Sri Lankan soldiers blast day 20190423
Sri Lankan soldiers stand guard near a car explosion after the police tried to defuse a bomb near St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka Image Credit: AFP


  • Three churches located in Kochichikade in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa targeted during Easter services
  • Three five star hotels targeted in Colombo - Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury
  • Death toll rises to 359, says police spokesperson
  • Over 500 injured, according to Colombo hospital

On Easter Sunday, three churches and three five star hotels were targeted in as many as eight blasts in Sri Lanka. Death toll in the worst ever terror attack in a decade leaves 321 dead and about 500 wounded. Follow our updates here:

Sri Lanka President asks for resignations of top security officials

Sri Lanka's president has asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and national police chief, a dramatic internal shake-up after security forces shrugged off intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before Easter bombings that killed over 350 people, the president's office said Wednesday.

It wasn't immediately clear who would be replacing them, but President Maithripala Sirisena said during a televised speech Tuesday that he planned to change the head of the defense forces within 24 hours.

7.51am, Wednesday

Toll in Sri Lanka bombings rises to 359

The toll in a series of suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday targeting hotels and churches in Sri Lanka has risen to 359, police said Wednesday.

The additional deaths were the result of the wounded dying of their injuries. At least 500 people were injured in the attacks.

7.15am, Wednesday

18 more detained in hunt for terrorists

Sri Lankan security forces arrested 18 suspects linked to the deadly Easter bombings in overnight raids, police said Wednesday.

Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the suspects were held in a search operation carried out by police and security forces using emergency powers introduced since Sunday's attacks which left more than 359 dead.

"Based on information, we raided three locations and arrested 17 suspects," Gunasekera said. "Another suspect was arrested at a fourth location."

Police say they have so far taken 58 people into detention since Sunday.

Gunasekera said the raids were part of security operations to track down any individuals linked to suicide bombing strike against three churches and three hotels which the Daesh group has claimed.

The Sri Lankan government has blamed a local Islamist group, the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), for the attacks which left 359 dead and 500 injured.

Sri Lanka president to change defence heads after attacks

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday said he expects to change the heads of the country's defence forces within a day following their failure to prevent suicide bombs that killed over 300 people, despite the fact they had prior information about the attacks.

"I will completely restructure the police and security forces in the coming weeks. I expect to change the heads of defence establishments within next 24 hours," Sirisena said a televised address to the nation.

"The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me. Appropriate actions would have been taken. I have decided to take stern action against these officials."

Sri Lankan schools to remain shut till April 29

All government schools across Sri Lanka will remain closed until April 29 in view of the security situation, Education Minister Akila V. Kariyawasam announced on Tuesday.

The minister said all universities would also remain closed until further notice.

The decisions follow the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that have killed 321 people and wounded more than 500.

Sri Lanka warned of threat hours before suicide attacks - sources

Sri Lankan intelligence officials were tipped off about an imminent attack by Islamist militants hours before a series of suicide bombings killed more than 300 people on Easter Sunday, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Three churches and four hotels were hit by suicide bombers on Sunday morning, killing 321 people and wounding 500, sending shockwaves through an island state that has been relatively peaceful since a civil war ended a decade ago.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks on Tuesday, without providing evidence of its involvement.

Indian intelligence officers contacted their Sri Lankan counterparts two hours before the first attack to warn of a specific threat on churches, one Sri Lankan defence source and an Indian government source said.

Another Sri Lankan defence source said a warning came "hours before" the first strike.

One of the Sri Lankan sources said a warning was also sent by the Indians on Saturday night. The Indian government source said similar messages had been given to Sri Lankan intelligence agents on April 4 and April 20.

Sri Lanka's presidency and the Indian foreign ministry both did not respond to requests for comment.

3.05pm, Tuesday

Daesh claims Sri Lanka attacks 

Daesh on Tuesday claimed a series of bombings that killed more than 320 people in Sri Lanka.

"Those that carried out the attack that targeted members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday are [Daesh] fighters," said a statement released by Daesh propaganda agency Amaq.

