The terror attack crisis targeting Christians in Sri Lanka appears to be ongoing, keeping the country in fear as more bombs are located and police continue to hunt down the plotters. The country remains in a state of national emergency, with major social media platforms cut as authorities say they are clamping down on “disinformation.”
On Monday police attempted to defuse another bomb found in a van parked near St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Colombo — one of three Christian sites targeted during Easter services on Sunday — after a series of eight bombings took 290 lives and injured many hundreds more. Dramatic video shows what local media said was a controlled explosion by police, but which may have been a failed attempt to defuse the bomb.
A bomb tech can be seen sprinting from the vehicle just as it explodes in the Reuters footage below:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 22, 2019
The footage shows a powerful explosion ripping through a parked white van sending debris shooting through the street and a fireball high into the air.
Though it appears police had cordoned off the area, interestingly in the video produced by Reuters a police officer or bomb tech can be seen running away from the van seconds before it explodes, which suggests something may have gone wrong.
The unidentified man appears unharmed by the explosion but is clearly too close, with his back turned to the explosion and sprinting away.
Local reports say there were no casualties, but the magnitude of the explosion shows the continuing threat of more possible bombs hidden in urban areas. This after police reportedly defused a large pipe bomb at the country’s main international airport later in the day Sunday.
— marlon silva (@marlonjoee) April 22, 2019
Authorities have said 24 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, but identification of the perpetrators or clear claims of responsibility have been murky and slow to come out.
As the Sri Lankan government scrambles to apprehend anyone who conspired with the at least seven suicide bombers who carried out Sunday’s attacks, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed for international help “to find out if there was foreign assistance” to the bombers.
The below local news footage shows police attempting to control the area before and after the blast, with the van smoldering:
A state of emergency is expected to be declared starting at midnight on Monday. The Colombo stock exchange has been closed for the foreseeable future as the capital city tries to process the aftermath of the attacks.
Meanwhile, the climbing death toll has established the attacks in Sri Lanka as the deadliest in South Asia in recent memory.
Here’s a ranking by death toll:
- 290 (as of Monday): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
- 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
- 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
- 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
- 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018
Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, it was revealed that Sri Lankan intelligence agents had tried to alert security officials of the potential threat of a major terror attack from an Islamist group known as the National Thowheeth Jama’th.
The prime minister said that “although information on this issue has been received before, not enough attention was paid to the matter. The fact that ministers were also not informed is also connected to it, but first what we need to do is to ensure the country is not destabilized.” One official said warnings about a possible attack had been received as early as April 4, according to the FT.