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Sri Lanka bombings: Intelligence blunder ahead of terror attack that killed more than 200
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Who was behind the Sri Lanka bombings? Everything we know so far about the Easter Sunday attacks
Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and four hotels killed 310 people and wounded around 500, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. The explosions, some of which officials said were suicide bomb attacks, led to an immediate clampdown, with the government declaring a curfew and blocking access to most major social media and messaging sites. What happened? The powerful blasts - six in quick succession and then two more hours later - wrought devastation, including at the capital's well-known St Anthony's Shrine, a historic Catholic Church. The three hotels hit in the initial attacks were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. pic gallery The first six explosions were all reported within a short period in the morning just as church services were starting. Hours later there were two further attacks in the outskirts of Colombo. Police the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. Who were the victims? The death toll rose to 310 on Tuesday after several people died of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said. There were hundreds of people injured in hospitals. There were eight British citizens killed in the attack, two of whom had dual US nationality. Ben Nicholson said his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, had been killed as they sat at a table for breakfast in the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday. "Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering," Mr Nicholson said.  Ben Nicholson (right) with the other members of his family who were killed  Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15, were having breakfast with their father Matthew at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel when the suicide bomber struck. Dr Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop were staying in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel when one of the seven suicide bombers struck. The Manchester couple had been living in the Australian city of Perth since 2013 where Dr Bradley was practising medicine, but were due to return to the UK soon. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she lost a relative in the attacks. "It is all so devastating," she wrote on Twitter. "Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka." The first American victim of the Sri Lanka terror attack has been named as 40-year-old Dieter Kowalski.  Mr Kowalski, from Denver, Colorado, checked into the luxury Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo just hours before it was targeted by the bombers.  Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. Three Indians, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals were killed, while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing. A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims. Read more about the victims.  Who was behind the attacks? A police spokesman said on Tuesday 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks. A Sri Lankan government official said the attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a domestic militant group named National Thowfeek Jamaath. There was no claim of responsibility on Monday. All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference. Earlier, Ariyananda Welianga, a government forensic crime investigator, said an analysis of the attackers' body parts made clear that they were suicide bombers. He said most of the attacks were carried out by a single bomber, with two at Colombo's Shangri-La Hotel. Documents seen by AFP show that Sri Lanka's police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches". "A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," the alert said. The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that was linked last year to the vandalism of Buddhist statues. Sri Lankan police were holding a Syrian national in custody for questioning, three government and military sources told Reuters on Tuesday. "The terrorist investigation division of the police arrested a Syrian national following the attacks for interrogation," a source said. Two other officials with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the detention. "He was arrested after interrogation of local suspects," a second source said. Key intelligence on a possible terrorist attack was not passed onto the Sri Lankan government weeks before the attack.  Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged late on Sunday that “information was there” about possible attacks, adding that “we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken.” How did Sri Lanka react? The government beefed up security and imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the country. It also put in place a "temporary" ban on social media platforms "in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread". Security at Colombo's airport was also enhanced, according to Sri Lankan Airlines, which advised its passengers to arrive four hours before their flights. It added that passengers with passports and tickets will be able to reach the airport during the curfew. he front page of a Sri Lankan newspaper, showing coverage of the Easter Sunday blasts, hangs at a newsstand in Colombo  Credit: AFP The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka's government to "mercilessly" punish those responsible "because only animals can behave like that." Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka also condemned the church attacks. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourned the loss of innocent people in the blasts by extremists who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups. The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama a body of Muslim clerics, said targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted. Embassies in Sri Lanka have warned their citizens to shelter in place. Here is a round-up of the world's reaction to the atrocity.
