Here's What to Know About the Easter Sunday Blasts in Sri Lanka
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pictures were not taken by MLWA 7 but are from the BBC and TIME
Here are some answers for some questions you may have about the recent Easter Day bombing in Sri Lanka, in Asia.
What are the casualty figures?
Officials in Sri Lanka say at least 207 people have been killed, according to the Associated Press, and 450 have been wounded. The BBC reports that several foreign nationals are among the dead. According to AFP, as many as 35 foreigners may have died.
China’s state media says one victim was a Chinese citizen and Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affair has said a Portuguese citizen died in the attack, according to the AP. Additionally, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok conf confirmed on Twitter that one victim was a Dutch citizen.
Where did the explosions take place?
Four explosions took place in Colombo, one at St. Anthony’s Shrine and three at hotels, reported by the BBC to be the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels. The Cinnamon Grand is near the official residence of Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
AP reports that explosions also occurred in St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a town north of Colombo that is home to many Catholics, and in the eastern town of Batticaloa at the Zion Church.
AFP reported that a seventh blast took place at approximately 04:50 ET killing two more people. CNN reported that the blast occurred at a guest house in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, outside of Colombo.
Local media reported that an eight blast took place at around 05:10 ET at a housing project in Dematagoda, a suburb of Sri Lanka. A Reuters journalist in Colombo said three police officers were killed in the blast.
What have eyewitnesses said?
A priest at St. Sebastian’s Church told CNN that the ground there was covered in glass and rubble and shattered glass.
“You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said he had been at St Anthony’s Shrine, and described “Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over.”
One resident of Colombo tweeted that many Sri Lankans had arrived at the National Blood Centre to give blood donations. “It’s so overcrowded they cannot control the crowd. Currently they are sending back people who have come after taking down name, contact and blood group,” he said of the overwhelming response.
Sarita Marlou, whose Facebook page appears to indicate that she is a singer at the Shangri-La, was at the hotel when the blast happened. According to her Facebook post, the explosion was at the Table One restaurant on the third floor of the building.
“Felt the blast all the way up to the 17th floor where we were sleeping. Few minutes later, we were asked to evacuate the hotel. While running down the stairs, saw a lot of blood on the floor but we were still clueless as to what really happened,” she wrote.
“Only after we got out of the hotel that we knew about the unfortunate incident and that it also hit two other nearby hotels, Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury. Apparently, churches were bombed, too. What a tragic day for Sri Lanka indeed.”
What is known about the perpetrators?
An official told AP that two of the blasts were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers. Nobody has stepped forward to claim responsibility. Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena, told the AP that seven suspects were in custody. News agency AFP says it has seen documents that show that Sri Lankan police have been on the alertfor several days, fearing that suicide bombers from a local radical Muslim group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) were targeting prominent churches.
AFP also reported that Sri Lankan police seized a haul of explosives and detonators in January after arresting four men “from a newly formed radical Muslim group.” A number of Sri Lankan Muslims were known to have joined ISIS in Syria, according to Reuters.