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The attacks in churches and hotels for Easter. What is known a day after a series of explosions in Sri Lanka

Responsibility for the attack was laid on the local group, and the authorities introduced an emergency mode and closed access to social networks.


Rescuers and firefighters in one of the Catholic churches in Sri Lanka. Photo AFP

On April 21, the day of Catholic Easter, a series of explosions occurred in Sri Lanka — some in hotels, some in churches. As specified in the police, injuring about 500 people and killed – 290. Officially, no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but authorities detained 24 suspects and have launched an investigation.

A day later, briefly talks about what is known about the series of explosions in Sri Lanka, how the attacks are connected with the confrontation of local religious groups and who they consider to be the main suspects.

Why they blew up hotels and temples

Early in the morning in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, three explosions thundered – in the five-star hotels of Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury, followed by three more – in Catholic churches. A few hours later, two more explosions occurred in a residential complex in the suburbs of the capital and in the western part of the island nation. Another bomb was defused near the International Airport of Bandaranaike, and another, hidden in a truck, was blown up by sappers.

The temples held traditional celebrations in honor of Catholic Easter. As notedSri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia Dayan Jayatilleka, target of the attack were just members of the Christian community who have come together for a holiday or come from other countries. “The goal was not tourists, if they were tourists, the explosions would have occurred on the beaches.where most vacationers are located, ”he added.

What local authorities have done

On April 22, Sri Lanka police detained 24 people on suspicion of organizing a series of explosions. Law enforcement agencies conducted several special operations to investigate the attacks and search for those who are behind the incident. All detained suspects are located in the Criminal Investigation Department.

The Sri Lankan government imposed a curfew across the country from 6:00 pm Sunday to 6:00 am Monday. From Tuesday, April 23, President Maitripala Sirisena (Maithripala Sirisena) ordered the introduction of a state of emergency, and also requested assistance in investigating the explosions from foreign intelligence services.

According to The New York Times, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber and YouTube are not working or are working intermittently on the island. As explained by the presidential adviser, the authoritiesdeliberately limited access to social networks and the Internet to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speechregarding religious groups. One of the local residents told Medusa that only Telegram remained from the working messengers. This is not the first time when social networks are cut off due to unrest in Sri Lanka.

After the explosions, the authorities turned off access to social networks and instant messengers – in fact, this is the only thing that made our government. Only Telegram works in the country, but rumors about the causes of the attack are already spreading among local residents – allegedly a week ago the authorities learned that terrorist attacks were being prepared, but ignored it.

Matisha colombo resident

Who is behind the terrorist attack

A few hours after the explosions, the Minister of Defense of Sri Lanka, Ruvan Wijewardene , stated that the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks are known to the authorities and belong to extremist groups. Officially, none of them claimed responsibility for the attack.

As the AFP agency learned , law enforcement agencies received a warning about the impending attack a few days before Easter. According to journalists, officials were told thatAn attack on several Christian churches is planned in the coming days. On April 4, a warning came from international intelligence services, on April 9, the Ministry of Defense sent him to the police, and on April 11, it was already in all the law enforcement agencies of Sri Lanka. Nothing is known about what actions the authorities have taken.

According to the Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne, all the attackers are citizens of Sri Lanka. That warning, received a few days before the bombings, said that they were linked to the Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (” Tamil Elam Liberation Tigers “). In recent years, there is almost no information about it, except that its members may come from the “Islamic State”.

Why Sri Lanka

These attacks were the bloodiest in the last 10 years in Sri Lanka. Among those killed in the blasts are at least 35 foreigners, including citizens of Great Britain, the Netherlands, the USA and China. There are no tourists from Russia among the victims, this was confirmed by the Foreign Ministry and the embassy. It also became known that three out of four children of the co-owner of the online store Asos Anders Holh Povlsen were killed in the attacks.

According to the 2012 census, 22 million people live in Sri Lanka, among which 70% are Buddhists, 12.6% are Hindus, 9.7% are Muslims and 7.6% are Christians, reminds BBC . The last major attacks occurred in the country during the civil war that ended in 2009. Nationalistic muslimthe Tigers of Tamil Eelam Liberation Tigers feuded with the government, including killing policemen, setting up explosions and attacking members of other religions.

The Tigers controlled almost the entire east and north coast. The group almost ceased to exist in May 2009, when it lost several battles to the government forces and lost the religious leader Velupillai Prabahakaran. After that, several militants continued to hide in the jungle.

From the point of view of the government that it was the “Tigers” who attacked, and the journalists agree. Writer and columnist Randy Boyagoda wrote in a column for The New York Times that the explosions were symbolic.

Many know about the historical problems of Sri Lanka, and specifically about the 30-year civil war. It was carried out along ethnic lines and was accompanied by hundreds of suicide bombings by suicide bombers from the Tigers. But international interest in the island nation and familiarity with its internal struggle ended at the same time as the war ended in 2009.

But now a new and general context has emerged: everything indicates that local Islamist terrorists have committed attacks. They knew the goals and chose them for maximum symbolic value. The Church of St. Anthony in the capital Colombo is a national shrine, whose history is connected with the persecution of local Catholics by the then rulers, colonists from Holland.

Randy Boyagoda writer and journalist

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