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Sri Lanka News Alert

Sri Lanka: Controlled explosion reported in Colombo April 24 /update 12

Police reportedly detonate explosive device in southern Colombo on April 24; death toll from April 21 bombings rises to 359

24 Apr 05:33 AM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 4/24/2019, 12:00 AM until 4/30/2019, 11:59 PM (Asia/Colombo). COUNTRY/REGION Sri Lanka, Colombo, Bandaranaike International Airport
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Event

Security forces reportedly conducted a controlled explosion in southern Colombo in the late morning (local time) of Wednesday, April 24. Police reportedly discovered and safely detonated an explosive device in a scooter near the Savoy Cinema. Security operations have been ongoing since Sunday, April 21, following a series of bombings that killed at least 359 people and left around 500 others wounded. More than 100 people have been detained in connection to the attacks, according to the deputy defense minister. Heightened security measures, including possible curfews, road closures, checkpoints, increased deployment of security personnel, and additional arrests and detentions, are likely in the coming days. Social media platform disruptions remain in effect and may continue in the near term.

The government declared a state of emergency on Monday, April 22, in response to the bombings. 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 is asking passengers to arrive at least four hours before their flights as a precaution.

Context

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.

Curfews have been implemented nightly since Sunday and the government blocked access to social media platforms and messaging services, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, and Snapchat.

Authorities have blamed local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath for the attacks, claiming that the group planned the bombing with assistance from an international terrorist organization. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack via its media arm on Tuesday, April 23.

Advice

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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