Sri Lanka investigates Easter bombings
Nine suicide bombers took part in the Easter Sunday bombings, Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) confirmed today. Out of the nine, eight have been identified by CID, Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said.
The ninth bomber was confirmed as the wife of one of the suicide bombers.
Around 60 people have been arrested for possible links to the multiple attacks carried out on Easter Sunday. Of them, 32 are in custody with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). All of those arrested are of Sri Lankan nationality, officials said at a press conference today.
Over 100 people were killed in a blast on Easter Sunday at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a city to the north of the capital Colombo.
So far, 31 of those have been buried in a new cemetery prepared for the victims so far, and a further 25 more are expected to be interred today.
The church's priest is urging people to leave quickly after their loved ones are buried due to security fears around large groups gathering.
Speaking at a press conference today, Sri Lanka's State Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene revealed that the majority of Sunday's suicide bombers were from well-heeled families. They were also well-educated, including at least university graduate who had studied abroad.
"Most of them are well-educated, and come from maybe middle- or upper-middle-class. So they are financially quite independent and their families are quite stable financially," .
He added, "We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and maybe later on did his post-graduate in Australia, before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka."
Ashu Marasinghe, a Sri Lankan member of parliament, told CNN that he called yesterday for a parliamentary debate on banning “the burqa, niqab and any other religious face covering."
He said he believes face coverings are a threat to national security because they make it difficult to identify people, adding that facial covering was not traditional in Sri Lankan Muslim communities. No date has been set for his proposed debate.
People have their own reasons for wearing face coverings but they are all threats to national security. We need to start the discussion in parliament and we can move toward a ban of face coverings.
Face coverings would be banned in public places. This is the point we should discuss in parliament. Some restaurants and shops are already placing signs up asking their customers to remove their burqa or niqab. This is not good for social harmony, for the Muslim community or any other community. There should be one rule which covers all places.
I fully respect peoples religious freedom and freedom of expression, but this is a different angle. We are facing international terrorism for the first time in Sri Lanka – and face coverings are a security issue.
"The US Embassy and all American Spaces in #SriLanka will be closed to the public through April 26," the embassy in Colombo tweeted this afternoon.
At least one Sri Lankan hotel has banned facial coverings in the aftermath of the attacks.
A British guest at Ella Flower Garden Resort in the small mountain town of Ella, about 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) east of Colombo, told CNN that the rule began on Tuesday, and described it as "a hijab and burqa ban."
Signs on the hotel's glass door depict a variety of banned facial coverings, including icons of a helmet, an eye mask, a balaclava, an eyeless full-figure shroud, and an apparent Islamic burqa.
Kosala Dissanayake, the hotel's director of sales, confirmed the rule, and emphasized to CNN that the ban extended to all face coverings.
"We mention on signs in here about full-face helmet and fully-covered jackets," he said. "Because of the current situation going on Sri Lanka, we have to take some tough decisions," he added.
The hotel's ban follows allegations that Muslim extremists were responsible for the coordinated attacks, which killed at least 359 people in churches and luxury hotels.
The Sri Lankan government has warned that attackers could still be at large, and several countries have issued travel warnings for the country.