Sri Lanka Accuses Local Islamist Movement in Attacks

The Sri Lankan government accused Monday a local Islamist movement, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), in the wave of suicide bombings of the previous day whose record has increased to 290 dead.

While the attacks had still not been claimed, the presidency declared a state of emergency from Monday midnight (1830 GMT) in the name of “public safety”.

In a few hours this Easter Sunday, coordinated bombings have caused death in hotels and churches celebrating Mass in many places on the South Asian island, which had not seen such an outburst of violence. violence since the end of the civil war ten years ago.

While naming the NJT, the government spokesman said it was “hard to see how a small organization in this country can do all this”.

“We are investigating possible foreign aid and their other links, how they train suicide bombers, how they produced these bombs,” he added.

The NJT made itself known last year in connection with acts of vandalism against Buddhist statues. He had also been alerted 10 days ago by the police that he was planning suicide attacks on churches and the Indian embassy in Colombo.

The Sri Lankan authorities have announced the arrest of 24 people, without giving details of the suspects.

President Maithripala Sirisena presided on Monday a security council on his return to the country of 21 million inhabitants.

The official record has risen Monday morning to 290 dead and 500 injured.

The exact number of foreigners killed “is difficult to determine. Around 37 died, of which 11 were identified “; said the authorities.

Indians, Portuguese, Turks, Britons and Americans are among the nationalities affected.

Monday morning, the morgue of Colombo was the scene of scenes of desolation. “The situation is unprecedented,” said one official on condition of anonymity. “We are asking relatives to provide DNA to help identify some ‘too mutilated’ bodies.

A woman whose older brother was killed with her three children, broke down in tears by identifying them one by one on a screen. The youngest of his nephews was “such a cute baby, he was only eight months old (…). What did he do to deserve that? ”

In Negombo, a town some thirty kilometers north of Colombo, the Dilip Fernando had returned to San Sebastián Church, where he and his family narrowly escaped the carnage provoked by one of the suicide attacks on the Christian minority. .

 

Dozens of pairs of shoes belonging to the victims were gathered on the ground in front of the building.

Inside, tiles falling from the roof were mixed with debris on the floor. The walls and religious statues were riddled with splinters.

In the streets of the country, life seemed to resume a normal course. People came to the office by car or motorbike, tuk-tuk crisscrossed the streets.

Six very close explosions occurred Sunday morning and two hours later, in this popular country of tourists for its idyllic beaches and its green nature.

In the capital, three luxury beachfront hotels – Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Shangri-La and Kingsbury – and St. Anthony’s Church were hit.

Bombs also exploded in the San Sebastian church in Negombo and another in Batticaloa, a town on the other side of Sri Lanka, on the east coast.

A few hours later, two more explosions occurred. One in a hotel in Dehiwala, a southern suburb of Colombo, the other in Orugodawatta, in the north of the city, where a suicide bomber blew himself up during a police operation.

Sunday night, a “homemade bomb” was defused on a road leading to the main terminal of Colombo airport which remains open under high security.

From the Vatican to the United States to India, the international condemnations were unanimous.

About 1.2 million Catholics live in Sri Lanka where Christians make up 7% of the population, mostly Buddhist (70%). The country also has 12% Hindu and 10% Muslims.

Foreign embassies in Sri Lanka have recommended that their nationals avoid non-imperative travel. The United States believes that “terrorist groups continue to prepare possible attacks” in Sri Lanka, in their travel advice.

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The Sri Lankan government accused Monday a local Islamist movement, the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), in the wave of suicide bombings of the previous day whose record has increased to 290 dead.

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