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Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

The country remains in shock as the government investigates bombings that killed nearly 300 people.

By Associated Press and The Diplomat for
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans carry a dead body out of St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago.

Credit: AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan Police officer inspects a blast spot at the Shangri-la hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan police officers clear the road as an ambulance drives through carrying people injured in the church blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian’s Church damaged in blast in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Sebastian’s Church damaged in blast in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Lalitha weeps on the coffin with the remains of 12-year old niece, Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of the Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 22, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Navy soldiers stand guard in front of St. Anthony’s Shrine a day after the series of blasts, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 22, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan security forces stand at the site after a vehicle parked near St. Anthony’s Shrine exploded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 22, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Terror Strikes Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan woman living near St. Anthony’s Shrine runs for safety with her infant after police found explosive devices in a parked vehicle in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 22, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

April 21 was a bloody Sunday in Sri Lanka. A series of bombings killed at least 290 people, including at least 39 foreigners. About 500 others were wounded in the blasts. The attacks, timed for Sunday services on the Christian holiday of Easter, seemed designed to inflict the highest number of casualties possible on Sri Lanka’s minority Christian population.

According to the most recent statements from Sri Lanka’s government, on April 21 seven suicide bombers conducted near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa. One bomber each attacked the Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels and St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo; St. Sebastian’s Church in the city of Negombo; and Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa. Two attackers were involved in the explosions at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. All seven attackers were Sri Lankan citizens linked to the local militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath, a Sri Lankan government official said.

Fear continued to grip Sri Lanka as additional bombs were discovered over the next day. An explosive device was found and defused late Easter Sunday on an access road to the international airport near Colombo and on Monday police found three bombs inside a van parked outside St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo. The bombs in the van detonated while police attempted to defuse them, but no injuries were reported.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has given the military sweeping war-time powers to arrest and detain suspects following the Easter Sunday bombings. Sirisena’s office announced late Monday that the measure would take effect at midnight. In addition, a government curfew was to begin at 8 p.m.

On Monday, armed security personnel stood guard on street corners in central Colombo that were largely deserted, with most shops closed.