April 21, 2019, was a nightmare for Sri Lanka. People were in the mood to celebrate Easter but were not aware of the deadly incident that would forever ruin their lives.
Three Luxury hotels and three churches in Colombo were targeted for the terrorist suicide bombing. Around 290 people died when the blast hit the hotels and churches on Sunday. Five hundred ninety-nine were injured, and about 35 foreigners were killed among them.
The next day, a smaller level of the explosion took place at the housing complex of Dematagoda. Eight bombers and three police officers died in this explosion. The first explosion was about 8:45, and the next six blasts were within a tiny time gap. Three churches in Batticaloa, Negombo, and Colombo were targeted during the Easter.
It rocked the Cinnamon Grand Hotel l, Kingsbury, and Shangri-La. As per the officials, all the explosions were carried out by the suicide bombers. One of the suicide bomber’s wife belonged to the local extremist group and flew to India to avoid the arrest. Sri Lankan police arrested more than 200 suspects after the explosion.
As per the Sri Lankan official, all the eight suicide bombers responsible for the explosion were Sri Lankans. They were associated with National Thowheeth Jama’ath, mostly known as the local militant Islamist group suspected of foreign ties. The New Zealand government and some experts were trying to link both the Sufis and Buddhist attacks.
All the Christians attended the churches for the Easter celebration on Sunday. It was on that fateful day when the explosion took place. The bombing coordination and sequence were pre-planned.
The main motive was to destroy the churches, where Christians were targeted during their worship time. They also aimed the tourists and guests during breakfast in the beachfront hotel. All coordinated six explosions attacked hotels and churches.
The first explosion took place in the historic Catholic Church, St Anthony killing more than 50 people. The second bomb blasted St. Sebastian’s Church taking the lives of 100 people. Sri Lankan government closed all the facilities to maintain security, and the defense minister issued a curfew immediately by 18:00 local time on the same day.
The government banned all social media from stopping rumors, and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam closed all the schools. Even the Colombo stock exchange department announced to suspend the operation temporarily due to the terrorist attack. The Sri Lankan air force department dismantled an explosive device found near the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.
Punj Jayasundara, the inspector general, was criticized heavily for this whole incident. The United people’s freedom alliance demanded his resignation. For them, he immensely failed to protect the Sri Lankans. The Sri Lankan government requested the citizens not to spread rumors and not to speculate about the attack.
Restricting social media stopped the rumors and unauthorized speculations on who could be behind the attacks. Twenty-four people were arrested, but no such information we’re given. Assam Ameen in Colombo said that the suicide bombers could be part of the radical extremist Islamist group.
Mr. Wickremesinghe said that they must look into the matter of why the required precautions were not taken. He was not informed about the incident. A few days later, one top graded Sri Lankan officer told BBC that the intelligence and government should not be blamed. Vast of Sri Lankan people were killed, including Christians who died in the church for celebrating Easter. As per government records, around 35 foreign nationals were killed.
Other international victims include five British, six Indians, one Portuguese, two Turkey engineers, two Australians, and two Chinese. The incident truly shattered the left relatives, who paid respect at St. Sebastian Church on their lost loved ones’ death anniversary.
Indian intelligence warned about the planned attack but was not appropriately shared with the earlier administration. The investigation is yet to be concluded.