2.41pm Tuesday

Two brothers were Sri Lanka hotel suicide bombers: sources

Brothers carried out two of the hotel suicide blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, part of a wave of bombings that killed more than 320 people, police sources told AFP on Tuesday.

The brothers, sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader, blew themselves up as guests queued for breakfast at the Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the capital, the source said.

The sources also revealed that a fourth hotel was targeted in the string of bombings, but the attack failed.

The brothers, whose names have not been revealed, were in their late twenties and operated their own "family cell", an investigation officer said.

But it was not clear what ties they had to the other bombers involved in the devastating attacks against three high-end hotels and three churches.

The pair were key members of the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) which the government has blamed for the attacks, the official added.

Attack at fourth hotel failed

Official sources told AFP an attack had been planned at a fourth hotel.

A bomber had checked into the hotel a day before the attack and given his address.

He was at the site on Sunday, but did not detonate his explosives. It was not clear if they failed or he decided against detonating them for some reason.

But after the Shangri-la blast, staff at the unnamed hotel became suspicious and the man was tracked to a lodging near the capital.

He blew himself up there when confronted by police, killing two bystanders

At least 45 children killed in Sri Lanka attacks: UN

At least 45 children were among the more than 320 people killed in suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, the United Nations said Tuesday.

"The total now is 45 children who died," UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva.

He added that the toll from the Sunday attacks could rise as many other minors "are wounded and are now fighting for their lives in intensive care units across the country."

UNICEF has confirmed that 27 children were killed and another 10 injured in the attack at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo.

In the eastern city of Batticaloa, 13 children were killed, including an 18-month-old baby, UNICEF said.

Those 40 children who lost their lives in the two cities were Sri Lankan nationals, while UNICEF has confirmed that another five children of foreign nationality were also killed.

Boulierac was not immediately able to provide details on where the non-Sri Lankan children died.

Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, who was on vacation in Sri Lanka with his family at the weekend, lost three of his four children in the attack, a spokesman for his clothing retail group Bestseller has said.

Twenty children have also been admitted to hospital following the attack in Colombo, including four who were in intensive care.

12.40pm, Tuesday

Sri Lanka attacks 'retaliation for Christchurch': minister

An initial probe into deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people shows it was "retaliation for Christchurch," the country's deputy defence minister said.

"The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka (on Sunday) was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.

Fifty people were killed in shooting attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15.

12.20pm, Tuesday

Syrian detained in blasts probe; toll rises to 321

Sri Lankan police detained a Syrian among 40 people being questioned about the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels, as the toll from the coordinated bomb attacks rose to 321.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which officials said were carried out by at least seven suicide bombers on three churches and four hotels. About 500 people were also wounded.

However, the focus of suspicion is falling on Islamist militants with links to foreign groups. US intelligence sources said the attacks bore some of the hallmarks of the Daesh extremist group.

11.00am, Tuesday

Indian death toll in Sri Lanka climbs to 10

A total of 10 Indians have died in the Easter Sunday serial bombings in Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission here announced on Tuesday.

"Regret to confirm the deaths of two more Indian nationals, A. Maregowda and H. Puttaraju, in the blasts in Sri Lanka, taking the total number of Indian deaths in the tragedy to 10 as of now," said the mission in a tweet.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj re-tweeted the post.

A total of 310 people were killed and over 500 injured in suicide bombings in three Sri Lankan cities on Sunday. Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local Muslim group for the carnage.

8.11pm, Monday

Toll in Sri Lanka blasts rises to 310: police spokesman

Sri Lanka blast victims 20190423
Relatives grieve at the burial of three members of the same family victims of Easter Sunday bomb blast at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. Image Credit: AP

The toll from a string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 310, with several people dying of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Around 500 people were wounded in the blasts, Ruwan Gunasekera said in a statement.

He added that 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks, which Sri Lanka's government has blamed on a previously little-known local Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama'ath.

All Emirati citizens accounted for

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has affirmed that Emirati citizens in Sri Lanka are all fine.

The ministry urged Emiratis traveling abroad to register themselves and their families in the ‘Twajudi’ service, which will enable the ministry and the country’s missions abroad to communicate with them in case of any emergency and provide help for them. Citizens who face any emergency case can contact the UAE missions abroad or call the hotline 80044444.