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Who were the Sri Lanka bombers? Everything we know so far about the Easter Sunday attacks
Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and four hotels killed 359 people and wounded hundreds more, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. The explosions, some of which officials said were suicide bomb attacks, led to an immediate clampdown, with the government declaring a curfew and blocking access to most major social media and messaging sites. What happened? The powerful blasts - six in quick succession and then two more hours later - wrought devastation, including at the capital's well-known St Anthony's Shrine, a historic Catholic Church. The three hotels hit in the initial attacks were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. pic gallery The first six explosions were all reported within a short period in the morning just as church services were starting. Hours later there were two further attacks in the outskirts of Colombo. Police the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. Who were the victims? The death toll rose to 359 on Wednesday after several people died of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said. There were hundreds of people injured in hospitals. There were eight British citizens killed in the attack, two of whom had dual US nationality. Ben Nicholson said his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, had been killed as they sat at a table for breakfast in the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday. "Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering," Mr Nicholson said.  Ben Nicholson (right) with the other members of his family who were killed  Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15, were having breakfast with their father Matthew at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel when the suicide bomber struck. Dr Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop were staying in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel when one of the seven suicide bombers struck. The Manchester couple had been living in the Australian city of Perth since 2013 where Dr Bradley was practising medicine, but were due to return to the UK soon. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Lorraine Campbell, 55, was staying at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo when it was targeted by suicide bombers during a series of co-ordinated attacks on Easter Sunday.  Ms Campbell, from Manchester, was in Sri Lanka on a business trip and was living in Dubai at the time of her death. Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she lost a relative in the attacks. "It is all so devastating," she wrote on Twitter. "Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka." The first American victim of the Sri Lanka terror attack has been named as 40-year-old Dieter Kowalski.  Mr Kowalski, from Denver, Colorado, checked into the luxury Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo just hours before it was targeted by the bombers.  Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. Three Indians, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals were killed, while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing. A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims. Read more about the victims.  Who was behind the attacks? Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. On Wednesday, junior defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaat and another group, which he identified only as "JMI." The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities remain unsure of the group's involvement, though authorities are investigating whether foreign militants advised, funded or guided the local bombers. All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference. Who were the attackers? Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed One of the masterminds behind the Sri Lanka suicide bombings, Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed lived in London and spent a year at Kingston University on an aerospace engineering course, The Telegraph can disclose. The Islamic State terrorist spent a year at the university in south west London in the academic year 2006 to 2007, according to well-placed sources, before travelling to Melbourne in Australia for a postgraduate course. Intelligence agents are now combing through connections made in the UK to examine whether he could have been radicalised in this country - and whether he could have been in contact with jihadists at that time. A group of men claiming to be the the Sri Lanka bomb attackers appear in an Isil propaganda video Jameel Mohamed is thought to have died in the blast at the Tropical Inn in Dehiwala, a suburb in Colombo, in a second wave of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday. Two people were killed when he detonated the bomb at the guesthouse near the zoo, five hours after the first wave. The former Kingston University student’s expertise in aerospace and mechanical engineering will inevitably raise questions over whether he could have been the chief bomb-maker involved in the operation. It may also explain why he was not involved in the first wave of attacks and that he acted after the net began closing in. Inshaf Ahamed Ibrahim Ibrahim, 33, blew himself up at the Cinnamon Grand just before 9am local time in a third-floor restaurant. He is believed to have been “brainwashed” by his radical younger brother, the Telegraph can disclose. Security services are understood to be examining his links to Britain after a source confirmed he had travelled to the UK frequently in recent years. Documents show that Inshaf was a successful businessman who acted as export director at his father’s spice firm, but also ran a copper factory. In 2016 he was pictured accepting a Presidential Export Award alongside his father at a ceremony in Colombo. Sri Lankan suicide bomber Inshaf Ahamad, pictured far right alongside his successful businessman father Mohamed Ibrahim in 2016 Credit: Daily News Neighbours said he was married to the daughter of a wealthy jeweller, drove upmarket cars and wore Western fashions. A source at the spice firm told the Telegraph that Inshaf had been “totally normal” until around three years ago, when he began to fall under the influence of his younger brother. Ilham Ibrahim The younger brother of Inshaf killed himself when he detonated a suicide bomb at the Shangri-La Hotel, also in the capital Colombo. As police raided their mansion, in an exclusive and wealthy part of Colombo, hours later, Ilham's pregnant wife Fatima also detonated a bomb, killing herself, her three children and three officers. Ilham Ibrahim The brothers belonged to one of the wealthiest Muslim families in the capital, with connections to the country's business and political elite. Their father is Mohamed Ibrahim, a prominent businessman who runs Colombo-based Ishana Exports, described on its website as the "largest exporter of spices from Sri Lanka since 2006."  Ilham, who was younger, was described as more aloof, awkward and more overtly religious.  “Ilham is one of the directors of the business but later he stopped being involved and only stayed at home," a source at the spice firm told the Telegraph. “He was the one who brainwashed Inshaf and took him to their group.” How did Sri Lanka react? The government beefed up security and imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the country. It also put in place a "temporary" ban on social media platforms "in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread". Security at Colombo's airport was also enhanced, according to Sri Lankan Airlines, which advised its passengers to arrive four hours before their flights. It added that passengers with passports and tickets will be able to reach the airport during the curfew. he front page of a Sri Lankan newspaper, showing coverage of the Easter Sunday blasts, hangs at a newsstand in Colombo  Credit: AFP The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka's government to "mercilessly" punish those responsible "because only animals can behave like that." Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka also condemned the church attacks. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourned the loss of innocent people in the blasts by extremists who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups. The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama a body of Muslim clerics, said targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted. Embassies in Sri Lanka have warned their citizens to shelter in place. Here is a round-up of the world's reaction to the atrocity.
