On Sunday 21 April a massive explosion took place in Sri Lanka, leaving thousands of people devastated. The explosions happened in series and targeted Christians at Easter Sunday church services in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, and tourists staying in luxury hotels in the capital. With the death toll at 290 and more than 500 injured no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lankan officials have said religious extremists are to blame.
Six of the eight bombings took place in Sri Lanka’s capital. At 8.45am the city was rocked by simultaneous explosions at a large Catholic church, St Anthony’s Shrine, and the Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels. Five minutes later another hotel, the Cinnamon Grand, was also hit.
Police said 24 people had been arrested, but it is not yet known who carried out the attacks.
About 500 people are injured and at least 35 foreigners are among the dead.
The Easter Sunday bombings were the deadliest violence Sri Lanka has witnessed since the end of the country’s civil war in 2009.
This attack took a lot of planning, which is surprising for a group that most have never heard of,” Raffaello Pantucci, a member of the London-based Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies told The Press “That makes me suspect that there is an external link, and Islamic State or Al Qaeda are the obvious suspects.”
Researchers also told the newspaper that Christians and Westerners are increasingly coming under attack by extremists in Asia and Africa.