They can register in the service via the ministry’s website, or its smart app.

4 American citizens among victims

At least four Americans were killed in the coordinated Easter attacks in Sri Lanka that left about 300 people dead, a US official said Monday.

Several US citizens were also seriously injured in the assault on churches and luxury hotels, the State Department official said.

Billionaire loses three children in blasts

Three of the four children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen were killed in the Easter day attacks in Sri Lanka, a spokesman for his clothing retail group Bestseller said on Monday.

Danish media have reported that Holch Povlsen his wife, Anne, and their four children were in Sri Lanka on vacation at the moment of the attacks, which struck churches and luxury hotels killing nearly 300 people.

"I can confirm that three children have been killed," Jesper Stubkier, the communications manager for Bestseller, said in a statement.

"We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments."

Considered to be Denmark's richest man, 46-year-old Holch Povlsen is the main shareholder in the online fashion retailer ASOS as well as owning Bestseller.

He inherited Bestseller from his parents who founded the firm in 1975.

The group, which includes brands such as Vero Moda, Only and Jack & Jones, has more than 3,000 stores in 70 countries.

190422 Sri Lanka new blast
- Image Credit: Social media

In addition to the majority stake in Britain-based ASOS, Holch Povlsen also owns an interest in its German rival Zalando.

Sri Lankan officials said Monday they believe that the local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) was behind the attacks.

Dozens of foreigners are among those killed, while some 500 people were injured.

2.49pm, Monday

Fresh explosion near Colombo church hit by Sunday’s blasts

An explosion went off on Monday in a van near a church in Sri Lanka where scores were killed the previous day, when bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it, a Reuters witness said.

"The van exploded when the bomb defusing unit of the STF (Special Task Force) and air force tried to diffuse the bomb," the witness said.

Security force spokesman were not immediately available for comment.

2.39pm, Monday

We are ashamed: Minister

A leading Sri Lankan Muslim political leader on Monday called for introspection within the community after a local Muslim group was blamed for the suicide bombings.

Rauff Hakeem, a Minister and a leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said that being a Muslim Minister in the Cabinet he believed that the Muslim community and its leaders should introspect.

"We are ashamed and outraged. We have tried to address issues within the community," media reports quoted him as saying.

The government on Monday blamed the National Thowheed Jamath for the serial attacks targeting three luxury hotels and three churches besides two other locations.

2.30pm, Monday

India’s JD-S activists killed as they waited for breakfast

Five Indian political party workers were killed in the Colombo suicide bombings on Easter Sunday when they reached the Shangri La Hotel for breakfast, family members said.

The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) workers from Bengaluru, who were on a holiday, reached the hotel around 8 a.m. or so and headed straight to the breakfast table when they were killed, S. Shivakumar, whose brother-in-law Shivanna died in the explosion, told BBC Hindi.

Shivanna's colleagues K.G. Hanumantharaya, M. Rangappa, K.M. Laxminarayan and Lakshmana Gowda Ramesh were also killed in the blast.

The whereabouts of the other two members of their group was unknown, media reports said.

Sri Lankan woman Lalitha victim of terror attacks 20190422
Sri Lankan woman Lalitha weeps on the coffin with the remains of 12-year old niece, Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. Image Credit: AP

2.19pm, Monday

87 bomb detonators found in Colombo

Sri Lankan police found 87 bomb detonators at the main bus station in the capital, Colombo, on Monday, a spokesman said, a day after suicide bombers attacked churches and hotels killing 290 people and wounding about 500.

Security forces are carrying out searches across the island to find those behind the bombs. No group has claimed responsibility.

2.05pm, Monday

Government declares state of emergency

Sri Lankan authorities have ordered a state of emergency to be introduced from midnight 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.

1.10pm, Monday

Local groups carried out attacks, foreign links suspected

A Sri Lankan government official says a local militant group named  National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) is responsible for the Easter Sunday suicide bombings.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference Monday that all seven bombers linked to the near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in and around Colombo were Sri Lankan citizens.

