Sri Lanka attack death toll rises to 290
British father Ben Nicholson said Monday that his wife Anita, his 14-year-old son Alex and his 11-year-old daughter Annabel were killed Sunday in the bombing of the Shangri-La Hotel restaurant bombing in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children,” Nicholson said in a statement released by the UK Foreign Office.
The statement continued: “Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood. They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with.”
He asked for the media to respect his privacy “and allow us to grieve together.”
Sunday's violence punctured a decade of relative peace in Sri Lanka following the end of its civil war in 2009 — where attacks were common during the struggle.
Since the country gained independence from Britain in 1948, sporadic conflicts had broken out between minority groups and the government. The most damaging period of violence was from 1983 to 2009, with large-scale battles between separatist Tamil rebels and the military.
Though Colombo has remained largely free of violence since the war's end, there have been rising tensions between Muslim groups and the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community.
In March 2018, a state of emergency was imposed across the country for the first time since the civil war, following days of violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the central city of Kandy.
The violence, which was sparked by the death of a Sinhalese Buddhist youth, allegedly at the hands of a group of Muslim men, resulted in riots and arson attacks on scores of Muslim businesses and mosques.
Social media networks were blocked in Sri Lanka for a second day on Monday after the government shut them down in the wake of Sunday's attacks.
The government on Sunday cited "false news reports" it said were circulating online when announcing its drastic step.
These sites were still blocked on Monday, according to the internet monitoring group NetBlocks:
Some background: Facebook came under intense scrutiny just last month when the suspect in the New Zealand terror attack streamed live video of the massacre on Facebook. The company did not remove the video until after New Zealand police contacted the company.
A spokesperson for Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, told CNN on Sunday, "We are aware of the government's statement regarding the temporary blocking of social media platforms. People rely on our services to communicate with their loved ones and we are committed to maintaining our services and helping the community and the country during this tragic time."
A 5th grader from a highly selective private school in Washington, DC, has been identified as one of the victims killed in Sunday's Sri Lanka bombings.
The school, Sidwell Friends, emailed friends and families of attending students with the news that student Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa died in the blasts.
“Passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends in the coming school year,” school principal Mamadou Guèye wrote in the email.
Kieran was slated to return to Sidwell Friends for middle school next year.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping Sri Lanka’s authorities as they investigate Sunday’s bomb blasts, according to an FBI spokesperson.
The coordinated attacks left at least 290 people dead and hundreds injured. A US official said Monday morning that at least four US citizens have been killed.
The International Criminal Police Organization (also known as Interpol) is deploying a team to assist Sri Lanka’s authorities as they investigate Sunday’s bomb blasts.
Interpol will send an Incident Response Team specializing in crime scene examination, explosives, counterterrorism, disaster victim identification and analysis.
The deployment was made at the request of the Sri Lankan authorities.
“As the Sri Lankan authorities investigate these horrific attacks, Interpol will continue to provide whatever support is necessary,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock in a statement.
“The families and friends of the victims of these bombings, as with every terrorist attack, require and deserve the full support of the global law enforcement community."
President Trump called Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today, the White House said.
During the phone cal, Trump “pledged United States support to Sri Lanka in bringing the perpetrators to justice," according to a White House statement.
Here is the full statement:
“President Donald J. Trump called Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning to express condolences to the people of Sri Lanka for the Easter day terrorist attacks that killed nearly 300 and wounded hundreds of others. The near simultaneous attacks on Sri Lankan churches and hotels constitute one of the deadliest terrorist events since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe expressed appreciation for the President’s concern and updated him on the progress of the investigation into the attacks. President Trump pledged United States support to Sri Lanka in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and the leaders re-affirmed their commitment to the fight against global terrorism.”
William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, wrote a joint message to the people of Sri Lanka on Monday after the deadly attacks on Easter Sunday.
Here is their full statement:
We have been deeply saddened to learn of the devastating attacks in Sri Lanka this Easter Sunday.
Senseless acts like these in places that people would expect to be at their safest are truly horrifying.
Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives, to the Christian community, and to the people of Sri Lanka at this tragic time. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.
There were six suicide bombers involved in the explosions that killed at least 290 people across Sri Lanka on Sunday, according to Sri Lanka military spokesman Sumith Atapattu.
Police have also arrested 24 people in connection with the attacks.