The island nation of Sri Lanka was rocked by 8 separate bomb blasts during Easter Sunday at churches, popular tourist hotels, and the suspects’ operation sites. As of writing, the death toll had risen to 290 accompanied by over 500 reported injuries.
The affected hotels are Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels, all located in the Colombo district. More details on the location are shown below, sourced from The Guardian.
Multiple reports clearly indicate the attacks were coordinated to incur a maximum number of casualties of churchgoers on Good Friday; and hotel customers during their breakfast, a similar strategy staged by the New Zealand attackers on mosques.
Most bombs at the six initial targeted locations originated from suicide bombers, while two others were said to be traps set by suspects when the police were raiding suspected sites, three hours after the planned attack.
The Sri Lankan government swiftly imposed a temporary ban on social media. Udaya Seneviratne, secretary to Sri Lanka’s president justified the decision, calling it an attempt to prevent incorrect information from spreading, but there was no news on when the ban will be lifted.
The religious demographic of Sri Lanka comprise of Buddhist (70.2%), followed by Hindus (12.6%), Muslims (9.7%), Catholics (6.1%), and then other Christians (1.4%).
It was a sudden attack, but fingers are pointing towards the on-going communal tension since the end of their civil war 10 years ago. Last year, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) verified 86 incidents of threatening discrimination and violence against Christians.
On April 11, Sri Lanka police officials had apparently issued advisory warning to church worshippers about potential suicide attacks. Sri Lankan deputy inspector general Priyalal Dassanayake suspects radical Islamist group called National Thoweeth Jama’ath as the culprit behind the attacks.
As the Sri Lankan officials’ gather their intelligence, there are currently 24 suspects under arrests.