Wednesday, 03 Jun 2020

Police have arrested 40 suspects in the Sri Lanka attacks


Photo : InternetPhoto : Internet - In the Sri Lanka attacks, police have arrested 40 suspects including the driver of a van allegedly used by suicide bombers and the owner of a house where some of them lived. Sri Lanka’s president gave the military a wider berth to detain and arrest suspects on Tuesday. 

As information, the death toll from Sunday’s attacks rose to 310, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said. 

On Tuesday, which president Maithripala Sirisena declared a day of mourning.

The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels, along with three related blasts later on Sunday, were the South Asian island nation’s deadliest violence in a decade.

The government blocked most social media to curtail false information. Nationwide curfew was lifted, the streets of central Colombo remained mostly deserted and shops closed as armed soldiers stood guard. 

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could unleash instability and he vowed to vest all necessary powers with the defence forces to act against those responsible. 

In an indication of the tensions, three explosions caused panic but apparently no injuries on Monday as police were defusing bombs inside a van parked near one of the stricken churches. Dozens of detonators were discovered near Colombo’s main bus depot. 

International intelligence agencies had warned that the little-known group, National Thowfeek Jamaath, was planning attacks, but word apparently did not reach the prime minister’s office until after the massacre, exposing the continuing political turmoil in the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government.

All the bombers were Sri Lankans, but authorities said they strongly suspected foreign links. Also unclear was a motive. 

The history of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, a country of 21 million including large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, is rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict. 

In the 26-year civil war, the Tamil Tigers, a powerful rebel army known for using suicide bombers, was finally crushed by the government in 2009 but had little history of targeting Christians. 

Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country recently, but there is no history of Islamic militancy. Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment. Two of the stricken churches are Catholic and one Protestant. The three hotels and one of the churches, St Anthony’s Shrine, are frequented by foreigners. Tourism minister John Amaratunga said 39 foreigners were killed, although the foreign ministry gave the figure as 31. The reason for the discrepancy was not clear, but some victims were dual nationals.

India and Britain have each confirmed eight dead. The US State Department confirmed that at least four Americans were dead and several seriously wounded. Others were confirmed to be from Bangladesh, China, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and Australia. 




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