Sri Lankan bombings leave more than 200 dead

By Amani Salahudeen
Staff Writer

The country mourns the loss of the victims (YouTube).

A series of bombings in Sri Lanka killed more than 200 people and injured at least 500 others at churches and hotels on April 21. The church bombings took place at 8:45 a.m. during Easter celebrations, CBS News reported.

According to CBS News, those who were targeted were among the Christian population. Faraz Shauketaly, a TV broadcaster at the News First, spoke with CBSN about the attack.

“‘We’ve never had any sort of trouble with –– or anything aimed at –– the Christian community ever before,’” he said, also stating that Sunday’s terrorist attack, “‘appears to be targeted at the Christian community.’”

The churches included Catholic church St. Anthony’s Shrine, St. Sebastian Catholic church in Negombo,  and the Protestant Zion church in the eastern town of Batticaloa. So far, Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene informed reporters that  the bombs as a “terrorist attack by religious extremists,” according to the PBS report.

In addition to the three churches, attacks also occurred near four hotels — the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La, the Tropical Inn and Kingsbury, CBS News reported.

CBS News reported that at least 24 suspects have been arrested and detained, according to Runan Gunasekera, a spokesman for Sri Lanka’s police.

The ceilings of the three churches and three hotels collapsed and destroyed windows, leading to the deaths of people in the churches and guests at the hotel. Witnesses at the scenes recounted substantial blasts, with a lot of “‘smoke, blood, broken glass, alarms going off and victims screaming,’” according to PBS. During a search at a safe house, three officers were slaughtered.

Sri Lanka’s government has temporarily stopped social media sites such as WhatsApp and Facebook. They have been blocked in order to curtail spreading unverified rumors, CBS News reported.

According to The Washington Post, the reason for the attacks were more complicated than religious tension between the Muslims and the Buddhists.

Among the victims were a fifth grader from Washington, D.C., a UK mother and her kids, an education publishing employee from Colorado and three children of a Danish billionaire CNN reported. More details on the victims and their families are being updated as days go by.

Sri Lanka is a “‘religiously diverse country of about 20 million people,’” CBS News reported. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians make up the majority of the population. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesing has fears that the violence from the bombings will prompt instability within Sri Lanka and destabilize its economy.

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