Easter Sunday attacks continue to terrorise Sri Lankans

2019-04-24 at 17:22

The nine explosions that rocked the country on Sunday continue to terrorize Sri Lankans for the fourth day, as several incidents reported in and around Colombo have affected the day to day activities of the citizens.

Controlled explosions were reported in Pettah, Wellawatte and in Katana while reports of a suspicious package forced an emergency evacuation at the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital.

However no injuries or casualties were reported following incidents reported during the course of the day.

The Bomb Disposal Squad has released several contact numbers for the public to provide information of any suspicious packages or vehicles.

Information can be provided on 0114 055 105, 0112 434 251, 0112 433 335 or on 0114 055 106.

A mobile number has also been provided 0766 911 604 to lodge any complaints.

According to latest figures the death toll in the Easter Sunday attacks has increased to 359.

The latest death toll was issued by Police Media Spokesman Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunasekara.

More than 500 people are believed to have been injured in the attacks on Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its report as of last evening said a total of 34 foreign nationals have died.

Nine blasts hit parts of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Sunday morning.

The attacks targeted the St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, the Katuwapitiya Church in Katana and the Zion Church in Batticaloa.

Three hotels, the Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri-La Colombo also came under terror attack killing several persons including tourists.

A major operation is underway with the assistance of the Police Special Task Force, the Criminal Investigations Department and other intelligence and security units in a bid to apprehend all suspects linked to Easter Sunday attacks in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.

Speaking to NewsRadio, Police sources confirmed, a total of 60 suspects have been arrested following Sunday’s nine expositions.

Twenty suspects were arrested by the Police Special Task Force in search operations carried out last night.

The government today reiterated that all those arrested over the suicide attacks on Easter Sunday are Sri Lankans.

State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene addressing a media briefing said nine suicide attacks were carried out with eight of them identified thus far.

He said the suspects are from various parts of the country stating that, all countries in the region are being looked at for potential areas where the suspects may have visited and received training.

The State Minister also confirmed that the blast in Dematagoda was a suicide attack carried out by a female.

State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene meanwhile discouraged the circulation of videos on social media claiming they grant undue publicity to extremist groups.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US government have also extended their support to Sri Lankan authorities in on-going investigations into the Easter Sunday Attacks.

When inquired by NewsRadio, US Embassy Spokesperson in Colombo Nancy VanHorn confirmed that the FBI and the US government have assured to cooperate with Sri Lankan authorities following Sunday’s bombings.

President Maithripala Sirisena has requested the Secretary of Defence Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara to resign immediately.

Sources confirming the move to NewsRadio said the President is expected to appoint a new Defence Secretary this evening.

President Maithripala Sirisena in an address to the nation last evening said foreign intelligence handed down to local intelligence officers, pertaining to a possible terrorist attack, was not shared with him.

The President said the attack on Sunday could have been prevented if information was shared when received.

Accordingly the Head of State said the security forces will undergo major restructuring within the next 24 hours.

A special Parliamentary debate was held today with emphasis given to how the country should move forward after the horrific incidents that were reported on Sunday.

Parliament convened at 10am under the auspices of Speaker of House Karu Jayasuriya.

Making a special statement Speaker Jayasuriya urged all Parliamentarians and Sri Lankans to be vigilant and united, and make current challenges a path to future success through unity.

United People’s Freedom Alliance Parliamentarian Dinesh Gunewardene says the present administration should be held responsible for Easter Sunday Attacks in which at least 359 persons have now been confirmed dead.

Speaking during the special debate in Parliament, MP Dinesh Gunewardene stressed, senior government officials failed to take action based on available intelligence reports of possible terror attacks.

MP Gunewardene also demanded the resignation of the government.

The Tamil National Alliance says Sunday’s act of fanatical fundamentalism must be condemned in the strongest possible way.

Speaking during the special debate in Parliament today, Leader of the TNA, Parliamentarian R Sampanthan said perpetrators of the attacks must be served with severe punishment and urged the government to duly compensate all victims of the attacks.

Leader of the TNA, Parliamentarian R Sampanthan said taking cosmetic actions to prevailing issues will not avert future attacks.

MP Sampanthan said Sri Lanka became an easy target due to internal divisions in the country.

The Spokesperson of the Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran says the public should not respond to perpetrators who acted out of hate with vengeance.

However MP Sumanthiran said it is the duty of the state to vigorously pursue the attackers and bring them to justice.

Speaking during the special debate in Parliament today TNA Spokesperson Sumanthiran asserted that the President should also be held responsible for the Easter Sunday Attacks.

The JVP has urged all parties to avoid politicising the Easter Sunday attacks.

Speaking in Parliament, Propaganda Secretary Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said all factions should set aside political and ideological differences and work according to a national agenda.

Former Commander of the Army Field Marshal Parliamentarian Sarath Fonseka says all governments that ruled the country over the past ten years should be held responsible for the present situation in Sri Lanka.

Speaking during the special debate in Parliament today Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka said in order to avert future attacks, the present defence structure must be revamped and urged the government to utilise available all security experts.

Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella says Sri Lanka must learn from the past and comprehend its mistakes.

Speaking in Parliament today Minister Kiriella remarked as to why intelligence officials remained silent until the attacks unfolded.

The Ministry of Education says steps will be taken to ensure the safety and security at all schools when they reopen for the second school term on Monday.

The Ministry in a statement said the Tri-Forces and the Police have been requested to ensure heightened security from the 29th of April.

The Ministry also called for school bus and van services and public transport to be inspected thoroughly.

The Ministry of Education said the support of parents and elders will also be sought in order to ensure security in school premises and surrounding areas.