Almost 300 Killed in Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka

Almost 300 Killed in Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka

Almost 300 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in a series of coordinated attacks that struck three churches and three hotels.

Almost 300 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in a series of coordinated attacks that struck three churches and three hotels.

On Monday, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said that the death toll had risen to 290, with more than 500 others wounded, the AP reported.

The explosions began as people gathered for Mass on Easter Sunday. In Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, bombings were reported at St. Anthony’s Shrine and three luxury hotels. Explosions were also reported at St. Sebastian’s Church and Zion Church.

Two other explosions were reported later as police searched for suspects in the attacks. An improvised explosive device was discovered and disposed of late Sunday near the country’s main airport, and on Monday, a blast occurred near a church in the capital as police attempted to defuse explosives in a vehicle the attackers used, according to the BBC.

Sri Lanka’s state news agency reported that Easter services scheduled for Sunday evening were canceled, and the government moved to block the use of social media sites in order to stop the spread of misinformation about the attacks. A curfew was put into effect, and armed security forces patrolled the streets in Colombo.

Security forces were installed at religious sites, and the president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, told defense officials to organize a national operations center for investigations.

According to the Associated Press, Sirisena gave the military “sweeping police powers” beginning Tuesday, including “a wider berth to detain and arrest suspects.”

The AP reported Monday that officials disclosed that intelligence agencies had given warning weeks ago about the possibility of an attack by the radical Muslim group now being blamed for the attack.

Health Minister Riajitha Senaratne said the intelligence agencies began issuing these warnings April 4, the defense ministry contacted the police chief with information including the group’s name, and police wrote to the heads of security of the judiciary and diplomatic security division on April 11.

It was unclear, according to the AP, what action, if any, was taken after officials were made aware of these threats.

The AP reported that no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but police said 13 suspected connected to the explosions have been arrested.

The attacks are Sri Lanka’s deadliest act of violence since the end of its 26-year civil war in 2009, the BBC said.

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