This week, the world has been reeling from news of suicide attacks which have unfolded across Sri Lanka over Easter weekend. It has been reported that more than 350 people lost their lives as a result of what appear to be calculated attacks across a number of public buildings, including churches. The Sri Lankan government has issued a statement claiming that the National Thoweeth Jama’ath were responsible for the attacks. However, the Islamic State, according to the New York Times, has also claimed responsibility.
It is thought that nine suicide bombers took part in the calculated attack, with the ringleader of the cell said to have been among them. The Times further states that at least 45 of the civilians killed were children, based on UNICEF reports. It is also thought that around 500 people in total were wounded, many of them including those travelling from abroad and those worshipping during the Easter festival.
What remains unknown at the time of writing is quite how such attacks came to pass. A number of media sources advise that the groups involved were not large units – and it is not yet clear quite how Islamic State may have been involved in helping to organise said atrocities.
An ongoing concern being reported by the wider media is quite how much was known about these attacks before they occurred. According to BBC News, it is being suggested that Sri Lanka’s government may have been warned about potential threats by both the US and India. As a result, it appears that an investigation is being set up by Sri Lankan forces to ascertain if such warnings were missed, and why they may not have been heeded.
“Our understanding is that [a warning] was correctly circulated among security and police,” advised Shiral Lakthilaka, senior advisor to the Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena.
It is not the first time that the nation has experienced such tragedy. The civil war which took place here over ten years ago saw suicide bombers acting on behalf of the Tamil Tigers. However, this new attack appears to be offering a whole new level of concern for the nation to take notice of.
With investigations ongoing into how such attacks were able to take place – and who, ultimately, is behind their organisation – this is sadly a story which will appear to unfold for much time to come.