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Sri Lanka bombings: Intelligence blunder ahead of terror attack that killed more than 200
Almost 300 killed - everything we know so far Victims: mother and son among five Britons killed in explosions Intelligence on threat not passed on to Sri Lankan government Reconstruction: How attacker waited at buffet before detonating  World leaders and cricket stars have reacted with horror Key intelligence on a possible terrorist attack was not passed onto the Sri Lankan government weeks before at least 290 people were killed in a wave of Easter Sunday suicide bombings on churches and five-star hotels.  Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged late on Sunday that “information was there” about possible attacks, adding that “we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken.” It was reported that information about potential suicide attacks had been passed by “foreign intelligence” to the Sri Lankan security agencies ten days earlier. The horrific death toll, which has risen dramatically overnight, was given on Monday morning by a police spokesman, who said a further 500 people had been wounded. The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Manisha Gunasekera, said eight British nationals were killed in the attacks, up from five previously thought. "As of now I think there is information on eight nationals who have lost their lives and the other numbers are of other nationals," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Members of a British family were killed while eating breakfast when six coordinated morning blasts targeted foreign and local guests at three hotels in the capital, Colombo, and Christians worshipping in three high profile churches across the country. Alex Nicholson, 11, and his mother, Anita, 42, were killed while dining at the second-floor restaurant in the Shangri La hotel. The schoolboy’s father, Ben, survived, while The Telegraph was unable to account for the whereabouts of the couple’s youngest daughter. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks As panic spread across the island, two further blasts occurred hours later at a smaller Colombo hotel and in a residential area during a security operation after the worst violence on the South Asian island since the end of its decades-long civil war in 2009.  The attack bore little similarity to the violence of the civil war, but had echoes of mass Islamist terror attacks around the world in recent years.  The Pope led international condemnation of the attack during his annual speech on what should be the most joyful moment on the Christian liturgical calendar.  "I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence," Pope Francis said.  pic gallery Sri Lankan authorities, who lifted a 12-hour curfew on the Indian Ocean island on Monday morning, have not said who staged the attacks and no group has claimed responsibility. Police said on Monday 24 people had been arrested.  Mr Wickremesinghe said the suspects’ names had been “local” but he added investigators were probing whether the attackers had any “overseas links.” He stressed the government’s first priority was to “apprehend the terrorists” and to “ensure that terrorism does not lift its head in Sri Lanka.” The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels, popular with foreign tourists, were targeted as guests sat down to enjoy their Sunday breakfast. Sri Lanka attacks - Locator map At the Cinnamon Grand, a hotel manager said the attacker waited patiently in a queue for the Easter Sunday breakfast buffet at the Taprobane restaurant before setting off explosives strapped to his back.   The man, who had checked in the night before, was carrying a plate and was about to be served when he unleashed his devastating bomb. "There was utter chaos," the manager told AFP. “It was 8:30 am and it was busy. It was families," he said. "One of our managers who was welcoming guests was among those killed instantly." The government ordered a social media blackout in Sri Lanka to prevent public panic from false rumours, but it also hampered efforts by friends and family to make contact with loved ones. A doctor at the Lady Ridgeway Children hospital in Colombo told the Telegraph that a number of children had arrived alone. “People have brought children who were injured…we are waiting for the parents to come,” he said. Nalini Somalatha said she was struggling to find news of her son Nalin, 25, who had gone to church with his Christian girlfriend. “I heard about the blasts and I called my son.. but there was no response,” said the desperate mother who later found out that Nalin’s girlfriend had died. Before the blackout, harrowing images had emerged from the aftermath of powerful bombs that blasted through the packed pews of St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa, and St Sebastian’s in Negombo, a city about 20 miles north of the capital. The explosions were so powerful that they blew out roof tiles, splintered wood and smashed altars and religious icons. Photos posted to social media in an appeal for help showed lifeless bodies strewn across the rubble. At St Anthony’s, where at least 160 parishioners were injured, eyewitnesses described a “river of blood” among the debris. The authorities have launched a massive security operation and schools will remain closed for two days. 9:45PM US Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg voices shock at the attacks The killings in Sri Lanka shock us all. Near and far we have seen, many times now, rising terrorism against foreigners and against minorities in worship. America must help lead the world in resisting all such deadly hatred.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) April 21, 2019   8:54PM Muslim US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar condemns attack As countless people attend Easter service today, our prayers are with the people of Sri Lanka who lost loved ones in these horrible attacks. No person, of any faith, should be fearful in their house of worship.