Sri Lanka bombings: Government Blames It on Local Islamist - eritvnews

Sri Lanka bombings: Government Blames It on Local Islamist

Soldiers in front of church in Negombo (Reuters/Stringer)The Sri Lankan government says a local Islamist group is behind a series of bomb attacks. The blasts on Sunday across the country killed hundreds and injured many more.

 

Sri Lankan government officials on Monday said a local militant group called National Thowfeek Jamaath carried out multiple suicide bomb attacks the previous day in which 290 people died.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told a news conference that all the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but that the group likely had foreign links. Earlier, a government forensic crime investigator said an examination of the attackers' body parts showed that they were suicide bombers.

The attacks, which targeted Christian churches and hotels popular with foreigners, amounted to the deadliest violence to hit Sri Lanka since a civil war ended 10 years ago. More than 500 people were injured in the blasts.

Police said earlier they had arrested 13 Sri Lankan citizens in connection with the attacks.

Hundreds dead in series of Sri Lanka bomb attacks
Curfew in Colombo

Earlier on Monday, authorities lifted an overnight curfew and said that they had defused an improvised bomb at the international airport in the capital, Colombo.

Authorities have now ordered a second curfew in Colombo that is to run from 8 p.m. local time (1430 UTC) Monday to 4 a.m. (2230 UTC) on Tuesday.

Officials will look into possible intelligence failures, the government said, amid reports that security services ignored warnings of an imminent attack against churches.

At least 27 foreigners, including citizens from the United States, Japan, Australia and India, died in the blasts.

Germany's Foreign Ministry said it was "working urgently" to find out if any German citizens were killed or wounded.

Fears of sectarian violence

The attacks have raised fears of a resurgence of the communal violence that has often plagued the island. Police reported late on Sunday that a mosque in the northwest had suffered a petrol-bomb attack and that two Muslim-owned shops in the west were targeted by arsonists.

Top Muslim leaders have condemned Sunday's church and hotel attacks, describing them as "dastardly acts" that deserved "maximum punishment."

"On behalf of the Sri Lankan Muslim community, we offer our condolences to the people of Christian faith and extend our hands of friendship in solidarity," said the All Ceylon Jamiyyathuul Ulama, or council of Muslim theologians.

Social media blackout

Sri Lankan authorities blocked Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram services on Monday, citing the spread of "false news reports" on the various platforms regarding the Easter Sunday attacks.

Authorities said the blackout would be held until an investigation into the blasts is concluded.

The NetBlocks observatory also reported an intentional blackout of other platforms, including YouTube, Snapchat and Viber. Twitter, however, was not affected.

The move was not the first for the Sri Lankan government, which had previously imposed a weeklong social media ban in March 2018 out of concern that WhatsApp and other platforms were being used to fan anti-Muslim violence in the country's central region.

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