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22 Apr 2019 | 04:06 PM UTC

Sri Lanka: Emergency declared as bombings’ death toll nears 300 April 22 /update 11

Sri Lanka News Alert

Sri Lankan president declares state of emergency, in effect from midnight (local time) on April 22, as death toll from coordinated Easter Sunday bombings nears 300; National Thowheeth Jama’ath blamed for attacks

TIMEFRAME expected from 4/22/2019, 12:00 AM until 4/29/2019, 11:59 PM (Asia/Colombo). COUNTRY/REGION Sri Lanka, Colombo, Negombo, Batticaloa, Bandaranaike International Airport

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The office of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has announced that a nationwide state of emergency will be implemented from midnight (local time) on Monday, April 22, following a series of coordinated bombings targeting churches and hotels on Easter Sunday (April 21) that killed at least 290 people and wounded over 500 others. The state of emergency will reportedly authorize the military to arrest and interrogate individuals suspected of involvement in the attacks without court orders. Authorities have already arrested some 24 people in connection with the coordinated bombings and have blamed local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath for the attacks, claiming that the group planned the bombings with assistance from an international terrorist organization. Sri Lanka will observe a national day of mourning for the victims of the attacks on Tuesday, April 23. Reprisal sectarian attacks cannot be ruled out in the coming days and weeks.

A dawn-to-dusk curfew remains in effect in Colombo from Monday evening through Tuesday morning (from 20:00 to 04:00). Various social media platforms and messaging services, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, and Snapchat, also remained blocked for a second consecutive day on Monday; government officials have claimed that the blockages are temporary measures implemented to ease tensions and curb the spread of misinformation.

Heightened security measures - including the deployment of armed security forces and the implementation of additional checkpoints, increased screening measures at airports, further telecommunications restrictions, and additional curfews - are to be expected over the coming days. Flights are reportedly operating at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), though significant delays are possible over the near term. SriLankan Airlines has reported that access to the airport is still possible during curfew hours, though flight tickets and passports will be required at police checkpoints.


A series of coordinated bombings struck Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (April 21) beginning at approximately 08:45, killing at least 290 people, including at least 39 foreign nationals, and wounding over 500 others. In Colombo, devices detonated at St. Anthony's Shrine, the Shangri La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, and the Kingsbury Hotel. St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo and the Zion Church in Batticaloa were also targeted in the attacks, as well as the Tropic Inn in Dehiwala. Churches were full on Sunday morning as Christians gathered to celebrate Easter.

An explosion also killed three police officers on Sunday during a raid on a private residence in Colombo. Another three bombs detonated in a parked van as police attempted to defuse them near St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on Monday, April 22; no casualties were immediately reported. Some 87 bomb detonators were also reportedly found at Colombo's main bus station.


Individuals in Sri Lanka, particularly the abovementioned areas, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, anticipate heightened security measures and limited telecommunications access, avoid all blast areas as a precaution, report any suspicious behavior or objects to the police, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities (e.g. checkpoints, curfews, etc.) and their home governments. Travelers flying to or from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) are advised to anticipate a heightened security presence and possible delays and budget additional time to pass through security checkpoints.


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