Sri Lanka Blasts Toll Rises To 290, 24 Suspects Arrested

COLOMBO — The death toll on Monday sharply rose to 290 from a series of eight blasts on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka, police said.

More than 500 people were wounded in the blasts, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. The death toll overnight stood at 215.

Eight coordinated explosions targeted Easter worshippers and high end hotels popular with international guests.

The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.

Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury. Foreigners and locals who were injured in hotel blasts were admitted to the Colombo General Hospital.

The number of deaths have gone up to 290 with over 500 injured, Gunasekera said, adding that six Indians have been reported among the foreigners who had died.

Four of them died in the Colombo National Hospital while the bodies of two of them who succumbed to their injuries from the blast at the Shangri-La Hotel has been sent for further investigation, the National Hospital spokesperson said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police on Monday said 24 people were arrested and declined to give further details.

The government has said it will not disclose the details of the suspects involved in the attacks to prevent them from getting publicity.

“Don’t give extremists a voice. Don’t help to make them martyrs,” State Minister of defense Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters when asked for details of those in custody.

The blasts – one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history – shattered a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

Curfew lifted a day after Sri Lanka rocked with multiple blasts

 Sri Lanka on Monday lifted the curfew which was indefinitely imposed after the island nation was rocked with eight blasts targeting churches and hotels that killed over 290 people.

Sri Lankan government on Sunday imposed curfew with immediate effect after the blasts which was lifted at 6 am Monday morning, police said.

A string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 290 people, including three Indians, and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

Sri Lanka Air Force said it found an improvised explosives device along a road leading to the departure terminal at the Colombo international airport Sunday night. 

It was a crude six- foot pipe bomb that was found by the roadside, an air force spokesman said. 

We have removed it and safely defused it at an air force location, he added. 

Sri Lankan Airlines said there were disruptions to flights and has asked leaving passengers to report to the check in counters at least four hours prior to departure because of tight security checks at the International airport.


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