Police said 7 suicide bombers 01
Police said 7 suicide bombers took part in the devastating attacks on churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka that killed 290 people and wounded more than 500, a senior investigator said on Monday. Image Credit: Agency


  • Fresh curfew announced by government on Monday 
  • Death toll from Sri Lanka blasts rises sharply to 290  
  • There was still no claim of responsibility for the attacks on 3 churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka
  • Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist
  • US advisory warns more attacks are possible attacks

COLOMBO: An Australian survivor, identified only as Sam, told Australia's 3AW radio that the hotel he stayed in that was targetted by a terror attack was a scene of "absolute carnage".

He said he and a travel partner were having breakfast at the Shangri-La when two blasts went off.

He said he had seen two men wearing backpacks seconds before the blasts.

"There were people screaming and dead bodies all around," he said.

"Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don't know if they were dead or not, just crazy."

There were people screaming and dead bodies all around. Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don't know if they were dead or not, just crazy.

- Sam, Australian survivor of Sri Lanka bombings

There were similar scenes of carnage at two churches in or near Colombo, and a third church in the northeast town of Batticaloa, where worshippers had gathered for Easter Sunday services.

Pictures from the scene showed bodies on the ground and blood-spattered pews and statues. Dozens were killed in one of the blasts at the Gothic-style St. Sebastian church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo. Police said they suspected that blast was a suicide attack.

New curfew ordered

Sri Lankan authorities ordered a curfew in the capital, Colombo, for a second day on Monday, from 8 pm (1430 GMT) to 4 am (2230 GMT) on Tuesday, the government information department said, a day after a string of bombs killed 290 people and wounded about 500.

Security forces are carrying out searches across the island to search for those behind the bombs at churches and hotels.

At least 24 people had been held and questioned by police for suspected links to the bombings.

There was still no claim of responsibility for the attacks on two churches and four hotels in and around Colombo, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka, and a third church on the country's northeast coast.

The island-wide curfew 01
The island-wide curfew was re-imposed by the government from 8pm on Monday till 4am on Tuesday. Image Credit: File

A government source said President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.

Fear of communal violence

There were fears the attacks could spark a renewal of communal violence, with police reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.

Sri Lanka had been at war for decades with Tamil separatists but extremist violence had been on the wane since the civil war ended 10 years ago.

The South Asian nation of about 22 million people has Christian, Muslim and Hindu populations of between about eight and 12 percent.

The island-wide curfew imposed by the government was lifted early on Monday, although there was uncharacteristically thin traffic in the normally bustling capital.

Soldiers armed with automatic weapons stood guard outside major hotels and the World Trade Centre in the business district, where the four hotels were targeted on Easter Sunday, according to a Reuters witness.

Scores of people who were stranded overnight at the main airport began making their way home as restrictions were lifted.

The government also blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp, making information hard to come by.

Prior information

Wickremsinghe acknowledged on Sunday that the government had some prior information about possible attacks on churches involving a little-known militant group, but said ministers had not been told.

Sri Lankans accounted for the bulk of the 290 people killed and 500 wounded, although government officials said 32 foreigners were also killed. These included British, US, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

A British mother-and-son eating breakfast at the luxury Shangri-La hotel were among those killed, Britain's The Telegraph newspaper reported.

3 police officers killed during raid

Three police officers were also killed when security forces raided a house in Colombo several hours after the attacks.

Police reported an explosion at the house.