Friday, 6th August 2021

Sri Lanka death toll 310, Indian count is 10

Colombo, April 23 (IANS): The death toll from a series of coordinated bomb attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday has risen to 310, including 10 Indians, police said on Tuesday.

Over 500 people were also injured in eight blasts targeting three luxury hotels and three churches across three Sri Lankan cities besides two other locations in Colombo, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said in a statement.

As an official mass funeral ceremony for the victims was held on Tuesday, a day of national mourning, the Indian High Commission here put the death toll for Indians at 10.

“Regret to confirm the deaths of two more Indian nationals, A. Maregowda and H. Puttaraju, in the blasts in Sri Lanka, taking the total number of Indian deaths in the tragedy to 10 as of now,” the mission tweeted.

They are among at least 32 foreigners killed in the bloodbath, the worst in Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war a decade ago. Another 30 foreigners were hospitalized, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kishu Gomes told Efe news.

Meanwhile, there was fresh panic in Colombo — the city remains on the edge — as police found a suspicious abandoned parcel at the Kollupetiya railway station in the city.

Sri Lankan health authorities said that autopsies were in their final stages.

Twenty-four people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, Gunaeskara said.

The government has blamed a local Islamist outfit, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), although it did not rule out links to foreign groups. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The US Embassy in Colombo released a travel advisory warning that terror groups may be planning further attacks in the country.

It identified tourist spaces, transport centres, markets, shopping malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, sporting and cultural events along with educational institutions and airports as potential target areas.

Sunday was the deadliest day in the country since the end of a civil war between Tamil Tigers and government forces which began in 1983 and ended in 2009.

There have been a number of attacks against religious minorities on the island in the past.

In 2018, the government declared a state of emergency after violence erupted between Muslims and the majority Sinhalese Buddhists leading to two deaths and dozens of arrests.

Christians make up around 7 per cent of the Sri Lankan population, with Buddhists accounting for approximately 70 per cent. Twelve per cent are Hindus and almost 10 per cent Muslims.


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