|picture courtesy: CNN|
COLOMBO/NEW DELHI: The series of coordinated blasts by suspected Islamic terrorists, which killed nearly 300 innocents in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, has led to imposition of internal emergency and clamping of curfew in the island nation. This tragedy happened at a time when thousands of tourists from the West as also across Asia were holidaying in the tourism-centric nation. All these were suicide bombings, and those involved were Sri Lankan nations, as per first reports.
Among those killed in the blast – at churches, luxury hotels and other key installations – were several Indians and Europeans, as also Chinese.
Prominent among the Indians were a few ruling Janata Dal (Secular) politicians from Karnataka, who were holidaying in the luxurious Shangri-La five-star hotel. Two of the JDS leaders were from Nelamangala near Bengaluru, identified as Hanumantayayappa KG and Rangappa M. Some of the Karnataka team had reached Colombo after campaigning in the constituency of Karnataka’s Congress leader Veerappa Moily.
The JDS leaders were holidaying in Sri Lanka after the election campaign in some constituencies. Stated chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, “I’m shocked to hear that a 7-member team of JDS workers from Karnataka, who were touring Colombo (Sri Lanka), has gone missing after bomb blasts. Two of them are feared killed. I’m in constant touch with Indian high commission on reports of those missing.” As per another report, two JDS leaders from Nelamangala near Bengaluru, namely Hanumantarayappa KG and Rangappa M, were confirmed dead.
The JDS-Congress government in Karnataka is known to be among the most corrupt, with leaders of both the parties allegedly making hay when the Sun shines — minting money in crores with a long line-up of ‘deals’. Their ending up in the Chinese-owned luxury hotel in Colombo even as the campaign for the LS polls is progressing, has come as a shock to many in Karnataka.
Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 suspects from the minority Muslim community, which forms 10 per cent of the mainly Buddhist nation’s population. Meanwhile, life remained largely disrupted on Monday. The Sri Lankan Airlines reported disruptions to flights and has asked leaving passengers to report to the check-in counters at least four hours in advance because of tight security checks at the International airport.
Curfew that was imposed following the series of explosions Sunday was lifted at 6am on Monday, as scheduled. It would be reimposed later. The death toll from the attacks stood at 290 by Monday morning, while about 500 more were wounded. Some Europeans were also among the dead. “We can confirm that some British nationals were among those killed,” stated the UK Foreign Office.
One of the dead from among the Indian citizens was Lakshmi, the Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has confirmed. Two other names the Indian high commission in Sri Lanka gave out were of Narayan Chandrashekar and Ramesh. India has sent in medical teams to Sri Lanka to provide help to the needy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up his counterpart in Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremasinghe and conveyed his condolences and promised whatever assistance possible from this side.
Notably, Sri Lanka’s police chief had issued a nationwide alert 10 days ago, saying terrorist attacks were likely in churches and similar places. “A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheet Jama’at) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo,” the police chief had said.
The curfew would be reimposed at night on Monday, police said. IHN-NN
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