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Sri Lanka serial blasts: 6 Indians killed, toll rises to 290; police arrests 24 suspects

At least six Indians are among 290 people killed in a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, which struck three churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said on Monday.

The Indian High Commission said it is closely monitoring the situation. The Sri Lanka serial blasts also left nearly 500 persons injured.

This was the biggest ever terror attack in the country since the end of the Sri Lankan civil war involving the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military.

The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told the media.

Explosions were reported from three five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, said the Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that a hospital informed it about deaths of the five Indians in the blasts.

On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan identified a Keralite, PS Rasina (58), among those killed in the deadly bomb blasts.

Swaraj also confirmed that the Indian Visa application centre in the island country, IVS LANKA will remain closed for two days, starting from Monday.

An unnamed official said a suicide bomber blew himself up at the restaurant of the Cinnamon Grand hotel.

Among the dead were at least 30 foreigners – all in Colombo. Reports suggest that the foreign nationals killed in attack include British, Dutch, Americans and Japanese among others.

Police have arrested 24 suspects till now in connection with attacks.

However, no group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s serial blasts.

Curfew imposed following the serial blasts was lifted at 6 am on Monday, as scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Eiffel Tower in Paris went dark at midnight as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the serial blasts.

Most of the deadly attacks in the past in the country had been carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland for nearly three decades before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Indian citizens in need of assistance or help can call on +94777903082, +94112422788, +94112422789, +94777902082 and +94772234176 (With agency inputs & The Statesman)

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