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 21, 2019   8:34PM British mother and son among those killed in the blast A British mother and son were killed while eating breakfast at a five-star Sri Lankan hotel as a string of suicide bombs ripped through the country  Alex Nicholson, 11, his mother, Anita, 42, were killed while dining at the second-floor restaurant in the Shangri La hotel in the country’s capital, Colombo, on Sunday as it was gutted in one of several explosions which hit Sri Lanka. Anita Nicholson (right) who was killed along with her son Alex (left) in one of the eight bomb attacks that took place in Sri Lanka  The schoolboy’s father, Ben, survived, while The Telegraph was unable to account for the whereabouts of the couple’s youngest daughter. Mr Nicholson is not believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries and was seen at the capital’s Judicial Medical Office with his ear plastered. He was said to be left “completely in shock”. 8:08PM Witness describes 'panic mode' after blasts Bhanuka Harischandra has given a graphic account of the immediate aftermath of the blasts to Associated Press. He  was running a little late for his meeting Sunday. As a car carrying him pulled into the back entrance of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo, he realized something was wrong. People were telling him not to come in, it wasn't safe. Still, the car pulled around to the front of the hotel and Harischandra saw the aftermath of a bombing. People were being evacuated, others were being dragged. Blood and ambulances were everywhere. "It was panic mode," Harischandra, a 24-year-old founder of a tech marketing company, said by telephone later in the day. "I didn't process it for a while." He decided to go to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where he thought it would be safe. But just after he was dropped at the luxury hotel and about to enter the building, he heard another bomb go off. Locals and police gather at the Secon church Batticalova central road in Colombo, Sri Lanka Credit: M A Pushpa Kumara/Rex Now he was being evacuated. Soot and ash fell on his white sweat shirt. His car had left, so he hailed a motorized rickshaw and went to meet friends at a coffee shop. They contacted other friends, trying to make sure everyone they knew was safe. It was too soon to think about what it might mean. Over the course of the day, eight bombs exploded at churches and luxury hotels in and near Colombo, killing more than 200 people. The Easter Sunday violence was the deadliest the South Asian island country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago. Many Sri Lankans remember well the terror of the 26-year war. But not Harischandra, who was just a teenager when it officially ended. In the past years, conflict was far from Colombo. Growing up, he was mostly aware of his parents' anxiety about safety, not of actual fighting. Sri Lankan military stand guard inside a church after an explosion in Negombo Credit: Stringer/Reuters Now their anxiety is back. "For them, it's a bit of a different situation," he said. "They're afraid this might start racial violence." On Sunday night, he was with his family, observing a curfew. He said there was "a lot of tension" in the air, but he was also hoping that the worst might be over: It had been a few hours since the last blast. Harischandra was heartened by the fact that his social media feed was flooded with photos of the lines of people waiting to give blood. Lines so long "you can't see the end."  7:42PM Bomb found at Sri Lanka's main airport An Improvised Explosive Device has been detected in the vicinity of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) by the Air Force a short while ago, the Sri Lanka Sunday Times reports. "A PVC pipe which was six feet in length containing explosives in it was discovered," Air Force Spokesman Gihan Seneviratne said. He noted that the explosive device was discovered by Air Force personnel on a mobile patrol and was disposed by the Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit of the Air Force in a controlled area. 6:59PM Sri Lankan defence forces step up security at airports and critical infrastructure In light of the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, discussed with the MPS leadership the urgent measures to be jointly implemented to alleviate the security of the country's critical infrastructure. We will strengthen the security of airports & other vulnerable infrastructures. pic.twitter.com/qZZKPFiG3v— Chief of Defence Force MG.Abdulla Shamaal (@CDFofMNDF) April 21, 2019   6:27PM Suicide bombings indicate ‘influence of Hezbollah on Tamil Tigers’  Iain Overton, Action on Armed Violence's Executive Director and author of 'The Price of Paradise: how the suicide bomber shaped the modern world', travelled to Sri Lanka in 2018 to interview former Tamil Tiger fighters who had volunteered to be suicide bombers during Sri Lanka's bloody civil war (1983 – 2009). "We know that the Tamil Tigers were influenced directly by Hezbollah's use of suicide bombings in Lebanon", he  said.  Sri Lankan security forces secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images "The Tamil Tigers sent fighters to meet that Shi'a militant group to learn how to use suicide bombings in their own attacks on Sri Lanka's incumbent government, where 92% of such attacks were political or against members of the security forces." "What these recent bombings show, though, is how ISIS has influenced suicidal terror.  “Unlike the Tamil Tigers’ tactics, these strikes were explicitly at civilian targets - illustrating how toxic Salafist-jihadist justifications for attacking civilians have changed the focus of terror attacks worldwide.   A Pakistani Christian child looks on as adults light candles to pay tribute to Sri Lankan blasts victims Credit: Rizwan Tabassum/AFP “This targeting of civilians was first seen when Palestinian Sunni groups attacked buses in Israel.  