Sri Lanka attack death toll rises to 290
An improvised explosive device was discovered near the road leading to Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport last night, Air Force spokesman Gihan Seneviratne told CNN.
The device was found at around 10:15 pm local time, and defused by authorities. Seneviratne said it was packed inside a PVC pipe, and estimated the bomb’s size to be 5.5 to 6 feet long.
Speaking to CNN outside St Anthony’s Shrine, Sister Ramoshini Fernando, a Catholic nun, said that several of her friends and parishioners died in the attack.
Her father had been near the explosion when it took place, and has been hospitalized with shrapnel wounds, she said.
Fernando said she hoped all Catholics would pull together in the attacks' aftermath. Wearing a blue robe and a prominent crucifix, Fernando said she was aware she could be a target and did not feel safe.
“I am not afraid to die,” she said, adding she has dedicated her life to religious service. “But to kill innocents with families is appalling.”
Speaking outside St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Housing Sajith Premadasa said the Easter attacks were shocking for the country.
Since the end of the war in 2009, we have not experienced this type of attack so we are extremely disturbed and concerned about this," he said.
“It’s a shock and we will apply shock therapy,” he added later.
Premadasa acknowledged apparent security oversights in the run up to the attacks and said that would be a key part of the investigation now taking place.
Responding to reports of reprisal attacks against Sri Lanka’s Muslim community he said such activity was not widespread and was confident that the “rule of law will prevail.”
The explosion at the shrine appeared to be the work of one suicide bomber, he said.
Twenty-four people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunasekara told CNN.
On Monday, two men were arrested for "behaving suspiciously" at a hotel in the town of Dambulla, in the center of the country. In response to questions from CNN, Gunasekara said the arrests were connected to Sunday's bombings.
Television chef Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter Nisanga Mayadunne were killed in the explosion at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, say two immediate family members.
In Facebook photo apparently posted just before the explosion, Nisanga showed herself and several others eating breakfast at the hotel. The photo caption read "Easter breakfast with family 😊"
The number of people killed in Sri Lanka's church and hotel attacks has risen to 290, Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunasekara told CNN, in a steep upward revision of earlier estimates. About 500 more are injured.
Here's a visual timeline of the attacks as they struck cities across Sri Lanka on Sunday, including targeting Easter services in three churches.
Tourists and residents attempting to get in touch with relatives via social media on Monday were unable to do so without a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a foreign SIM card, after the government ordered a block on social media in the aftermath of the attacks.
Attempts to load Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and the messaging app Viber all failed Monday morning. Twitter appears to be accessible and some government ministers have been tweeting out information.
Some Sri Lankans have been circumventing the blocks with VPNs. People using foreign SIM cards which roam onto non-Sri Lankan networks were unaffected.
Turkey has revealed the names of two Turkish citizens killed in the bombings.
"Unfortunately, we lost our citizens, Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus, in the treacherous attacks in Sri Lanka," Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in state media Anadolu Agency.
Both were engineers, the agency reported.
“We are in contact with their families and we will ensure quick return of the bodies to our country," Cavusoglu said.