Sri Lanka bombings toll rises to 290; 24 suspects arrested


Colombo, April 22, 2019

Sri Lanka bombings death toll passes 200
With the death toll in the deadly Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka increasing to 290, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera on Monday confirmed that 24 people have been arrested for their involvement in the island's bloodiest attacks in a decade.
Gunasekera confirmed the toll and the arrests to the media here. He also added that 500 people were injured.
The Sunday night toll was at 207, which was revised as more bodies were recovered and some more succumbed to their injuries, the Guardian reported. 
Gunasekara said that the police has seized a van and its driver who is suspected of transporting the suspects into Colombo and also raided a safe house used by the attackers. 
No group has yet claimed direct responsibility for the eight bombings that ripped through churches and hotels, mostly in the capital Colombo, on Sunday -- the bloodiest day in  the island antion since the civil war ended a decade ago.
Four Indians, two of them women. were among the dead while some others had a narrow escape.
Sri Lanka declared a nationwide curfew and placed curbs on social media to kill fake news after the suicide bombers carried out the string of well-planned explosions targeting luxury hotels and Catholic churches in Colombo and elsewhere, triggering international outrage.
The first of the eight blasts took place in the morning in three luxury hotels in the heart of Colombo and in a church each in Colombo, Negombo, 30 km from here, and in the Tamil-majority Batticaloa town in the island's east that was once a Tamil Tiger stronghold.
In the afternoon, another blast hit a guest house near the zoo in Dehiwala in Colombo, killing two persons, and a housing complex at Dematogoda in the city leaving three policemen dead.
A total of 27 foreigners, including four Indians and also people from Turkey, the US, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and China, perished in the mayhem. 
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, quoting official reports from Colombo, identified the Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. 
The fourth was a Kerala woman holidaying in Colombo. P.S. Razeena, 58, had arrived there along with her husband to meet their relatives engaged in business there and was staying at one of the three hotels targeted by suicide bombers.
Razeena and her husband, who hail from Kerala's Kasargode, lived in Dubai. 
Many Indians, including noted Indian Tamil actress Radikaa Sarathkumar and a party of businessmen from Andhra Pradesh's Anantpur, had a narrow escape. Radikaa tweeted that she was staying at the Cinnamon Grand, located near the official residence of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, and had just left it prior to the blast there. 
Officials and survivors painted a horrific picture of what happened.
Kieran Arasaratnam, who was staying in the Shangri-La, one of the three hotels, said he heard what sounded like a "thunder", forcing him to sprint all the way down from the 17th floor, BBC reported.
He saw the second floor restaurant gutted and realized he was alive only because he delayed his breakfast.
In Cinnamon Grand, survivors said that a suicide bomber had joined the line at the breakfast buffet and detonate the explosives.
Member of European Parliament, Nirj Deva said he had just arrived at one of the hotels after the blast and saw scenes of carnage all around.
The bloodbath started around 8.30 a.m. at the St Anthony's Shrine at Kochchikade in Colombo during Easter Mass where one man said he heard a booming explosion and saw virtually the whole roof come crashing down. "We just ran," he told the media.
The other places hit were St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, the Zion Church in Batticaloa, 250 km east of Colombo, and the Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury Hotels.
Photos and videos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost fully blown away in the blast. The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood, media reports said.
Many people could be seen covered in blood. Some helped those with more serious injuries. Ambulances, their sirens wailing, rushed the dead and seriously injured to hospitals -- once a familiar sight in Colombo.

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