As it happenedended1555948011

Sri Lanka bombings: Explosion near Colombo church as police attempt to defuse three new bombs

Islamist group behind attacks believed to have links with foreign terrorist networks

Tom Batchelor
Monday 22 April 2019 08:40 BST
Sri Lanka bomb: Dashcam footage showing the blast at Kochikade St. Anthony's church

Coordinated Easter Sunday bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a domestic militant group, according to government officials.

The bombings, the country's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago on the island nation, killed at least 290 people with more than 500 wounded. Eight Britons are among the dead.

Security forces are carrying out searches across the island to search for those behind the bombs. On Monday the group National Thowheed Jama’ath was named by a government minister as having carried out the attacks.

Follow the latest developments below


Good morning and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka.

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:03

Here are some of this morning's main developments:

- Police have said their investigation will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks before the violence

- Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Manisha Gunasekera, said eight British nationals were killed in the attacks.

- Sri Lankan authorities ordered a curfew in the capital, Colombo, for a second day on Monday, from 8 p.m. (1430 GMT) to 4 a.m (2230 GMT) on Tuesday

- Security forces are carrying out searches across the island to search for those behind the bombs at churches and hotels. No group has claimed responsibility.

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:16

More information is also emerging about the actions of the bombers. A manager at Sri Lanka's Cinnamon Grand hotel described seeing a man carrying a plate queuing for breakfast before he detonated explosives strapped to his back.

“There was utter chaos,” he told the AFP news agency. “It was 8.30 am and it was busy. It was families. He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast."

Here is our full story: 

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:24

Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, has said there was "lots of speculation at the moment but there is no hard knowledge" about the perpetrators of the atrocity and "we obviously need to wait for the police in Sri Lanka to do their work".

He said the UK would offer Sri Lanka support in the days to come.

"If there is any help that the UK can give, we would want to give it," he said.

It comes after the death toll for British nationals rose from five to eight.

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:29
Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:31

A three-member emergency inquiry panel has been set up, and ordered to report to the president within two weeks.

It comes as questions were raised over how such a large-scale, coordinated attack could be allowed to take place. Late on Sunday, it emerged that intelligence officials had received warnings in advance.

Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he and other ministers had not been told about the “information regarding a possible attack” and that it had not been acted upon.

“We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken,” Mr Wickremesinghe added.

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:38

This is just in from our Asia editor, Adam Withnall, who is in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

At St Anthony’s church in Colombo, chief priest Jude Fernando told The Independent he believed a suicide bomber had targeted the back of the church where large numbers of people were standing for the final prayers of the service.

Father Jude was by the side of the main altar when the bomb rang out at 8.45am. There were 1,000 to 1,500 people in the church at the time.

“There were so many people inside, we didn’t know what was going on. There were bodies everywhere, people screaming and shouting.

“I can’t understand why the church has been targeted in this way. This is actually a place where everybody comes, regardless of religion, language, caste or creed. This is the most respected place in Sri Lanka, I would say.

"The people who have been injured and killed, they were from all parts of Sri Lanka. This is an attack on the heart of the country. We ask that people remain calm, and for the rest of the world to pray for us.”

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:41

The Shangri-La hotel - the worst hit of the three hotels - has released a statement confirming "a number of casualties among our guests and colleagues".

It states that the hotel, which remains secured by the military and the police, will be closed until further notice.

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:43

Sri Lanka's health minister says local militant group is behind Easter Sunday attacks - this has just been put out by the Associated Press news agency.

Until now no group has claimed responsibility and the authorities in Sri Lanka have not provided information about the perpetrators. We will bring more on this as we get it. 

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:46

The Australian government has told citizens planning to visit the island to “reconsider your need to travel” - the first western government to make such a move, writes our travel correspondent, Simon Calder

The “amber” status is the second-most serious, after “Do not travel”. Australia previously advised travellers to Sri Lanka to “exercise a high degree of caution.”

Sri Lanka now has the same security status as Algeria, Congo, Iran and North Korea.

Full story here: 

Tom Batchelor22 April 2019 09:50

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in