Now it is ISIS inspired fighters attacking churches in Sri Lanka." "What is clear is that the defeat of ISIS in the field of battle in Iraq and Syria has not ended suicide bombings. In 2016, over 26 countries worldwide saw suicide attacks, as the globalised terror group struck again and again.   “Sri Lanka is a new field of atrocity for them; a country that - sadly - saw  at least 115 suicide bombings during its terrible civil war." "It is likely that more attacks of this terrible nature will happen again and again, as ISIS's claim that they 'love death more than we love life' finds meaning in the hearts of its followers." 5:56PM Foreign Office confirms British fatalities  The Foreign Office has confirmed that Britons are among those killed in the attacks. It is understood that at least five UK nationals were among the victims.  An FCO spokesperson said: "We can confirm that British nationals were among those killed in today’s horrific attacks in Sri Lanka.  “Our staff are supporting the relatives of the victims and are continuing to work with the relevant authorities to obtain further information. We extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones and all those affected by this senseless tragedy.” 5:39PM Mike Pompeo condemns attack  US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has issued a strong condemnation of the attacks. “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter morning. Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo Credit: Michael Reynolds/Rex “The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishes a quick recovery to all who were injured. While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several U.S. citizens were among those killed. "The U.S. Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families. “These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism. We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they confront violent extremism and have offered our assistance as they work to bring the perpetrators to justice.” 5:23PM Danish foreign minister calls for perpetrators to be caught Horrible attacks in Sri Lanka. Apparently religiously motivated - can never be accepted anywhere. My prayers go to the families of the victims. Perpetrators must be caught and prosecuted.— Anders Samuelsen (@anderssamuelsen) April 21, 2019 Anders Samuelsen, the country's foreign minister,  calls for the perpetrators to be caught and prosecuted as the officials confirm that three Danes are among the dead. 5:11PM Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan condemns attack  Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 21, 2019   5:08PM 'Several' US citizens killed - Pompeo US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed that a number of Americans were killed in the blast. In a statement he  said: "While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several US citizens were among those killed."  "The US Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families." The government of Turkey confirmed that two of its citizens were killed. There were named as Serhan Narici and Yigit Cavus, engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka. Denmark's foreign ministry said three Danish citizens were killed.  Earlier Sri Lankan authorities said three British nationals and two joint British and US citizens were killed.    4:53PM Authorities failed to act on intelligence - prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister of Sri Lanka, has promised an investigation into intelligence failures after it emerged information about possible terror attacks was not acted upon. Speaking in Colombo, he said intelligence had been received regarding a threat, but that it was not passed on to him or other ministers in the government.  He also said eight people have now been detained in connection with the attacks. He added that "so far the names that have come up are local," but that investigators would look into whether the attackers had any "overseas links". Prime Minister @RW_UNP says there appears to have been prior information about a possible attack. He was also not kept informed and it is one of the issues that must be looked into. "For now the priority is to apprehend the attackers" pic.twitter.com/hdm7dJ5zDK— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) April 21, 2019   4:30PM UN chief condemns "heinous" terror attack I condemn the heinous terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a sacred day for Christians. The UN stands in solidarity with Sri Lanka as the global community fights hatred and violent extremism together. Holy sites must be respected.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 21, 2019   4:27PM Reaction to the attacks from UK politicians I’m appalled by the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian calendar. I stand with the victims, their families, the people of Sri Lanka and Christians around the world. We must defeat this hatred with unity, love and respect.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 21, 2019 I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today. To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked. My prayers are with the victims and their families, and with those assisting in the response. https://t.co/a8UaOLFviv— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) April 21, 2019 As we wake to the horrific news from Sri Lanka, we are reminded this Easter Sunday that Christians around the world are still persecuted for their faith. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these evil attacks, their families and the people of Sri Lanka.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 21, 2019   4:10PM Muslim groups condemn attacks  Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka are condemning the attacks on churches and hotels.  The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka says it mourns the loss of innocent people in the blasts by extremists who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups. The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama a body of Muslim clerics, says targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted. Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 23 million. No one has claimed responsibility for what Sri Lankan officials have described as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. 4:08PM Thirty-two foreigners killed  The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Board says 32 foreign nationals have been confirmed killed. Earlier it was reported that 27 foreigners had died. The victims include five British citizens.  Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told reporters at a press conference that 208 have been killed and 450 injured from the eight explosions. 4:06PM FCO advice for concerned relatives The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka following this morning's attacks.  Here is the FCO's advice for anyone concerned about relatives or friends: If you are in Sri Lanka and have been directly affected by the attacks, please call the British High Commission in Colombo: +94 11 5390639, and select the emergency option from where you will be connected to one of our consular staff. If you’re in the UK and worried about British friends or family in Sri Lanka caught up in the incidents, please call the FCO switchboard number: 020 7008 1500 and follow the same steps. 3:44PM Five Britons confirmed killed  Sri Lanka's foreign ministry says the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. They include three Indians, one Portuguese national, two Turkish nationals, three British nationals and two holding U.S. and British nationalities. The statement also says nine foreigners are reported missing. A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims. 3:19PM Barack Obama calls blasts "an attack on humanity" The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 21, 2019   2:14PM Police inspect the damage in St Sebastian church  A police officer stands guard in Katuwapitiya St. Sebastian church in Negombo  Credit:  REX   2:04PM Several Britons in hospital UK High Commissioner James Dauris writes: I've been speaking this afternoon with Brits in hospital who have been affected by today's senseless attacks. My team's and my thoughts go out to all those people who are suffering as a result of the deplorable violence SriLanka has witnessed this Easter Sunday.— James Dauris (@JamesDauris) April 21, 2019   2:01PM Police injured in house raid Credit:  ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP This photo shows an injured Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldier being carried away by colleagues after a blast the occurred as security forces searched a property in the Orugodawatta area of the capital Colombo. Three police officers were killed in a house raid earlier.  1:58PM Justin Trudeau condemns 'horrific' attack Absolutely horrific news from Sri Lanka. Canada strongly condemns the heinous attacks on Christians at churches and hotels. Our hearts & thoughts are with the families & loved ones of those killed and all those injured.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 21, 2019   1:43PM Hotline for families of missing foreigners Foreign citizens concerned about family members in Sri Lanka can call this foreign minister hotline for information: +941122323015.  1:41PM One Dutch national killed The unnamed Dutch citizen is the first foreign national confirmed to have died. Earlier the foreign minister of Sri Lanka said 27 foreigners had been killed. It is believed that UK citizens are among the dead 1:35PM Church wrecked in bombing The aftermath of the bombing in Zion Church, in the eastern city of Batticaloa Credit: LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP   1:24PM Twenty-seven foreigners among the dead Sri Lanka's foreign minister says 27 foreigners have been confirmed dead and five still missing.  Heads of foreign diplomatic missions are being kept informed.  While the ministry said it would not publish the nationalities of the victims. Earlier James Dauris, Britain's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said some British citizens were caught in the blasts.  Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha just confirmed that 27 foreigners were among the dead. At least five still reported missing. Heads of foreign missionskept informed about the foreign casualties. Foreign Ministry will not release the nationalities of the casualties right now https://t.co/g8pKpRgskt— dharisha (@tingilye) April 21, 2019   1:16PM Celebrity chef among the dead Shantha Mayadume, a popular Sri Lankan television chef, and her daughter Nilanga Mayadume, were having an Easter breakfast at the Shangri-La-Hotel in Colombo when the building was attacked. Both were killed in the blast, local media report.  Ms Mayadume's cookery school and TV shows had made her a household name in Sri Lanka.  Popular chef and TV personality Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter have passed away in the attack carried out at Shangri-la, Colombo. Their family was reportedly having Easter breakfast at the hotel. SriLankaLkpic.twitter.com/73ztmeztmO— Kavinthan s (@Kavinthans) April 21, 2019   1:07PM Over 200 confirmed dead The latest casualty figures from the police: 207 killed, more than 450 injured.   12:53PM Sri Lanka special forces search for suspects More images from a house raid in Colombo captured by an AFP photographer earlier. The government says seven people have been detained so far and that a single group is probably responsible, but we don't yet have a name for the organization or a motive.  Credit:  ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP Credit: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP Credit: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP   12:47PM Nearly 200 people confirmed dead The death toll is climbing rapidly. Sri Lanka's deputy transport minister now says 190 people have died in the Easter Sunday blasts.  12:44PM British High Commissioner: get in touch with  family to let them know you are safe.   