Sri Lanka Bombings

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Sri Lanka Bombings

Roselind Zeng, Staff Writer

On Sunday, Apr. 21, Sri Lanka was devasted by widespread bombings, which took the lives of at least 310 people. A total of eight bombs exploded at different churches and hotels, with around a dozen more still yet to detonate. As of now, 21 million people are under government lockdown, as hysteria rises within the community. 24 people have been taken into police custody.

 

The first wave of attacks occurred during services at the churches in Negombo and Batticaloa, two cities at the center of the minority Christian community. Three more bombs went off at luxury hotels in Colombo, the capital city; the Shangri-la, Cinnamon Grand, and Kingsbury hotels. Another hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo, located in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, was also attacked, and a raid was orchestrated at Mahawila Gardens, in Dematagoda, in relation to the attacks. The last blast happened at a private home in Mahawila Gardens, while investigators were questioning those inside.

 

The bombs left a gruesome scene behind at each site, with Father Edmond Tilekeratne describing “pieces of flesh [having been] thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside [St. Sebastian’s Church].” As an eyewitness, he documented that there were more than 1000 people present, in honor of Easter.  The high commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK, Manish Gunasekera, has released a statement announcing that these were “certainly acts of terror” and the event as a whole was “an attack against the whole of Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka is [a] multiethnic, multireligious, and multicultural country.”

 

The violence ended a peaceful period following Sri Lanka’s crippling civil war, which ended in 2009. The island, a popular place to visit for many tourists, had been critically acclaimed for its beautiful beaches— now, the tourism industry will face an undoubted hit from international backlash on national security. Approximately 39 of some 310 people killed were foreigners, with at least 20 having died in Colombo.

 

Following the attacks, the government has suspended all access to social media within the country, hoping to destroy means of communication and guard against more threats. The Sri Lankan government decreed that an island-wide curfew be imposed from Sunday evening until Monday morning, with guards and bomb-sniffing dogs employed at the sites of the attacks. An emergency meeting had taken place between the heads of the army, air force, and navy to decide on the proceedings during the aftermath.

 

On Apr. 22, the government dealt with the realization that they had been given prior warning to the bombings by a top Sri Lankan police official ten days before the Easter attacks. In his letter, the official laid out not only the name of the terrorist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, but specific members and their whereabouts: all crucial information that was never provided to top security officials. Little had been done in response; Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his cabinet members all reported that they had not been informed beforehand, indicating a breakdown of communications from within.

 

Investigations are still ongoing, and the country continues to grieve for its losses. Sri Lanka is still looking into the National Thowheeth Jama’ath’s motives, and their modus operandi.

Picture courtesy of ALJAZEERA.COM