According to police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera, three suspects have been arrested following a raid on a house in Colombo following bomb attacks involving more than 200 people. The media reported three police officers were killed. The investigators were currently investigating that whether all attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, the spokesman said. At several crime scenes eyewitnesses reported that suicide bombers blew themselves up. Gunasekera did not want to confirm this information with reference to ongoing investigations.
Also Read: Sri Lanka explosions: 185 dead, 400 injured
In the devastating series of attacks on Christian churches and hotels more than 200 people have been killed on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka – including twelve foreigners. According to the local police authorities, more than 500 people were injured in the coordinated explosions. Among the foreigners is a Dutchman, said Foreign Minister Stef Blok. The state-run Chinese newspaper People’s Daily reported that even a Chinese man had died in the attacks. According to the Turkish news agency Anadolou was among the dead two Turks.
There were at least eight detonations, including three in churches and three more in luxury hotels. Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene spoke of a “terrorist attack” and blamed extremists for the bloody deeds. The responsible persons are identified, he said. He imposed a nationwide curfew until early Monday morning. The government also temporarily closed access to social media on Sunday.
There were explosions in two Catholic and one free church: the St. Anthony’s Church in the capital Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in the Negombo, about 30 kilometers from the capital, and Zions Church in Batticaloa, about 250 kilometers east of Colombo. Easter church services were taking place in the churches. There were also explosions in the 5-star hotels Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury in Colombio. There should also have been injured foreigners. Later, a seventh explosion was reported in a small hotel in a suburb of Colombo, with two dead. An eighth explosion occurred in the afternoon in a residential area in Dematagoda, another suburb of Colombo.
The explosions took place almost at the same time – after first reports within half an hour. The first one was reported from the church in Colombo, the rest all within just 30 minutes.
The authorities initially did not speak of an act of terrorism. President Maithripala Sirisena spoke of “attacks”. The armed forces and the police would investigate the “conspiracy”.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces held an emergency meeting with several ministers, as Minister Harsha de Silva wrote on Twitter. In a church in Colombo, there were “terrible scenes”. It was littered with body parts.
A 20-year-old tourist from Denmark, who has been staying with three friends in a hotel in Colombo, told Danish radio about the explosion in St. Anthony’s Church: “There was chaos in the streets, with people and ambulances everywhere. Many of the locals showed down the street and said there had been an explosion and many were dead. “
Only about seven percent of Sri Lanka’s population is Christian. The majority are Buddhists. Every year, tens of thousands of Germans travel to ancient Ceylon. The island state of the size of Bavaria has a good 20 million inhabitants. In addition to tropical beaches, it offers several UNESCO World Heritage sites, six cultural monuments and two natural monuments.
The Federal Foreign Office updated its travel advice shortly after the attacks. “Travelers are being asked to stay away from the point of attack, to persecute the local media, to stay in close contact with tour operators and airlines, and to follow orders from security forces,” wrote the ministry. The situation was confusing. “With extensive security measures such as barriers, but also restrictions on air traffic and increased checks before entering the airport building and the departure is expected.” The airport company called on travelers to arrive at least four hours earlier before departure on site.
According to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the German Embassy in Sri Lanka is in contact with the local authorities and is working hard to clarify whether Germans are also affected. The Foreign Office set up a crisis team. Concerned relatives can call 030-50000.