British High Commissioner James Dauris has posted this video update: Message from British High Commissioner on incidents in SriLanka. If you are a British National in Sri Lanka follow the advice of the local authorities and travel advice, updated here https://t.co/cxgzYCPU49 Our thoughts are with the innocent people who have suffered today pic.twitter.com/txgsv2I3yZ— UKinSriLanka???????? (@UKinSriLanka) April 21, 2019 12:40PM Police raid house in search of suspects  Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) personnel in gas masks are pictured outside a house during a raid  Credit: AFP/ISHARA S. KODIKARA  Images have emerged of armed police raiding a house in the Orugodawatta area of the capital Colombo in a search for suspects. Three police were killed in a house raid earlier today. 12:36PM Suicide bombers behind blasts Sri Lanka's defence and media minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, has been giving a few more details about the attacks.  He says authorities believe the bombings were suicide attacks carried out by a single group. It appears the three police personnel who died in Dematagoda were killed while pursuing suspects believed to be involved in the attacked, not in the bombing itself.  He adds that the government has made no decision about imposing a state of emergency as yet.  03 policemen - 1 SI and 2 constables killed during a raid in Dematagoda to arrest suspects behind EasterSunday attacks in lka. Police were pursuing the suspects: State minister for Defence @RWijewardene & defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando.— dharisha (@tingilye) April 21, 2019   12:28PM Suspects detained as death toll climbs to 160 The Sri Lankan government has said police have arrested seven people suspected of involvement in the attacks.  Meanwhile, the prime minister's office says the confirmed death toll has now reached 160 people.   12:12PM Three police officers killed Three police personnel are among the dead in the Mahawila Garden Housing Scheme explosion at Dematagoda, the Telegraph understands. Meanwhile, authorities have asked volunteers to stop showing up to donate blood because the banks are now full.  11:56AM Donald Trump: 'We stand ready to help!' Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more. We stand ready to help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2019 11:51AM Plane passengers can travel to airport during curfew SriLankan Airlines’ notice to passengers travelling during curfew ! pic.twitter.com/eg5cNTqeFt— SriLankan Airlines (@flysrilankan) April 21, 2019 11:50AM Merkel condemns 'religious hate and intolerance' German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the wave of bombings against Sri Lankan churches and tourist spots, urging that the "religious hate and intolerance that have showed themselves in such a terrible way today must not win". "It is shocking that people who gathered to celebrate Easter together were consciously targeted in this malicious attack," Merkel said in a condolence telegram published by a spokesman on Twitter. 11:47AM Government minister: culprits 'seem to be by those in the ring running from the law' Minister @RWijewardene addressing the press just now says action will be taken to stop activity of all extremist groups in the country. Social media temporary banned. 12 hour curfew from 6pm. The Dehiwela n Dematagoda blasts seem to be by those in the ring running from the law.— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) April 21, 2019 Press Release at MOD https://t.co/eNQB92pk2X— Ruwan Wijewardene (@RWijewardene) April 21, 2019 11:38AM Pope condemns Sri Lanka Easter attacks as 'such cruel violence' Pope Francis has condemned the attacks as "such cruel violence" and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter. "I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka," Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square to hear his Easter Sunday "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message. Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") message, in St. Peter's Square Credit: AP "I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence," said Francis, who visited Sri Lanka in 2015. "I entrust to the Lord those who have tragically died and I pray for the wounded and for all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event," he said. 11:37AM British High Commissioner confirms British casualties James Dauris, Britain's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said: "We understand that some British citizens were caught in the blasts but we are unable to say how many people are, or might have been, affected." 10:40AM Archbishop of Canterbury prays for Sri Lanka Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "Those affected by the appalling and despicable attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka will be in the prayers of millions marking Easter Sunday around the world today.  "On this holy day let us stand with the people of Sri Lanka in prayer, condolence and solidarity as we rejected all violence, all hatred and all division." 10:23AM Social media blackout The Sri Lankan government has blocked access to social media and messaging services with immediate effect, Reuters reports. 10:20AM Eighth bomb blast reported in Colombo An eighth bomb blast has hit the Sri Lankan capital, AFP report citing police. It is thought to have struck the suburb of Dematagoda The situation in the capital remains incredibly tense. The Sri Lankan government has just enforced a curfew with immediate effect. 10:01AM Archbishop of Colombo: Those responsible should be punished mercilessly The Archbishop of Colombo is calling for those responsible for the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka to be punished "mercilessly", AP reports. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called on Sri Lanka's government to launch a "very impartial strong inquiry" and to punish those found responsible "mercilessly because only animals can behave like that".  The series of blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels killed more than 150 people. It's the worst violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country's bloody civil war ended a decade ago. