The teardrop of India was left in a catastrophic state after a wave of bombings hit the country during the Easter weekend
At least six suicide bombers were involved in the attacks which were aimed at Hotels and other public places on Easter Sunday. Officials claim that sites which were known to be housing mass gatherings for prayer were specifically targeted. A video previously emerged showing one of the bombers calmly entering a Church in the city of Negombo, in the Northern Province of Colombo. Dozens were murdered in the blast that followed.
Who were the Victims?
Approximately 310 people have been killed and almost 500 injured following the attacks. Among those murdered were Sri Lankan citizens and British Nationals holidaying in Sri Lanka at the time. Victims included a British mother and her two children, a retired Manchester fire-fighter commander and his wife, as well as a fifth-grader from Washington and the 3 children of a Danish billionaire.
How have the Government Responded?
The day following the incident sent Sri Lanka into a national state of emergency. This gave the military and police personnel the power to place suspects under arrest and interrogate them without a court order. At least 40 suspects were detained in relation to the bombings. These types of powers have not been given to the authorities since the time of Sri Lanka’s last civil war.
A media ban was also imposed on the country as the government called-out ‘false news reports’ which was spreading terror amongst locals as well as circulating incorrect information. Many websites and their associated platforms were blocked for use, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp and YouTube.
Two days following the attack saw a national day of mourning. A country-wide moment of silence was observed at 08:30 am, mirroring the time the first bombs were detonated in the previous Sunday’s attacks. White flags were hung all over buildings across Colombo in a touching tribute for the deceased. A wave of mass funerals also took place, in Negombo more than 20 coffins were lowered into the ground for a collective memorial.
Who is to Blame?
According to sources, Sri Lanka was warned by India and US intelligence services that “something terrible was to happen”, but failed to act upon the news.
De Silva, a trustee of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, stated that: “it wasn’t a failure of the intelligence apparatus” but “a failure of implementing” a justified response.
The PM said that the government was not informed of any information prior to the attacks and an investigation is to be launched about why this was so.
So far, the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. They bombings were allegedly a response to the Christchurch shootings which took place on a Mosque in Zealand and killed many followers of the Islamic faith. Sri Lanka’s government has acclaimed local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) for the attacks.
Interpol and the FBI are among the global agencies who have stepped up to assist the investigation.
The UK Foreign Secretary has released the following statements in response to the attacks. Jeremy Hunt has said:
“I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today, and the tragic news of more than 200 people killed, including several British nationals.
“To target those gathered for the simple act of worship on Easter Sunday is unspeakably wicked. Everyone has a right to practice their faith in peace, safety and security but tragedies like this, and the one in Christchurch, remind us that there are some who hate these rights and freedoms.
“The UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world and with the government and people of Sri Lanka. My prayers are with all the victims and their families.”