Natasha Grace Doris | Thu, 25 Apr 2019
359 people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, including at least 45 children, with more than 500 wounded and 375 currently being treated for injuries in hospital. The first bomb was detonated at 8:45am in the capital of Colombo, where six of the total of eight attacks occurred. Two other attacks were carried out in the seaside town of Negombo, and in the former capital of Batticaloa.
It is speculated that the attacks may have been in retaliation to the Christchurch mass shooting in which 50 people were killed at a mosque in the New Zealand capital. However, Hilmy Ahamed – Vice President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka - states that due to the short time between the attacks, it is unlikely that the bombings were a response to Christchurch, due to the time the high level of planning and coordination behind the Sri Lanka attacks would have required. While ISIS has laid claim to the attacks on Sunday, they have provided no evidence to substantiate their statement.
Intelligence suggests that a fringe Muslim extremist group called the National Thawheeh Jama’ath, along with another group called the Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim were behind the attacks. It has been confirmed that intelligence of the impending attacks had been provided to a small number of officials in the country’s government, according to Sri Lanka’s state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene. However, no security measures were taken in prevention.
Sri Lankan authorities have identified eight out of nine attackers, and more than sixty people have been arrested in connection to the bombings. One of the attackers, named as Abdul Latif Jamil Mohammed, attended universities in England and Australia in the mid-2000s.
The country had been at peace since 2009, which saw the end of intense civil upheaval in the country fuelled by the attacks perpetrated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam, known as the Tamil Tigers in the media. The bombings are the deadliest to have occurred since 2006, which saw 371 people killed in a series of six terrorist attacks.
The University of Aberdeen has planned to open a new campus in Sri Lanka – However, in a statement by the University communications office, a representative has confirmed that the campus is currently not operational. The University has stated: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the devastating events in Sri Lanka. We will, of course, provide support to any of our community who have been affected by this.”
On Tuesday the 23rd of April, the first burials for the victims were carried out in Colombo as Sri Lanka held a day of national morning. The country held three minutes of silence for the victims, and people of all faiths across the nation bowed their heads in silent remembrance for the dead and the grieving.