Sunday, 21 April 2019

Barbaric attack targets Christians and Tourists in Sri Lanka

Shangri La Hotel                                  Photo AFP
More than 207 people have been killed and over 450 injured in a wave of explosions that have rocked through in Sri Lanka.

There were eight blasts deliberately targeting Christians at three Churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district during Easter services. The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and The Cinnamon Grand hotels as well as one other, all in the capital, were also targeted.

According to an official at the foreign ministry, at least 27 of the fatalities have been foreign nationals and that number is likely to increase in the coming hours.are among the dead.

The Sri Lankan government has blocked social media networks from operating and have instigated a nationwide curfew as the country reels from the devastating attacks.  Officlas have also said that 7 people have been arrested over the bombings, yet so far, no group has claimed responsibility for the explosions. 

According to local media reports, the first explosions came around 0845 local time - with six blasts taking place in close succession at the churches and luxury hotels.  A seventh explosion occurred later near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo. An eighth explosion was reported near the Colombo district of Dematagoda.

Photo Getty
Unconfirmed local reports seem to indicate the bombers targeted the restaurants at the hotels to ensure mass casualties as guests enjoyed breakfasts. Cinnamon Hotels confirmed the restaurant at its hotel in Colombo was attacked, "It is with deep regret that we wish to inform that an explosion occurred in a restaurant located on the ground floor of the Cinnamon Grand Colombo earlier today." a spokesperson stated, "Medical evacuation was activated immediately for the injured.  The area has been isolated for investigations and security clearance."

Another of the hotels targeted, The Shangri La Hotel Colombo issued the following statement, "At approximately 09:05am local time, an explosion took place in Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo’s Table One Restaurant - one of several locations in Colombo which were affected by this morning's attacks.

We are deeply saddened and shocked by the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the casualties and those who have been affected. We are working closely with local authorities and emergency services to provide our fullest assistance and support to the affected staff and guests.

Our immediate priority is to look after the safety and wellbeing of all involved. A Shangri-La crisis management team has been activated to provide all necessary support.  As this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further at this stage. We will provide an update once more information is available."

Kingsbury Hotel         Photo AFP
The majority of those killed are understood to be Sri Lankans, its also known that at least five Britons, including two with joint US citizenship, are among the dead. One Dutch national, two Turkish nationals and two Danish citizens are believed to have been killed.  

James Dauris, The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, confirmed he had been in touch with some of the UK citizens in hospital "who have been affected by today's senseless attacks". 

The Foreign Office has directed British citizens to two helplines:
Those in Sri Lanka and can call the Embassy in Colombo: +94 11 5390639
Those in the UK who are concerned for British friends or family in Sri Lanka can call: 020 7008 1500

Police and the military have stepped up security at key government buildings and at the airport in Colombo where extra searches and procedures will take place, passengers travelling have been advised to arrive at least four hours prior to their flights. 

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