Senaratne, who is also a cabinet minister, added that the government was investigating whether the group had "international support."

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.

A total of nine bombings Sunday killed at least 290 people including at least 27 foreigners. About 500 others were wounded in the blasts.

Officials said 24 suspects are in custody for questioning.

12.50pm, Monday

Muslim leaders call for 'maximum punishment'

Top Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka on Monday demanded "maximum punishment" for the perpetrators of suicide bomb attacks on Christian churches and luxury hotels in the country that left at least 290 dead.

The comments came as the government refused to give details of at least 24 people arrested over the Easter Sunday attacks for fear of fanning ethnic tensions. Scores of Christians were among the dead.

"We urge the government to provide security to all religious sites and to give maximum punishment to everyone involved in these dastardly acts," said the All Ceylon Jamiyyathuul Ulama, or council of Muslim theologians.

"On behalf of the Sri Lankan Muslim community we offer our condolences to the people of Christian faith and extend our hands of friendship in solidarity."

12.21pm, Monday

Sri Lanka orders new curfew after attacks

The Sri Lankan government on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew as tensions remained high after the series of suicide bomb attacks that left at least 290 dead.

The government information department said the curfew would run from 8:00pm (1430 GMT) on Monday until 4:00am on Tuesday.

An indefinite curfew ordered Sunday after the attacks was lifted early Monday but a two-day holiday was decreed in a bid to reduce public traffic.


Tourists flee Sri Lanka as foreigners targeted

Colombo: Tourists are scrambling to leave Sri Lanka and hotels are bracing for cancellations after a deadly terrorist attack that killed 290 people targeted foreigners and churchgoers.

Holidaymakers are flocking to the main airport, cutting short their vacations in the wake of coordinated blasts at churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, the worst violence since the end of a civil war a decade ago.

Kishu Gomes, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said he couldn't give an exact count of the number of people leaving, but it could run into the thousands. Tour operators in India, the biggest source market for visitors to Sri Lanka, are also canceling trips for clients.

Read the full report

10.19am, Monday

Two Saudi pilots missing, one female flights attendant injured and is in hospital

10.10am, Monday

Warning: 'Terrorists' continue plotting Sri Lanka attacks

The US State Department said in a revised travel advisory 'terrorist groups' were continuing to plot possible attacks in Sri Lanka after 290 people were killed and about 500 wounded in blasts in churches and luxury hotels on Sunday.

"Terrorists may attack with little or no warning," it said in the revised warning, which was dated Sunday US time.

It said possible targets included tourist locations, transportation hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, airports and other public areas.

10.05am, Monday

Attacks carried out by 7 suicide bombers

The coordinated Easter Sunday bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels were carried out by seven suicide bombers, a government investigator said Monday.

An analysis of the attackers' body parts made clear that they were suicide bombers, said Ariyananda Welianga, a forensic crime investigator. He said most attacks were by one bomber, with two at Colombo's Shangri-La Hotel.

But officials have yet to say who they believe is behind the attacks. The Tamil Tigers, once a powerful rebel army known for its use of suicide bombers, was crushed by the government in 2009, and had little history of targeting Christians. While anti-Muslim bigotry has swept the island in recent years, fed by Buddhist nationalists, the island also has no history of violent Muslim militants. The country's small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment in recent years.

9.15am, Monday

Latest: Six Indians killed in Sri Lanka blasts

At least six Indians have been killed in a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, which struck three churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said on Monday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday identified two more individuals killed in the blasts on Sunday.

"We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday, K G Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa," Swaraj retweetd Indian High Commission in Colombo's tweet.


latest death toll, as of Monday, in the terror attacks in Sri Lanka

On Sunday, Swaraj, 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.

On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan identified a Keralite, P S Rasina (58), among those killed in the deadly bomb blasts.

7.43 am, Monday, April 22 (all timings Dubai)

Death toll rises to 290

190422 sri lanka
Shoes of victims are kept as evidence as security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka Image Credit: AFP

Colombo: The death toll has risen to 290 on Monday following the coordinated bombings in eight different places on the island nation.

