April 22, 2024


Latest News and Updates on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: the leader of the attacks died in one of the suicide attacks

Tension remains high in Sri Lanka where the hunt for suspects continues. The leader of the attacks died on Sunday while perpetrating one of them. The security forces have arrested nearly 75 people since Sunday in connection with this bloodbath. The human toll of these deadly attacks was revised sharply down Thursday evening.

A significantly lowered balance sheet

Four days after the suicide bombings in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, the Sri Lankan authorities have considerably revised down the toll of the attacks.

Authorities have reduced the official death toll to 253, from 359 previously, explaining that “terribly mutilated bodies of victims” had been counted several times in error. Of the 485 people who were hospitalized with injuries, 149 remained in hospital Thursday night, according to the health ministry.

The investigation still ongoing

The jihadist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, while the Sri Lankan authorities blamed a local Islamist movement, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ). To date, ISIS has not provided any evidence to support its claim. If this turns out to be true, it would be one of the worst attacks carried out by the group outside of Iraq and Syria.

The police announced “to hunt 140 people suspected of being linked to the Islamic State”.

Radical leader Zahran Hashim was one of the suicide bombers

The leader of the Islamist group accused in the jihadist Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, Zahran Hashim, died in one of the suicide attacks that killed 253 people in the South Asian island, the presidency of the South Asian island announced on Friday. Sri Lanka.

Wanted by authorities, the man was the leader of National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a local jihadist movement accused by Colombo of carrying out the attacks on churches and luxury hotels on Sunday morning. His fate for the past five days was hitherto unknown. He was the number one suspect in the law enforcement manhunt. ” What the intelligence services told me is that Zahran was killed in the Shangri-La attack” Sunday morning, “President Maithripala Sirisena said during a meeting with the press. Zahran Hashim said carried out the suicide attack against the upscale hotel establishment in the capital with a second suicide bomber, identified as “Ilham”, said the head of state.

Zahran Hashim appeared in a video released by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, where he was seen leading seven men in an oath of allegiance to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was in his 40s and originally from the eastern region of Batticaloa, where one of the suicide bombers struck an evangelical church on Sunday during Easter mass.

A fault in the transmission of information?

The controversy rumbles over the inability of Sri Lankan decision-makers to prevent suicide attacks upstream. In this context, two senior officials resigned. The top defense ministry official resigned on Thursday, saying “accept responsibility” for the failure, a ministerial source told AFP. On Friday, the president announced the resignation of the police chief.

Colombo, who received assistance from an FBI team for the investigation into the carnage, admitted a state “failure” in security matters as authorities failed to prevent the bloodshed so that they had very precise information.

An alert written on April 11 by the police chief, warning that the NTJ was preparing attacks, was not communicated to the Prime Minister and high-ranking ministers, in a context of power struggle between the head of government and President Sirisena – who is also Minister of the Interior and Defense.

On several occasions before the Easter attacks, India warned Sri Lanka of the risk of suicide bombings, a source familiar with the matter told AFP on Thursday. New Delhi had got its hands on “threatening” content, including videos, during arrests in the south of the country of people suspected of links to IS. “_The videos showed a radical leader in Sri Lanka making threatening comments that suicide attacks were possible,” said the source, who requested anonymity. According to the Indian press, the man in the pictures is Zahran Hashim, the head of the NTJ.

Sri Lanka has suspended a tourist visa waiver project that was intended to boost attendance in low season. The attacks could deter many travelers from traveling to this South Asian island popular for its idyllic beaches and verdant nature, which had a record year in 2018 with 2.33 million tourists.

Up to $ 1.5 billion loss for the tourism sector

According to the country’s finance minister, the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka could cause up to $ 1.5 billion in lost revenue to its tourism sector this year. “ Tourism will be hit the hardest ,” Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera told a press conference, “ we expect a 30% drop in arrivals and that means a loss of around 1.5 billion of dollars “.

Based on the precedents of countries affected by attacks such as France, Belgium, Spain and Tunisia, Mr. Samaraweera estimated that the sector could hope for a return to normal within two years. ” Typically, countries that suffer from isolated ISIS-style attacks see their tourism recover in one to two years, as long as the root problems are addressed and security measures are in place. communicated, “he explained.

Several nations call on their nationals to avoid traveling to Sri Lanka
Most of the victims of these attacks are Sri Lankans. At least 38 foreigners were also killed, many of them tourists sitting for breakfast in high-end hotels when suicide bombers struck. They were British, Americans, Australians, Turks, Indians, but also Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

From the United Kingdom to Israel to the Netherlands, several nations have called on their nationals to avoid traveling to Sri Lanka, or to leave the country if they are there. Australia ruled Friday “probable” that further attacks will be committed there, while the hunt for suspects in connection with the attacks continues. Hundreds of Dutch people currently in Sri Lanka will be repatriated to the Netherlands “in the coming days”, a guarantee fund active in tourism announced on Friday.

Paris recommends that the French limit their travel in the capital Colombo, as well as stay away from places of worship and gatherings across the island.

The start of the year was nevertheless encouraging for the Sri Lankan tourism industry. Visitor arrivals were up 4.6% over one year, to 740,600 tourists, in the first quarter of 2019.

In view of the security situation, Sri Lanka has suspended a tourist visa waiver program intended to boost attendance in the low season. The device was to come into force on May 1 for six months.