York Times

COLOMBO: All of Sri Lanka's Catholic churches have been ordered to stay closed and suspend services until security improves after deadly Easter bombings, a senior priest told AFP Thursday.

"On the advice of the security forces we are keeping all churches closed," the priest said. "There will be no public mass said until further notice."

Search continues for bombing suspects
Sri Lanka deployed thousands of troops overnight to help police search for suspects in Easter suicide bomb attacks.
The government has acknowledged "major" lapses over its failure to prevent the horrific attacks despite receiving specific intelligence warnings.

Recriminations have flown since suicide bombers blew themselves up in luxury hotels and churches packed with Easter worshippers on Sunday.
The president has asked the police chief and top defence ministry bureaucrat to step down, though neither has done so yet.
Overnight, security forces using newly granted powers under the country's state of emergency arrested 16 more suspects in connection with the attacks.

Police have so far arrested 75 people but tensions remain high with several suspects unaccounted for.
Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said the army had increased its deployment by 1,300 to 6,300 overnight, with the navy and airforce also deploying 2,000 more personnel.

Authorities also announced a ban on drone flights and suspended licences issued to commercial operators with immediate effect.

Drones banned
Sri Lanka banned drones and unmanned aircraft and set off more controlled detonations of suspicious items Thursday four days after suicide bombing attacks.

Sri Lanka's civil aviation authority said that it was taking the aircraft measure "in view of the existing security situation in the country."
Hobby drones have been used by militants in the past to carry explosives. Iraqi forces found them difficult to shoot down while driving out the Islamic State group, whose members loaded drones with grenades or simple explosives to target government forces. And Yemen's Houthi rebels has used drones, most recently to target a military parade in January, killing troops.

Sri Lankan police continued their search for explosives, detonating a suspicious item in a garbage dump in Pugoda, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Colombo.

The attacks Easter Sunday mainly at churches and hotels killed at least 359 people and wounded 500 more, the government said Wednesday. Most were Sri Lankan but the Foreign Ministry has confirmed 36 foreigners died. The remains of 13 have been repatriated. Fourteen foreigners are unaccounted for, and 12 were still being treated for injuries in Colombo hospitals.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/all-sri-lanka-catholic-church-services-suspended-until-security-improves-1.1556173077571
 

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