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Several Americans among 290 killed in Sri Lanka blasts

Updated April 21, 2019 - 11:47 pm

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The Latest on explosions in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

A Sri Lankan government forensic crime analyst tells The Associated Press that the six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in and around Colombo on Easter Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.

The government analyst Ariyananda Welianga says an analysis of the attackers’ body parts collected from the scenes shows that the attacks were suicide bombings.

Welianga says two people were involved in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel. One bomber each attacked the Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels and St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s church in the city of Negombo and Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa.

Two bombings hours later at a guesthouse and near an overpass on the outskirts of Colombo are still under investigation. Suspects detonated explosives at a safe house near the overpass blast, killing three officers.

All told, more than 200 people were killed and 500 wounded in the nine attacks.


11 a.m.

A second Chinese citizen has been confirmed killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka.

Xinhua news agency cited the Chinese Embassy in Colombo as confirming the fatality. The report said the number of injuries among Chinese was still being confirmed. The United States, Britain, India and other countries have also confirmed their citizens were among the 290 dead.

China has extensive business ties with Sri Lanka and is sending growing numbers of business people, tourists and workers to the island.

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have sent condolences and said they firmly support the Sri Lankan government’s effort to maintain security and stability, according to Xinhua.


10:45 a.m.

A Sri Lanka military spokesman says that an explosive device was found and defused late Easter Sunday on an access road to the international airport near Colombo.

The discovery came after nine bomb attacks shook Colombo and its outskirts, targeting churches where worshippers were celebrating Easter, luxury hotels frequented by tourists and other sites.

Air Force Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said Monday that authorities found a “homemade” pipe bomb filled with 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of explosives Sunday night in Andiambalama, near the airport.

It’s not clear what kind of detonation method or target was planned, but Seneviratne said the bomb was large enough to have caused damage to a 400-meter (400-yard) radius.

Sunday’s bombings killed 290 people and wounded about 500 more.


9 a.m.

The United Nations secretary-general is expressing condolences over the Sri Lankan bombings on Easter Sunday.

The statement issued by spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was outraged by the terrorist attacks on churches and hotels on a “sacred day for Christians around the world” and hoped the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.

He said Sri Lanka had the support and solidarity of the United Nations in its difficult moment.

The bombings killed 290 people and were Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago.


8:40 a.m.

Police say the death toll from the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka has increased to 290.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Monday more than 500 people had been wounded.

The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago.


8:30 a.m.

Indian officials say five Indians were killed in Sunday’s Sri Lanka bombings.

The external affairs minister and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka identified the five victims in a series of tweets.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke to Sri Lankan leaders and condemned the blasts. Modi tweeted, “There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lankan authorities have said at least 27 of the more than 200 dead were foreigners. The United States said several were Americans but didn’t give a figure. Japan has confirmed one dead. Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry says one Portuguese, two Turkish nationals, three British nationals and two holding U.S. and British nationalities were among the dead.


8 a.m.

Sri Lankan authorities have lifted a curfew that was in place overnight following Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 200 people.

The streets in the capital, Colombo, were largely deserted Monday morning, with most shops closed and a heavy deployment of soldiers and police. Stunned clergy and onlookers gathered at St. Anthony’s Shrine, looking past the soldiers to the damaged church that was targeted in one of the blasts.

The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago. Police the death toll, which was 207 late Sunday, had risen overnight but the figure wasn’t immediately released.


7:30 a.m.

Police in Sri Lanka say the investigation into the Easter Sunday bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence.

The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday the death toll, which was 207 late Sunday, had risen overnight but the figure wasn’t immediately released.

Two government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Monday that the Criminal Investigation Department investigating the blasts will look into the reports.

Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena previously described the blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.


5 a.m.

Japan is confirming one of its citizens was killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and at least four were wounded.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono offered his condolences to all the victims of the attacks and expressed Japan’s commitment in “combatting terrorism” and solidarity with Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s defense minister has blamed the attacks on religious extremists but no group has yet claimed responsibility.

Japan also issued a safety warning, telling Japanese people in Sri Lanka to avoid churches, mosques, public places like malls and nightclubs, and government offices related to public security.

Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry has said at least 27 foreigners were among the more than 200 people killed. Other foreign victims were confirmed from the United States, Britain, China and Portugal. The nine bombings Sunday was the deadliest violence in the South Asian island country since the end of the civil war in 2009.


11:45 p.m.

A group that monitors internet censorship says Sri Lankan authorities have blocked most social media services in the country following attacks that killed more than 200 people on Easter Sunday.

The NetBlocks observatory says it detected an intentional nationwide blackout of popular services including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Sri Lankan officials said Sunday they are temporarily blocking social media to curtail the spread of false information and ease tensions until their investigation is concluded.

NetBlocks director Alp Toker says such post-attack shutdowns are often ineffective and can end up creating an information vacuum that’s easily exploited. The group says the country is also blocking messaging apps.

Facebook says in a statement that people rely on its services to communicate with loved ones and it’s committing to maintaining service in the country.

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