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Attacks in Sri Lanka kill hundreds on Easter Sunday

Sri Lankan navy soldiers at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Columbo, Sri Lanka, on Monday Associated Press/Photo by Eranga Jayawardena

Attacks in Sri Lanka kill hundreds on Easter Sunday

A series of bombings on Easter Sunday targeted churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, killing at least 290 people and leaving more than 500 others injured. The first of nine explosions struck St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the capital city. A few hours later, two additional blasts went off at the Protestant Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa and at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Negombo, a mostly Catholic town north of Colombo. Three smaller explosions detonated hours later at a guest house, an overpass, and a housing block as police officers tracked down the suspects.

Images from some of the churches showed damaged roofs, blood-spattered walls, and broken pews. At least 37 foreigners, who often frequent St. Anthony’s Shrine and nearby hotels, were killed. The United States confirmed several Americans died. Also killed were nationals of Australia, Britain, China, India, and Japan, among others.

No group claimed responsibility for the violence, but authorities detained 24 Sri Lankan suspects. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said seven suicide bombers from the militant group National Towheed Jamaat carried out the attacks. The government on Monday lifted a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew but continued a ban on Facebook and other social media sites to curb the spread of misinformation.

Telecommunication Minister Harin Fernando on Twitter shared an intelligence report stamped April 11 that warned of planned attacks. “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incident,” he wrote. “Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.” Officials are still investigating any links to international terror groups. The killings represent the worst violence in the country since its 26-year civil war ended in 2009 after Sri Lankan forces defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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