Nearly all victims were Sri Lankan. Local media reported at least 35 of the victims were foreigners.


foreigners were also killed in the Sunday terror attacks

About 500 people are also wounded, according to the figures provided to both Reuters and AFP. On Sunday night, the death toll was at 207.

24 suspects questioned

7.01 am, Monday, April 22

A Reuters journalist reported that the police are currently interrogating 24 suspects arrested over the series of deadly explosions in Sri Lanka.

A father and his two sons, were some of those arrested from Diyatalawa district, with some T-56 live ammunition.

Also arrested were two persons in Dambulla district on suspicions over their alleged involvement to the suicide attacks.

6.48 am, Monday, April 22

Improvised bomb found near airport

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said an improvised bomb has been defused near the Colombo airport. The bomb was discovered and made safe hours ago, late on Sunday night, but police provided further details on Monday morning.

One source told AFP it was “a homemade bomb”. Airforce spokesperson Gihan Seneviratne said it was locally made, and described it as “a crude six-foot pipe bomb that was found by the roadside”.

6.45 am, Monday, April 22

Social media blocked

Image Credit: Supplied

Tourists and residents attempting to get in touch with relatives via social media on Monday were unable to do so without a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a foreign SIM card, after the government ordered a block on social media in the aftermath of the attacks.

Attempts to load Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and the messaging app Viber all failed Monday morning. Twitter appears to be accessible and some government ministers have been tweeting out information.

6.37 am, Monday, April 22

Airport scene, curfew lifted at 6am

Chaotic scenes reported at airports — buses and trains are back to normal now the curfew is over.

The SLTB & the Railway Control room say buses & train services will operate as per usual following the lifting of curfew as of 6am on Monday.

6.30 am, Monday, April 22

13 people arrested

Police have arrested at least 13 people suspected (up from earlier figure of eight) of links to the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Government investigators said they are also looking into whether the attackers had "overseas links".

5.58am, Monday, April 22

Two Turkish engineers named among the victims

Turkey has revealed the names of two Turkish citizens killed in the bombings. "Unfortunately, we lost our citizens, Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus, in the treacherous attacks in Sri Lanka," Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in state media Anadolu Agency. Both were engineers, the agency reported.

“We are in contact with their families and we will ensure quick return of the bodies to our country," Cavusoglu said.

Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church
Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo. Image Credit: AP

4.45am, Monday, April 22

Colombo streets deserted 

Colombo’s streets were deserted after the government imposed a nationwide curfew and curbed social media access to prevent "wrong information" from spreading.

Tourists and residents attempting to get in touch with relatives via social media on Monday were unable to do so without a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a foreign SIM card, after the government ordered a block on social media in the aftermath of the attacks.

3 Indians killed

Indian media reported at least 3 Indians were killed in the Sri Lanka attacks. The Indian diplomatic mission in Colombo confirmed the deaths of two Indian nationals.

1.05am, Monday, April 22, 2019

Intel on terror attacks dated April 11

Sri Lanka’s telecommunications minister, Harin Fernando, tweeted out photos of the memo from intelligence agencies – dated 11 April – warning of attacks.

11.30pm, Sunday, April 21, 2019

Britons, Americans, Dutch, Indians, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese among dead

Most of the fatalities were Sri Lankans. Some of the dead — at least 35 — were foreigners.

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed that three Indian national have been killed in Easter Day bomb blasts.

Britons were also among those killed in the deadly Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka, the Foreign Office in London said.

"We can confirm that British nationals were among those killed in today's horrific attacks in Sri Lanka," a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman told AFP.

"Our staff are supporting the relatives of the victims and are continuing to work with the relevant authorities to obtain further information.

"We extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones and all those affected by this senseless tragedy."

The spokeswoman did not give a figure for the Britons killed, but a government ministry source said London was aware of at least five British fatalities.

A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services, killing more than 200 people, including dozens of foreigners.

James Dauris, Britain's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, was attending an Easter Day church service in Colombo that was cut short by the attacks. He visited UK nationals in hospital in the capital and called the attacks "evil".

'Truly appalling' attacks

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the blasts, saying on Twitter: "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."