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was meeting top military officials and tweeted earlier that "the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation". 9:55AM Jeremy Corbyn: We must defeat this hatred with unity, love and respect I’m appalled by the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian calendar. I stand with the victims, their families, the people of Sri Lanka and Christians around the world. We must defeat this hatred with unity, love and respect.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 21, 2019 9:51AM Two reported dead in seventh bomb attack AFP reporting two people have been killed in the seventh bomb blast. 9:46AM Seventh bomb attack  Police state there has been a seventh bomb blast at a hotel in Dehiwela in the outskirts of Colombo, Reuters reports. 9:39AM Theresa May: Sri Lanka attacks are appalling Prime Minister Theresa May said: "The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. "We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear." 9:25AM Sri Lanka PM convenes National Security Council Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened Sri Lanka's top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following a series of Easter Sunday blasts. The official says at least two of the blasts were suspected to have been caused by suicide bombers. Earlier, Wickremesinghe tweeted that "the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation." 9:14AM 'Cowardly attacks' President Maithripala Sirisena said in an address that he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm, and the prime minister was expected to speak to the media shortly. On Twitter, Wickremesinghe wrote: "I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. "I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation." The hotels targeted in the attack are all popular destinations for tourists, among them the Cinnamon Grand, which is near the prime minister's official residence in Colombo. 9:10AM Modi: India stands in solidarity with Sri Lanka Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 21, 2019   9:06AM Pictures emerging of extent of damage Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo Credit: AFP An inside view of the St. Anthony's Shrine after the explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade Credit: Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images 9:02AM British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka condemns attacks The Easter Day service my family and I were at in Colombo today was cut short following explosions in churches and hotels. Our prayers for the victims of these evil attacks, and for their families. Our thoughts are with the medical staff, police and all involved in the response.— James Dauris (@JamesDauris) April 21, 2019   8:59AM Death toll in Sri Lanka blasts rises to 156, including 35 foreigners The death toll has risen to at least 156, including 35 foreigners, a police official told AFP. A hospital source said Americans, British and Dutch citizens were among those killed in the six blasts, which also injured hundreds of people. 8:45AM Jeremy Hunt: Targeting worshippers on Easter Sunday is "particularly wicked" Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was shocked by the attacks in Sri Lanka which have killed more than 100. He tweeted: "I'm deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today. "To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked. "My prayers are with the victims and their families, and with those assisting in the response." I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today. To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked. My prayers are with the victims and their families, and with those assisting in the response. https://t.co/a8UaOLFviv— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) 21 April 2019 8:33AM "Horrible scenes. I saw body parts strewn all over" A Sri Lankan politician has recalled the "horrible scenes" he witnessed as he travelled to one of the churches targeted in a series of explosions on Easter Sunday. Harsha de Silva, the country's minister of economic reforms and public distribution, said he visited Kochchikade church and the Shangri La in Kingsbury. He tweeted: "Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Emergency crews are at all locations in full force. We, at 1990 also have close to 20 units at the various locations. We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives." Mr de Silva added an emergency meeting had been called with the heads of the Sri Lankan army and airforce. Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Emergency crews are at all locations in full force. We, at 1990 also have close to 20 units at the various locations. We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives.— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) 21 April 2019 8:26AM Sri Lanka's PM condemns "cowardly" attack Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called upon the nation to unite as he condemned the "cowardly" Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels. He said the government was working to "contain the situation." In a tweet, he said: "I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today," he said in a tweet from his verified account. "I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong... The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation." I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) 21 April 2019 According to AFP, Sri Lanka's police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday's bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches". Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat. "A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," said the alert. The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalism of Buddhist statues. Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.
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