lanka, sunday, bombings, church

Sri Lanka bombing crackdown: 3 police killed in raid, several suspects in custody   -20%

Sri Lankan authorities have taken seven suspects into custody, who they believe may be connected with a series of bombings on Easter Sunday. Three police officers were reportedly killed in the raid.
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ISIS suspect gave advance warning of Sri Lanka bombings, source says   10%

Early warnings from India's intelligence services to Sri Lankan officials ahead of the Easter Sunday bombings were based on information gleaned from an ISIS suspect, CNN has learned.

Sri Lanka victims: Citizens of at least 12 countries killed   -30%

Sri Lankan authorities say at least 30 foreigners died in the attacks

Hong Kong issues red travel warning for Sri Lanka after bombings that killed at least 290   -8%

Hong Kong has issued a “red” travel alert warning its residents to avoid visiting Sri Lanka following Sunday’s wave of bombings at churches and hotels that killed at least 290.The advisory came as travel agencies mulled whether to cancel tours scheduled for next month as the South Asian country recovers from multiple attacks across Colombo and two other coastal cities.Some 35 travellers with three local tours were in Sri Lanka on Monday, with one group set to return to the city on Tuesday. The…

The Latest: Sri Lanka president dismisses security officials   25%

The Latest on the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka (all times local): 4:30 p.m. Sri Lanka's president has asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and the national police … Click to Continue »

Sri Lanka bombings evoke ghosts of past violence after decade of peace   -20%

A series of deadly bombings in Sri Lanka became one of the worst acts of violence the country has seen in over a decade. The last time such high profile attacks happened were during a protracted civil war with separatist militias.
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ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka bombings   -20%

The ISIS extremist group has claimed responsibility for coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka which killed 321 people and injured about 500 others, the group’s AMAQ news agency said on Tuesday. The

Death toll in Sri Lanka terror spree jumps to 290, about 500 wounded   -25%

At least 290 people were killed in a series of blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, updated casualty figures confirm. The government plans to hold a security council meeting to assess the threat level in the country.
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Sri Lanka bombings live: Bombings were retaliation for Christchurch, says defence minister   -20%

Family and friends have begun burying the victims of the Easter Sunday bombings which killed more than 320 people.

Sri Lanka attacks: Parliament falls silent in tribute to victims  

MPs observe a minute's silence in tribute to the victims of the Sri Lankan bombings on Easter Sunday.

Sri Lanka bombings: Syrian among 40 suspects held over blasts that killed 310, injured hundreds more   10%

Sri Lankans observed a national day of mourning on Tuesday as government and military sources confirmed they were holding a Syrian national in custody for questioning over the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels.“The terrorist investigation division of the police arrested a Syrian national following the attacks for interrogation,” one source said. Two other officials with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the detention. “He was arrested after interrogation of local suspects,” a…

Perth couple named among Sri Lanka dead, remembered by loved ones as 'kindred spirits'   -10%

A British doctor and a retired firefighter who were living in Australia have been named as two of the eight Britons killed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka.

Controlled explosion near cinema in Colombo, Sri Lanka as police discover suspicious bike   -5%

A bomb squad carried out a “controlled explosion” near a movie in Colombo, Sri Lanka after police discovered a "suspicious" scooter, while dealing with the aftermath of a series of bombings that killed 359 people.
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Donald Trump, Sri Lanka, N.B.A.: Your Wednesday Briefing  

Praying among the graves at a cemetery in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday.

Tablet interactive: Live coverage of the Sri Lanka bombings   13%

Join our live blog for news, reaction and analysis of the bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.

Terror in Sri Lanka podcast   16%

On Easter Sunday, explosions across Sri Lanka killed hundreds of people and wounded many more. As the country reels in shock, Michael Safi describes reporting in the aftermath. Plus: the Guardian’s chief political correspondent, Jessica Elgot, on what to expect from Brexit now parliament is back

On Easter Sunday, eight explosions killed more than 321 people in Sri Lanka, including 45 children, and left over 500 wounded. It was among the worst terrorist attacks worldwide since 9/11.

The Sri Lankan government has been criticised for a serious security lapse before the suicide bombings, after it was alerted that the terrorist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath was planning to attack churches, but failed to take action against them or pass on the warning. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombings, though as yet there is no evidence to back this up. Sri Lanka’s defence minister said it appeared the attacks were in retaliation for the recent mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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'He was gripping me tightly': Man says sorry after attacking woman on Melbourne beach  

A man who sexually assaulted a woman on a Melbourne beach on Easter Sunday said 'I’m sorry' as he walked away after the attack.

Travel insurance will not cover cancelled Sri Lanka holidays   4%

Policies would pay out only if Foreign Office warned against travel, though airlines and tour operators ‘will consider’ requests to postpone

Holidaymakers who want to postpone travel to Sri Lanka in the wake of the bomb attacks that killed 290 people will not be covered by their travel insurance. The UK Foreign Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka on Monday to include details of the nationwide curfew and pending state of emergency. However, the Guardian understands it is unlikely the FCO would issue a warning advising against all travel to Sri Lanka: such warnings area rare and usually region-specific.