In her Easter message released just hours before the blasts, May — the daughter of an Anglican vicar — offered her support to Christians around the world who face "huge danger" because of their faith.

She said: "Churches have been attacked. Christians murdered. Families forced to flee their homes. That is why the government has launched a global review into the persecution of Christians.

"We must stand up for the right of everyone, no matter what their religion, to practise their faith in peace."

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also condemned the Sir Lanka blasts.

He tweeted: "I'm deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

"To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked."

Eight arrested in connection with Sri Lanka blasts: PM

Eight people have been arrested in connection with a string of deadly blasts that killed more than 200 people in Sri Lanka on Sunday, the country's prime minister said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said "so far the names that have come up are local," but that investigators would look into whether the attackers had any "overseas links".

UAE Ministry issues travel advisory

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the UAE advises citizens to avoid travelling to Sri Lanka owing to the current situation. The Ministry has also asked citizens in Sri Lanka to leave and communicate with its contact centres through 0097180044444.

Emirates issues notice for people travelling from Colombo to Dubai

The UAE's national airline has called on passengers enroute to Dubai from Colombo to take certain measures while travelling. There is heightened security, Emirates tweeted, urging people to arrive at the airport at least 4 hours before their flight departure. 

UAE leaders condemn terror attacks, offer condolences

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai condemned the heinous attack.

"Terrorists are those who betray worshippers in their places of worship, plant fear in their hearts and try to ignite religious conflicts in societies. Our condolences to the people of Sri Lanka, to the world and to everyone who works tirelessly towards tolerance and coexistence."

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE, tweeted: "The bombings that claimed innocent lives in Sri Lanka represent a new wave of terrorism that affects humanity. We condemn the cowardly bombings and offer condolences to Sri Lanka's leadership and people. We need to stand firm to eradicate the scourge of terror."

As of 4.30 pm (Dubai time)

The toll in a series of eight blasts in Sri Lanka on Sunday has risen to at least 207, with over 450 people wounded, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Speaking at a press conference, he said three people had been arrested in connection with the attacks that mostly targeted high-end hotels in the capital and churches where worshippers were attending Easter services.

Gunasekera said the police were investigating whether suicide bombers were involved in all of the blasts.

An injured woman lays on a stretcher
An injured woman lays on a stretcher as hospital workers push her at the District General Hospital in Negombo, following an explosion at St Sebastian's Church. Image Credit: AFP

According to officials, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the restaurant of the Cinnamon Grand hotel.

Harsha de Silva, Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, said that there have been "many casualties including foreigners."

Investigators told The Daily Mirror an English daily that two terrorists had on Saturday checked into Room 616 of The Shangri-La hotel, one of the three Colombo hotels where blasts took place in quick succession.

CCTV footage revealed that the suspects detonated the bombs in the cafeteria and on the corridor of the hotel, it said.

Investigators suspect that C-4 explosives weighing 25 kg were used for the bombings at the hotel, it said.

As of 4.16 pm (Dubai time)

SriLankan Airlines is telling passengers booked on flights out of the country that they will be able to fly despite the curfew imposed after deadly Easter Sunday attacks.

The carrier says in a statement that travelers on all airlines operating out of Bandaranaike International Airport can access the airport by showing their tickets and passports at checkpoints.

A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo
A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo. Image Credit: AP

The airline says security has been tightened at the airport, and it advises passengers to arrive four hours before their scheduled flights.

Authorities have imposed a 12-hour overnight curfew beginning at 6 p.m. after a series of coordinated deadly blasts rocked the heavily touristed island nation.

As of 3.41 pm (Dubai time)

Sri Lanka's defense minister says seven suspects have been arrested following series of blasts that killed at least 190.

One Chinese national was killed during the attacks Chinese state newspaper People's Daily said.

Earlier, state news agency Xinhua said four Chinese nationals were injured, but were in a stable condition in hospital.

Image Credit: Gulf News

Sri Lanka's most senior Catholic figure called Sunday on the government to find the attackers behind deadly blasts that killed more than 160 people and "punish them mercilessly".

