Categorized | Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a foreign hand behind the attacks

NOVANEWS

On Easter Sunday, eight explosions hit churches and  hotels in Sri Lanka causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.The Sri Lankan government has temporarily blocked social media throughout the country and imposed a curfew, while security forces are still in operation . Yesterday a new attack hit Colombo .

Sri Lanka

On the morning of Easter Sunday, eight simultaneous  explosives exploded during the Easter celebrations , causing deaths and injuries, in the churches of St. Anthony in Columbus,  St. Sebastian in Negombo and the Christian Baptist Zion Church in Batticaloa. Hotels frequented by tourists in Colombo, the Shangri-La, the Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo, and a small hotel in Dehiwala, on the southern outskirts, were also targeted  . The eighth explosion, in Dematagoda, a north-eastern suburb of Colombo, was caused by a suicide bomber who killed three policemen who entered a house to search it. Three other officers were killed in a blitz that led to the arrest of seven people.

Easter Monday saw a new attack near the church of St. Anthony in Colombo. In the afternoon  a big explosion in a van, while the bomb squad was defusing the device. The police also found 87 detonators near Colombo’s main bus station.

The budget of the Easter attacks in the three cities of the island has risen to at least 321 dead and five hundred wounded, said the spokesman of the police, Ruwan Gunasekara, including at least 36 foreign citizens of at least eight different nationalities (Turkish, Pakistani , Bengali, Indian, Moroccan, American, Japanese and Danish), and 500 wounded, of whom 30 are foreigners. Three of the four children of the Danish patron from Asos also lost their lives.

The attacks have not yet been claimed, but the government has assured that those responsible for the terrorist act have been identified and will soon be arrested. All Easter celebrations were canceled and a curfew was imposed from three in the afternoon with immediate effect and then from 8 pm. The use of social networks was also suspended.

On Sunday afternoon, the Defense Minister, Wijewardene announced the first seven arrests of suspects and specified that they all belong to the same group, without specifying which one. Behind the Easter attacks, the government later reported, there is a local terrorist group, the National Thowheed Jamath , also admitting  large flaws in its intelligence. The attack, which saw seven suicide bombers in action, took place with the help of an international network.  The police then stated that there are many more detainees and that they cannot “tell who is behind the attacks and what their intentions are until the investigation is completed”.

Condemnations and condolences from all over the world. The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella , expressed “disdain and profound sadness” and confirmed Italy’s inflexible commitment “in the fight against all forms of terrorism and violence”. Pope Francis  urged everyone to condemn the Sri Lankan massacre.   

Foreign actors behind the level of sophistication of the attacks

Experts said that targeting churches and hotels where foreign tourists are staying in Sri Lanka, which has suffered several suicide attacks against officials and government installations during the civil war, has been a “new and worrying development” in the country predominantly Buddhist. “These synchronized attacks are out of the ordinary for Sri Lanka. Compared to similar attacks in the Middle East and South-East Asia, they have the DNA of attacks brought by the Islamic state and al-Qaeda, “ said Alto Labetubun, an anti-terrorist expert who followed the two groups for a decade.

Four of the bombs exploded at about the same time on Sunday, at 8.45am, with two more within 20 minutes. Two more explosions shook the city in the afternoon. Later the authorities found unexploded devices and a van full of explosives in various locations.

Sri Lanka has seen frequent suicide bombings before 2009, but T amil minority separatists attacked only government targets. Sunday’s attacks marked a shift to churches and places associated with Western interests, experts say. It is plausible that the attacks may have been inspired by Isis’ tactics and ideology . 

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