Bombings Across Sri Lanka Kill Nearly 300, Wound 500

St. Sebastian's Church // Photo by AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file via Newscred

Suicide bombings at three Catholic churches, three luxury hotels and additional sites shook Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday this weekend. A local police spokesperson says that the death toll has reached 290 and that an additional 500 people were injured, according to The New York Times. The bombings took place in Colombo (at least 82 dead), Negombo (at least 104 dead) and Batticaloa (at least 28 dead).

In Colombo, Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, The Kingsbury Colombo and Cinnamon Grand Hotel—all five-star hotels—were sites of bombings in addition to St. Anthony’s Shrine, a housing complex and Tropic Inn, a three-star property just outside of the city. In Negombo, one attack—the deadliest—took place at St. Sebastian’s Church; a pipe bomb at Bandaranaike International Airport was discovered and defused by the Sri Lankan Air Force. One attack was carried out in Batticaloa, which was at Zion Church.

“At approximately 9:05 a.m. local time, an explosion took place in Shangri-Lan Hotel, Colombo’s Table One café—one of several locations in Colombo, which were affected by [Sunday’s] attacks. We are deeply saddened and shocked by the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the casualties and those who have been affected,” read a statement by Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo. “We are working closely with local authorities and emergency service to provide our fullest assistance and support to the affected staff and guests. Our immediate priority is to look after the safety and wellbeing of all involved. A Shangri-La crisis management team has been activated to provice all necessary support. As this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further at this stage. We will provide an update once more information is available.”

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For guest-related inquiries, contact 603-2025-4619.

Cinnamon Grand Colombo writes, “It is with deep regret that we wish to inform that an explosion occurred at the Taprobane restaurant located on the ground floor of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, on the morning of Sunday, April 21, 2019. This was one of the several locations affected by the attacks around Colombo. Medical avacuation was activated immediately for the injured, and the area has been isolated for investigations and security clearance. Our current priority is to provide our fullest support to the affected guests and staff. We are working closely with the authorities and will provide further details when they become available.

For guest-related inquiries, contact 93-112-437-437.

Luxury Travel Advisor has reached out to The Kingsbury Colombo for comment but has not yet received a response.

In an update from The New York Times, Sri Lankan officials said that the coordinated bombings had been carried out by National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known radical Islamist group, with help from international militants. The report also says the Sri Lankan government acknowledged that 10 days prior, the police warned security officials of a possible threat to churches by the terrorist group; however, little was done to prevent the actions. CNN reports that the group responsible was inspired by ISIS and that at least four U.S. citizens have been killed. At least 39 tourists, in total, were killed in the bombings, John Amaratunga, the minister of tourism, wildlife and Christian religious affairs, said.

“I wish to assure the tourism industry that the government has taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of the public and all tourists who are in the country. The three armed forces along with the police have put in place a comprehensive security plan covering hotels, resorts and places of tourist interest,” Amaratunga said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department updated its Travel Advisory for Sri Lanka. The Level 2 advisory states “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.”  

To prevent the spread of misinformation or the inciting of more violence, the Sri Lankan government has shut down several social networking websites, such as Facebook and Instagram, while some are complaining of the inability to access messaging services like WhatsApp and Viber.

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