Sunday, April 21, 2019

More Arrests In Sri Lanka - Safe House Discovered

More arrests as Sri Lanka hunts for attackers behind deadly spate of bombings

Police in Sri Lanka said they discovered a safe house used by attackers in a series of deadly bombings that rocked churches and hotels in or near Sri Lanka’s capital on Easter Sunday, as officials arrested suspects and hunted for those responsible for the attacks.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena described the bombings as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. He said most of the blasts were believed to have been suicide attacks.
Over 200 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in eight separate bomb blasts centered around Colombo — the deadliest violence the South Asian island country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago.

The explosions at three churches and three hotels collapsed ceilings and blew out windows, killing worshipers and hotel guests. People were seen carrying victims out of blood-spattered pews. Witnesses described powerful blasts, followed by scenes of smoke, blood, broken glass, alarms going off, and victims screaming.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said 13 suspects were arrested, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In a statement, Gunasekara also said police found a van they suspect was used to transport the suspects into Colombo and a safe house used by the attackers.

Gunasekara said at least 207 people were killed and 450 wounded.

Most of those killed were Sri Lankans. But the three hotels and one of the churches, St. Anthony’s Shrine, are frequented by foreign tourists, and Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said the bodies of at least 27 foreigners from a variety of countries were recovered. The US said “several” American were among the dead, while Britain and China said they, too, lost citizens.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said no Israelis were hurt in the attacks.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could trigger instability in Sri Lanka, a country of about 21 million people, and vowed to “vest all necessary powers with the defense forces” to take action against those responsible.
Wickremesinghe urged people to “hold our unity as Sri Lankans,” and pledged to “wipe out this menace once and for all.”

The government imposed a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and blocked Facebook and other social media, saying it needed to curtail the spread of false information and ease tension.

The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka’s government to “mercilessly” punish those responsible “because only animals can behave like that.”
US President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences about the “horrible terrorist attacks,” and Pope Francis, in his Easter address at the Vatican, spoke of his “affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer.”
Embassies in Colombo warned their citizens to stay inside, and Sri Lankan Airlines told passengers to arrive at the airport four hours ahead of flights because of ramped-up security.

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