Over 290 people were killed and nearly 500 injured in a series of blasts that shook Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Churches and luxury hotels were targeted in the deadliest incidents since the civil war ended a decade ago. As many as eight blasts occurred in and around the capital Colombo and in the eastern city of Batticaloa on Sunday morning, as large groups gathered at churches for Easter services.
Thirteen people have been arrested so far in connection with the blasts, police say. However, authorities have not yet released details on those held.
Here are the live updates for today:
Curfew lifted in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan authorities have lifted a curfew that was in place overnight, reports AP.
The streets in the capital, Colombo, were largely deserted Monday morning, with most shops closed and a heavy deployment of soldiers and police. Stunned clergy and onlookers gathered at St. Anthony’s Shrine, looking past the soldiers to the damaged church that was targeted in one of the blasts.
Soldiers armed with automatic weapons stood guard outside major hotels and the World Trade Centre in the business district, where the four hotels were targeted on Easter Sunday, according to a Reuters witness.
Scores of people who were stranded overnight at the main airport began making their way home as restrictions were lifted.
The government also blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp, making information hard to come by.
Death toll rises 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.
The death toll overnight had stood at 207. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of those killed and wounded at each of the three churches and four hotels hit on Sunday.
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019.
A government source said President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.
Police arrest 13 in connection with blasts
Sri Lankan police have arrested 13 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said Monday.
Authorities have not made public details on those held after Sunday’s attacks. But a police source told AFP the 13 were detained at two locations in and around Colombo.
Possible intel failures to be examined
Police in Sri Lanka say the investigation into the Easter Sunday bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday the death toll had risen overnight but the figure wasn’t immediately released.
Two government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday that the Criminal Investigation Department investigating the blasts will look into the reports.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena previously described the blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.
An improvised pipe bomb discovered close to Colombo’s main airport was successfully defused by the Sri Lanka airforce, police said.
A police source told AFP that a “homemade” pipe bomb had been found late Sunday on a road leading towards the main terminal, which remains open with heavy security after deadly attacks on churchs and hotels.
Airforce spokesperson Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said the IED was believed to be locally manufactured.