Monday, April 22, 2019

Sri Lanka Death Toll Spikes To 290, 500 Wounded

Sri Lanka attacks death toll spikes to 290, about 500 wounded

The death toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also wounded, police said on Monday.

Bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the first major attack on the Indian Ocean island since the end of a civil war 10 years ago.
Thirteen people were arrested and three police officers were killed during a security forces raid on a house in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo several hours after the attacks, many of which officials said were suicide bomb explosions.

The government declared a curfew in Colombo and blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp. It is unclear when the curfew will be lifted.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said US nationals were among those killed, but did not give details.
There are 25 unidentified bodies, believed to be of foreigners, at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s mortuary, according to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009, a time when bomb blasts in the capital were common.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged that the government had some “prior information of the attack,” though ministers were not told.

He said there wasn’t an adequate response and there needed to be an inquiry into how the information was used.

He also said the government needs to look at the international links of a local terrorist group.
Agence France-Presse reported that it had seen documents showing that Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches.” He cited a foreign intelligence service as reporting that a little-known Islamist group was planning attacks.

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