Sri Lanka attacks 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 spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said on Monday.

Thedeath toll overnight had stood at 207.

More than 500 people were wounded in the blasts, he added.

Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of those killed and wounded at each of the three churches and four hotels hit on Sunday attacks that marked the most significant violence since a bloody civil war ended 10 years ago.

Police have now arrested 24 people in connection with the blasts, Gunasekera added.

At least two of the eight attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police and other sources, and three policemen were killed when another suicide bomber detonated explosives during a raid on a house where suspects were.

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, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.

Bomb near Colombo main airport defused

In a related development, 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 Easter Sunday’s deadly bomb attacks.

“It was a homemade bomb, with explosives put into a pipe,” said the source.
Airforce spokesperson Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said the IED was believed to be locally manufactured.

The discovery came after devastating bomb blasts that ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.

“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.”

There were disruptions to flights, but Sri Lanka’s national carrier Sri Lankan has already asked leaving passengers to report to check-in counters at least four hours prior to departure because of tight security checks at the Bandaranaike International airport, AFP reported.

The apparently coordinated attacks were the deadliest to hit the country in the decade since the end of a bloody civil war that killed up to 100,000 people and evoked painful memories for many Sri Lankans.

Possible intel failures to be examined

Meanwhile, police say investigation into the bombings will examine reports of possible intelligence failures, according to The Associated Press.

Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando tweeted, “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.”

And Mano Ganeshan, the minister for national integration, said the security officers within his ministry had been warned by their division about the possibility two suicide bombers would target politicians.

Police spokesman Gunasekara said 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, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Wijewardena said most of the bombings were believed to have been suicide attacks.

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Top
%d bloggers like this: