Eight serial blasts rocked Sri Lanka early on Sunday. The first six explosions hit three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo and other parts of the country, killing 187 people till now. Over 400 others have been injured in the blasts.
The first explosions were reported around 8 am. Around 2 pm as the country was still counting its dead,two more blasts were reported in Colombo, even as security was heightened across the country and army was called in.
The Sri Lankan government has declared a curfew with immediate effect. Social media and messaging services have also been suspended in the country following the latest round of explosions.
According to police, the dead include 35 foreigners. It is not yet known if any Indian was hurt or killed in the attack. Although no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, local media reports suggest suicide bombers could be behind the ghastly attack on Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home for later in the day. The Sri Lankan Army has deployed 200 troops to advert further damages.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”. Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat.
“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” said the alert. The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues.
Last year, there were 86 verified incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents more than 200 churches and other Christian organisations.