Sri Lanka arrests 13 after Easter blasts kill over 200

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has arrested 13 suspects over bombings on Easter Sunday that killed over 200 persons and injured more than 450, which a minister said was carried out by an un-named extremist group.

Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 13 persons were arrested over the bombings and 10 have been given over to the Criminal Investigations Department for further questioning.

Police had also had taken into custody a van which was suspected to have ferried the bombers to Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo along with its driver, a statement said.

State Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said the bombings were carried out by an extremist group but he was not naming it or suspects to avoid any communal violence.

Police said at least 207 had been killed in blasts at three churches around the country, three hotels in Colombo in the morning and two other locations in the capital and over 450 had been injured.

Gunasekera said bombing appeared to be linked and one police unit was investigating the incidents.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said there had been some prior information on impending attacks but the he and the cabinet had not been fully informed.

Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando said Sri Lanka was peaceful after a war ended in 2009 and the attacks were unexpected as that in New Zealand recently.

World leaders have condemned the attacks and offered assistance.

"The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help," US President Donald Trump said in a twitter.com message.

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Wickremesinghe said foreign police assistance would be needed to find whether the group had any international links.

"I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence," Vatican news quoted Pope Francis as saying.

At least 30 foreigners may have been killed on the bombings at hotels, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinghe said.

Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels were bombed between 8.45 and 9.30 am on Sunday, along with Churches in Colombo, Negombo and Baticaloa in Eastern Sri Lanka.

"I heard a loud bang and the hotel shook," Matt, an Australian tourist who was standing outside Colombo’s Kingsbury hotel said. "Then we were told to evacuate due to a suspected gas leak. US, UK and India have said several of their citizens were killed in the bombings. (Colombo/Apr21/2019-SB)

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