"I would also like to ask the government to hold a very impartial strong inquiry and find out who is responsible behind this act and also to punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that," Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, told reporters.

Years of war

Series of blasts blamed on religious extremists, recalled the worst days of the country's 26-year civil war.

Sri Lanka, an island nation of some 23 million people, was dominated for decades by the sharp divide between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and the minority Tamil, who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

Sri Lankan security personnel walk past dead bodies covered with blankets amid blast debris at St. Anthony's Shrine following an explosion in the church in Kochchikade in Colombo Image Credit: AFP

The mistreatment of Tamils helped nurture the growth of armed separatists and led to nearly 30 years of civil war, with Tamil Tiger fighters eventually creating a de facto independent homeland in the country's north.

The Tigers were crushed in a 2009 government offensive, with some observers believing that tens of thousands of Tamils died in the last few months of fighting alone.

A Religous Divide

After the civil war ended, a religious divide quickly took hold, with hardline Buddhist monks rallying Sri Lankans against what they argue is a pernicious threat: Muslims, who make up roughly 10 percent of the country's population.

Buddhist nationalist leaders accuse Muslims of recruiting children, trying to grow their ranks by marrying Buddhist women and attacking Buddhist shrines. Muslims denied the accusations. Small-town economics also plays a significant role, since Muslims own many of the country's small shops.

As of 3.10pm (Dubai time)

Suicide bombers were involved in at least two of the deadly blasts that ripped through churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday killing around 160 people, according to police and hotel officials.

The eighth blast, in a house in a northern suburb of the capital Colombo, was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives when police entered the residence to search it, a police source told AFP.

The explosion brought down the upper level of the house and killed three police officers, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

And a hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand hotel, one of three in the capital that were hit by explosions, said a suicide bomber blew himself up at people at the facility's restaurant.

"He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast," he told AFP.

The nature of the other blasts has not yet been confirmed, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly attacks - the worst act of violence in Sri Lanka since the end of the country's bloody civil war a decade ago.

As of 2.37 pm (Dubai time)

A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing nearly 160 people, including dozens of foreigners. 

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suicide bomber detonated his explosives when police entered a house in a northern suburb of the capital Colombo to carry out a search.

The powerful blasts - six in quick succession and then two more hours later - wrought devastation, including at the capital's well-known St Anthony's Shrine, a historic Catholic Church.

Hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens were among the 160 dead overall, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man also died, the country's LUSA news agency reported.

The nature of the blasts was not clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.

Blast sites reported so far
St Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade
St Sebastian's Church, Negombo
Zion Church, Batticaloa
Cinnamon Grand, Colombo
Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo
The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo
Near Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
A house in Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda

As of 1.22 pm (Dubai time)

Sri Lanka goverment declares curfew with immediate effect, after an eighth blast hit the capital. Also goverment announced a shutdown of all major social media sites and all messaging services.

Social Media war 

In 2018, anti-Muslim violence flared across the hills of central Sri Lanka, fed by rumors spread over social media about attacks on Buddhists. Mobs of Buddhists swept through small towns, attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops. The government briefly declared a state of emergency and ordered popular social media networks, including Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp, blocked for a time to stop the violence from spreading.

Police said the blast hit the suburb of Orugodawatta in the north of the capital, but there were no further details on what was targeted.

Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday Image Credit: AP

Nearly 160 people have been confirmed dead so far in the string of attacks targeting hotels and churches.

Police reported that the seventh explosion took place at a hotel in Colombo, following six reported at hotels and churches earlier in the day that killed nearly 156 people.

The seventh explosion reported was at a hotel near the national zoo, which is in an area near the capital Colombo.

"There was an explosion in a hotel in Dehiwela near the zoo," a police official told Reuters adding that there were no further details available.

An eyewitness on local TV said he saw some body parts including a severed head lying on the ground near the hotel.

Zoo officials declared the zoo closed after the blast.

As of 1.16pm (Dubai time)

Eighth blast hits Sri Lanka in capital: police

As of 1pm (Dubai time)

A new blast hit a hotel in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo on Sunday, killing at least two people, a police spokesman said, after a string of explosions at churches and hotels.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the blast hit a hotel in the southern Colombo suburb of Dehiwala. It was the seventh attack to hit the country on Sunday, with police saying more than 150 people have been killed.