Reflecting the increased threat, the FCO’s current advice states: “Security has been stepped up across the island and there are ongoing security operations. These may continue for a number of days and the situation remains dynamic. Please follow the advice of local security authorities, hotel security staff and your tour company. The airport is operating, but with increased security checks and long queues for taxi pick-ups.”

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Indian Coast Guard placed on high alert after Sri Lanka bombings   -20%

New Delhi has beefed up security and surveillance along its maritime borders, reportedly to catch any terrorists fleeing to India from neighboring Sri Lanka, where 290 people were killed in the series of attacks on Easter Sunday.
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Sri Lanka suicide bomber studied in UK and Australia, defence minister says  

One of the suspects in the Sri Lanka suicide bombings studied in the United Kingdom and Australia before carrying out the attacks, the state minister for defence has said.“We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and later did his postgraduate [studies] in Australia before coming back and settling in Sri Lanka,” Ruwan Wijewardene said at a media briefing on Wednesday.Wijewardene confirmed that many of the other bombers were from well-off backgrounds and had international…

U.S. believes there is ongoing terrorist plotting in Sri Lanka: envoy  

The United States had no prior knowledge of the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, but now believes there is ongoing terrorism plotting in the country, Washington's ambassador to Colombo said on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka's social media ban enters its second day   -4%

Sri Lanka's nationwide block on social media sites continued through a second day on Monday. The country's government took the drastic step on Sunday, citing "false news reports" it said were circulating online, after hundreds were killed in multiple attacks.

Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe discusses the Easter attacks   2%

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the deadly Easter Sunday attacks could unleash instability and he vowed to "vest all necessary powers with the defense forces" to act against those responsible in a press conference on Tuesday as Sri Lanka marked a day of national mourning for the victims of the attacks. The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence in a decade.

Official: Most Sri Lanka bombers were highly educated   21%

Many of the suicide bombers who killed more than 350 people in a series of coordinated Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were highly educated and came from well-off families, … Click to Continue »

Local militants had intl help in carrying out Easter Sunday attacks Sri Lankas health minister   -25%

An international network helped to perpetrate the bloody Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, the nation’s health minister said. The series of coordinated bombings killed 290 people and left hundreds injured.
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Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bomb attacks   -20%

Hundreds of people were killed or injured when a series of blasts hit luxury hotels and churches across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Messages of peace, hope and unity: religious leaders react to Sri Lanka attacks   -33%

The series of bloody attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday sent shockwaves throughout the world. Religious leaders from around the globe have reacted to the bombings, in which over 300 people were killed.

Sri Lanka, Iran, Trump: Your Tuesday Briefing  

Relatives lighting candles on Monday after the burial of three family members who died at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, during a bombing on Sunday.

What is the National Thowheeth Jamaath?  

The little-known Islamist extremist group is thought to have orchestrated the bombings in Sri Lanka and to have ties with outside groups.

7th explosion reported near Sri Lanka's largest city Colombo police  

A new explosion has been reported in Sri Lanka, following six blasts in churches and hotels earlier on Sunday, according to police. It hit in the Dehiwala suburb of Colombo, killing two people.
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Top Sri Lankan officials deliberately withheld intelligence on attacks: minister   -16%

Senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks on Sri Lanka, where a rash of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday killed at least 359 people, the leader of parliament said on Wednesday.

Asos billionaire loses three children in Sri Lanka attacks  

Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his family were visiting Sri Lanka, where three of his four children died.

After Easter bombings, Sri Lanka blocks social media   -20%

Sri Lanka has blocked Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram after Sunday's attacks left hundreds dead. The government fears the spread of inflammatory "false news reports" online could spur more violence.

Mandakini Gahlot reporting from Negombo, site of worst Sri Lanka terror attack  

FRANCE 24's Mandakini Gahlot reporting from Negombo, where mass burials of the victims of Sunday's terror attack took place Tuesday. Negombo's St. Sebatien church was crowded on Easter Sunday when it was targeted by militants. The government has enforced a state of national emergency to prevent further attacks.

Sri Lanka attacks: Who are National Thowheed Jamath?  

The hardline Islamist group has been blamed for the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka.

Whats Different About the Attacks in Sri Lanka   -11%

Sri Lanka has a bloody history marked by a brutal, nearly 30-year civil war. In recent years, it’s been mostly spared from violence, until Easter Sunday, when large-scale, apparently coordinated terrorist attacks on churches and hotels killed nearly 300 people.

The government blamed the attack on a little-known Islamist militant group, National Thowheed Jamath, which had gained notoriety in Sri Lanka for defacing four statues of the Buddha outside temples in Mawanella, a town in the country’s center, in December 2018. What investigators will now have to piece together is how the group’s capability skyrocketed from vandalism to a sophisticated, multipronged attack and, perhaps more important, why now.

