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Sri Lanka death toll soars to 290 after Easter bomb massacre

The death toll in Sri Lanka has soared to 290 after a series of bomb blasts hit churches and luxury hotels across the country on Easter Sunday.

Police said that 24 people have been arrested, but it is not yet known who carried out the attacks.

Around 500 people are injured, with dozens of foreign visitors among the dead and injured.

Five British people, including a mother and her 11-year-old son, were killed as six simultaneous explosions hit.

Anita Nicholson, 42, and her son Alex, 11, were having breakfast on the second-floor restaurant of the Shangi-La hotel when they were killed, The Telegraph reports.

Anita Nicholson, 42, son Alex, daughter Annabel, husband Ben (Picture: Anita Nicholson/Facebook)

Victims Anita Nicholson, 42, and son Alex, 11, alongside daughter Annabel and husband Ben (Picture: Anita Nicholson/Facebook)

Blood stains are seen on the wall and on a Jesus Christ statue at the St. Sebastian's Church after blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo)

The bombs went off at churches as Christians gathered for Easter Sunday services (Picture: AP)

Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Relatives are today grieving for the almost 300 people killed (Picture: AP)

TOPSHOT - A relative of a Sri Lankan victim of an explosion at a church weeps outside a hospital in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. - A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing nearly 160 people, including dozens of foreigners. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP)LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images

It is the worst violence the country has seen since the end of the civil war in 2009 (Picture: AFP/Getty)

A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)

St Sebastians Church, one of the places hit in Colombo on Easter Sunday (Picture: AP)

A further two bombs exploded elsewhere in Sri Lanka as police responded to the first attacks.

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The country is today in shock as it comes to terms with the deadliest violence to hit since the end of the civil war in 2009.

Police and security services in Sri Lanka are continuing to investigate what they believe were a series of suicide bomb attacks.

The US State Department has this morning revised its travel advice, saying terrorists are continuing to plot possible attacks in Sri Lanka warning tourist locations may be a target.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was lots of speculation at the moment but there is no hard knowledge about the perpetrators of the atrocity and we obviously need to wait for the police in Sri Lanka to do their work.

He said the UK would offer Sri Lanka support in the days to come.

What we know so far

  • Six nearly simultaneous explosions at three churches and three hotels took place at Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Easter Sunday.
  • In Colombo, St Anthonys Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions.
  • Other blasts were reported at St Sebastians Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.
  • Three police officers were killed when they went to question suspects following a tip.
  • There were two further explosions later at a guesthouse in Dehiwala and near an overpass at Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo.
  • Sri Lankan officials have described it as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. Most of the eight blasts are suspected suicide attacks.
  • Police will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks as part of their investigation.
  • Five Britons, including two people holding joint US and British nationalities, are among the 290 people dead.
  • Among the Britons feared dead are Anita Nicholson, 42, and her 11-year-old son Alex.
  • There are also US, Turkish, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese victims among the 27 foreign nationals killed.
  • More than 500 people have been injured.
  • Thirteen suspects have been arrested, according to officials. No-one has taken responsibility for the massacre.
  • Sri Lankan authorities blocked access to many social media services in the wake of the attack, with Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp all affected.
  • A nationwide curfew was imposed from 6pm to 6am and has since been lifted.

Police say one line of inquiry will be to look at what intelligence services knew about the attacks amid reports they failed to detect or warn of threats before the violence.

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Minister for Telecommunications Harin Fernando earlier tweeted: Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence.

Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.

In Colombo, church St Anthonys Shrine and five star hotels the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury were targeted in the first wave of explosions shortly before 9am local time as worshippers attended morning services and tourists enjoyed their breakfasts.

Brits caught up in the carnage in Colombo described the horrific scenes they witnessed.

Following the blast at the Cinnamon Grand, NHS doctor Julian Emmanuel, from Surrey, told The Sun: Ive never seen such utter devastation.

He added: My children and wife are traumatised by what they saw today.

We will never forget this. We will always remember Easter Sunday for this reason now.

epa07519448 Police and security personnel stand gaurd after an explosion hit Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019. According to news reports at least 138 people killed and over 400 injured in a series of blasts during the Easter Sunday service at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade, Shangri-La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel with many more places. EPA/M.A. PUSHPA KUMARA

Police and security personnel stand guard after an explosion hit Shangri-La Hotel (Picture: EPA)

An injured Sri Lankan woman lays on a stretcher as hospital workers push her at the District General Hospital in Negombo, following an explosion at St Sebastian's Church, on April 21, 2019. - A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing nearly 160 people, including dozens of foreigners. (Photo by STR / AFP)STR/AFP/Getty Images

An injured Sri Lankan woman lays on a stretcher as hospital workers push her at the District General Hospital in Negombo (Picture: AFP/Getty)

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) personnel gesture outside a house during a raid -- after a suicide blast had killed police searching the property -- i</br><a href=https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/22/sri-lanka-easter-bomb-massacre-death-toll-soars-290-9283162/><strong>Read More – Source</strong></a></p>
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