As of 12.08pm (Dubai)

At least 156 people were killed, including 35 foreigners when a string of coordinated explosions hit high-end hotels and churches in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, police said Sunday.

Foreign relatives of a victim of the explosion react at the police mortuary in Colombo, Sri Lanka Image Credit: Reuters

The coordinated blasts took place at 8:45 a.m. local time.

A hospital source said Americans, British and Dutch citizens were among those killed in the six blasts, which also injured hundreds of people.

At least six explosions have been reported. Three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa were targeted during Easter services.

UAE condemns the terrorist attacks

UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in a statement today, condemned the series of terrorist bombings that targeted churches and hotels in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo.

The statement affirmed UAE firm stance against all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism, targeting all without distinction between religion and race.

Added the UAE stands in solidarity with the government and people of Sri Lanka in their fight against violence and extremism.


At least 400 people were injured and were undergoing treatment, an employee at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka said by phone.

A relative of a victim of the explosion at St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church reacts at the police mortuary in Colombo Image Credit: Reuters

Foreigners were among the dead in Colombo, Sri Lanka Health Services director general Anil Jasinghe said.

With pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

Police chief warned of the suicide attack

Sri Lanka's police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday's bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches", according to the warning seen by AFP.

Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat.

"A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," said the alert.

The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues.

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the string of blasts that killed at least 137 people on Sunday as "cowardly" and said the government was working to "contain the situation."

"I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today," he said in a tweet from his verified account.

"I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation."

"Horrible scenes"

"Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway," Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet on his verified account.

He said he had been to two of the attacked hotels and was at the scene at St Anthony's Shrine and described "horrible scenes."

"I saw many body parts strewn all over," he tweeted, adding that there were "many casualties including foreigners."

"Please stay calm and indoors," he added.

President Maithripala Sirisena in an address said he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, writing on his verified Twitter account, said the attacks had killed "many innocent people" and appeared to be a "well-coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem & anarchy."

The first explosions were reported at St Anthony's Church in Colombo and St Sebastian's in the town of Negombo just outside the capital and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa - were targeted, police said.

The Colombo National Hospital spokesperson, Dr Samindi Samarakoon, said at least 280 people have been admitted with injuries.

An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.

Casualties so far
More than 100 reported dead, numbers to climb
Colombo National Hospital least 280 people have been admitted with injuries
Batticaloa hospital more than 300 people admitted with injuries

The Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels, all in Colombo, were also hit.

Police and emergency vehicles blocked the entrance to the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, where there's visible damage, including shattered windows above the main entrance where a cafe was located.

Ethnic and religious divisions have plagued the island nation for decades, and 26-year civil war that ended in 2009 saw at least 100,000 people killed. Catholics, split between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority, make up 6.5 percent of Sri Lanka's 20.4 million population, according to the nation's 2012 census.

Three Churches hit

Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast. The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.

Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.

The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear.

Blasts hit churches Sri Lanka 01
Blasts hit churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday, including in the capital Colombo, as worshippers attended Easter services, police said. This photograph from Sri Lankan English newspaper Daily Mirror shows one of the churches impacted in Easter Sunday blasts. April 21, 2019. Image Credit: Courtesy: Daily Mirror

Witnesses reported having heard loud explosions inside the churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services on Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers.

The first blast ripped through St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo.

Casualties evacuated

"Our people are engaged in evacuating the casualties," a Reuters' source said at St Anthony's.

Alex Agileson who was in the vicinity said buildings in the surrounding area shook with the blast. A number of injured were carried in ambulances, he added.

190421 colombo
Police and emergency services at one of the blast sites in Colombo Image Credit: AP

Sri Lankan security officials say they are checking for details.

Sri Lankan media report that foreign tourists may be among the casualties.

190421 sri lanka ambulance
Sri Lankan security personnel stand next to an ambulance outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo Image Credit: AFP

Some media outlets have also put the death toll higher.

No-one has yet said they were responsible for the attacks.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.

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