Places of worship are soft targets, but the attacks Sunday suggested a level of complexity not seen since the civil war between the government and the separatist Tamil rebels that ended in 2009. The Tamil rebels pioneered modern suicide bombings, assassinated political leaders, and targeted civilians. But that conflict was also ethnic in nature: the majority Sinhala community versus the Tamil rebels. Since then, religious violence has been rare—and when it does erupt, it is typically restricted to Buddhist-Muslim tensions. That’s partly why the Easter assault by an obscure group on Christian places of worship is so surprising.

[Read: A horrific flashback in Sri Lanka]

“It doesn’t make sense,” C. Christine Fair, an expert on terrorism in South Asia and an associate professor at Georgetown University, told me. She said that National Thowheed Jamath had never attacked churches previously. Moreover, Sri Lanka has generally not seen tensions between Muslims, who make up 10 percent of the population, and Christians, who are about 7 percent. It’s far more likely, Fair said, that an outside group, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, based in the Indian subcontinent is involved in some way.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. The Sri Lankan government, which imposed a social media blackout after the attack, has blamed National Thowheed Jamath and arrested several people. Rajitha Senaratne, a spokesman for Sri Lanka’s cabinet, told reporters Monday that there “was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.” He did not elaborate, nor did he provide evidence.

Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist networks, noted on Twitter that coordinated attacks on chuches is, in fact, a hallmark of ISIS, which has carried out similar operations in Egypt and the Philippines. Although Islamist militancy has not been a big problem for Sri Lanka, ISIS has issued some of its statements in Tamil, a language spoken in the south of India and by Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamils. (Most of Sri Lanka’s Muslims are Tamil—though the country’s Tamil population is mostly Hindu.)

[Graeme Wood: Why Sri Lanka silenced social media]

It is not yet clear what, if any, links National Thowheed Jamath has with ISIS or other terrorist organizations. But jihadist groups have made successful inroads in parts of the world where they previously have had little influence, such as in the Philippines and Indonesia. They have used online propaganda to radicalize disaffected youth in Europe; have recruited from existing organizations, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Boko Haram in Nigeria; and have stepped into the security vacuum in places like Libya. Indeed, Sri Lanka acknowledged in 2016 that 32 Sri Lankan Muslims had joined ISIS, a tiny fraction of the country’s overall Muslim population, but significant enough for the country’s government to have taken notice. It is not known whether any of them has returned home.

Additionally, operations like the one in Sri Lanka require expertise and planning. Militants have to be radicalized, recruited, and trained to carry out an attack of that magnitude. This suggests the existence of safe houses, planning cells, and bomb-making equipment and materials—all hallmarks of a well-organized group. “You don’t roll out of bed and decide to martyr yourself in a suicide-bombing attack,” Bruce Hoffman, an expert on terrorism and a professor at Georgetown University, told me.

[Photos: Mourning and anguish after the devastating attacks in Sri Lanka]

In hindsight, an attack at this particular moment in Sri Lanka should not be a complete surprise. Tensions between the majority community and Muslims have risen since the civil war ended; political rivalries have hobbled governance; and in the aftermath of the bombings, it has emerged that there were warnings—several of them—about an impending attack.

“Postwar, the one community that was being scapegoated was the Muslim community,” Shobhana Xavier, an expert on global Islam in South Asia who is an assistant professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, told me, referring to the idea that Muslims had replaced Tamils as the distrusted minority. “There was a heightened sense of Islamophobia.”

That sentiment grew more acute, fanned mostly by misinformation spread via social media, and spilled over into violence in March 2018, when Buddhists attacked Muslim-owned businesses and places of worship. At least two Muslims were killed. Even during that period, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena reportedly did not communicate. The two men are bitter enemies whose rivalry pushed Sri Lanka into a constitutional crisis last year that was resolved only through the Supreme Court’s intervention.

[Read: When a country bans social media]

The multiple warnings about churches being targeted were ignored and didn’t make their way to Wickremesinghe. It’s unclear whether they weren’t delivered because of incompetence; because of his rivalry with Sirisena, who controls the police and the military; or because information was kept in bureaucratic silos. (Sri Lanka’s Muslim community also reportedly had warned authorities multiple times over the years about the group’s activities.)

While the search for answers continues, there have already been repercussions: Muslim fishermen in Batticaloa, in the east of the country, were attacked following the blasts. As Xavier told me, “If it does end up that this particular group” carried out the attack, “it could mean devastating days ahead for the country.”

'Live in our hearts forever': Australians among the victims of Sri Lanka bombings   -20%

Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter, Alexendria, are among nearly 300 killed in Sri Lanka by co-ordinated suicide bomber attacks which ripped through churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.

After the bombings, searching for sense in Sri Lanka  

In the wake of the Easter bombings, a reporter who covered the Sri Lankan civil war unpacks some pressing questions.

Explosion goes off as Sri Lankan police try to defuse bomb near Colombo church   10%

A van parked near a Sri Lankan church has exploded in Colombo on Monday, as bomb squad officials were trying to defuse a new bomb found by the site, police said.

Sri Lanka bombings retaliation for New Zealand mosques massacre minister  

The serial bombing of Christian churches and hotels in Sri Lanka may have been an act of retaliation for the gun rampage at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a Sri Lankan minister said citing the initial investigation.
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