At least 500 wounded as South Asian nation reels from the attacks that targeted churches and hotels across the country.
A series of coordinated explosions has rocked churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killing almost 300 people on Easter Sunday in the South Asian island nation.
More than 500 people have been injured in the worst attack since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
The blasts targeted four hotels, including the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand in the capital Colombo.
Nearly all victims were Sri Lankan. Dozens of foreigners were also killed.
There were no claims of responsibility for the attacks.
Here are the latest updates:
Monday, April 22:
Health minister briefs nation after security meeting
Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne is holding a news conference in Colombo after the cabinet’s security meeting.
Senaratne said the country’s police chief wrote a letter on April 9 warning of possibile “acts of terror”. The police chief in the letter informed officials to “tighten security for VIPs”.
Seraratne said the cabinet only had access to reports of possible attacks after the assaults.
Retired Supreme Court judge to head investigation
President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a three member committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to investigate the Easter Sunday bombings.
‘Seven suicide bombers’ carried out church, hotel attacks
A Sri Lankan government forensic analyst told AP news agency that six of the bombings on the churches and hotels on Sunday were carried out by seven suicide bombers.
Death toll rises to 290: police
The death toll from the Easter Sunday explosions in Sri Lanka has risen to 290 with almost 500 people wounded, a police spokesperson said on Monday.
The police added that the investigation into the bombings will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence.
Authorities also lifted a curfew that was in place overnight following the bombings. The streets in the capital, Colombo, were largely deserted on Monday morning, with most shops closed and a heavy deployment of soldiers and police.
Police say they have now arrested at least 24 people in connection to Sunday’s bombings.
Police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said that the individuals arrested, all locals, were being questioned by the Criminal Investigations Department.
Improvised bomb defused near Colombo airport: police
An improvised pipe bomb discovered close to Colombo’s main airport has been successfully defused, according to police.
The “homemade” pipe bomb was found late on Sunday on a road leading towards the main terminal, which remains open with heavy security after deadly attacks on churches and hotels.
Sunday, April 21:
‘No one can dry our tears today’
Sinan M Salahuddin’s uncle, 43-year-old Mohamed Rishard was killed when an explosion hit the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. “He was my mentor, my guardian. It is a huge loss for us,” he told Al Jazeera.
Rishard the owner of the automobile dealership Exotic Cars, left behind his wife, three teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son. “He started his business from scratch, he was a self-made man and always wanted to help others in need. He was a mentor to many,” said 29-year-old Salahuddin.
“His wife is devastated … No one can dry our tears today,” he said.
Read more here
Police say 13 suspects arrested
Ruwan Gunasekara, a police spokesperson, said 13 suspects have been arrested in connection with the bombings in Sri Lanka
In a statement, Gunasekara said police have obtained a vehicle they suspect was used to transport the suspects into Colombo. Police also found a safe house used by the attackers, it added.
Gov’t ‘alerted to possible attacks before bombings’
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has acknowledged that “information was there” about possible attacks before bomb blasts ripped through churches and hotels in Colombo and two other towns.
“While this goes on we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken,” he said.
Eight people have so far been arrested in connection with the deadly blasts, Wickremesinghe said.
“So far the names that have come up are local,” he said, adding that investigators would look into whether the attackers had any “overseas links”.
Read more here.
Muslim groups condemn attacks
Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka condemned the attacks on churches and hotels in the country on Easter Sunday that killed more than 200 people.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourns the loss of innocent people in the blasts by violent elements who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups.
|People light candles for the victims of Sri Lanka’s serial bomb blasts in Karachi, Pakistan [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]|
The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, a body of Muslim scholars, said targeting Christian places of worship was unacceptable.