Reports out of Colombo, Sri Lanka confirm on Monday that government officials knew about the terrorist plot two weeks prior to the Easter Sunday bombings that took at least 290 lives. In a statement made by Rajitha Senaratne, spokesman for the Cabinet, and the country’s health minister, Sri Lankan counterparts had been notified on April 4th that terrorist groups were indeed targeting both churches and tourist destinations. Adding insult to injury, reports are showing that a mere five days later, law enforcement officials were given the names of the very suspected individual behind the plot.
As a result, on Easter Sunday a wave of explosions, that reportedly occurred almost simultaneously, including three churches and three luxury hotels. At a later time, officials did release that two other explosions occurred as well. Reports indicate an estimated 500 individuals were injured, with at least 27 foreign nationals being reported as amongst the dead.
Chief of staff to Sri Lankan’s president, Hemasiri Fernando, stated to NBC News that the country had, in fact, alerted its security agencies in advance of the terrorist attacks. "We never expected it to be so big. We never thought I would happen so soon." When asked who was thought to be at blame for the bombings, Senaratne placed the blame at the feet of the National Thowheed Jamath, which is said to be a local Islamist group.
Those locations that were targeted in the bombings included St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, north of Colombo, and Batticaloa east of Colombo. The hotels that were targeted that included the foreign nationals included Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel, and Cinnamon Gran Colombo. Officials feel these three hotels, in particular, were targeted because they are amongst the most popular with foreign tourists.
This story, as well as the investigation, is ongoing and evolving as this article was written.
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Was this series of bombings actually an Islamic terrorist attack as many news agencies are claiming?