Sri Lankan Air Force defuses improvised bomb near Colombo airport: Reports
Day after eight bombs ripped apart island nation Sri Lanka, an improvised explosive device was defused near Colombo airport on Monday. According to an AFP report, the pipe bomb was neutralised by a team of the Sri Lankan Air Force. A police source told AFP that a "homemade" pipe bomb had been found late Sunday on a road leading towards the main terminal. Airforce spokesperson Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said the IED was believed to be locally manufactured.
Easter celebrations turned into national mourning as a series of blasts rocked the island nation on Sunday. In one of the worst attacks in decades, 215 people, including three Indians were killed and around 500 injured on Sunday. The blasts - one of the deadliest attacks in the country's history - 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 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. 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, identified the three Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. "Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals," she said in a tweet. Around 500 people, including Indians, were injured in the attacks. No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks.
President Maithripala Sirisena has appealed for calm. "I have been shocked by this totally unexpected incidents. The security forces haven been asked to take all action necessary," Sirisena said. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe termed the blasts as "cowardly attacks" and said his government was working to "contain the situation."
Security has been intensified around the religious places across the capital. The government has temporarily blocked all social media platforms. The Indian High Commission in Colombo said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka.
All state Universities have been closed until further notice. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said all Easter masses in the Colombo District have been cancelled.
Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka, where the majority are Buddhists. Christians account for less than 10 per cent of the total population of 21.4 million.
Sunday's attacks are the deadliest seen in Sri Lanka since the end of the country's civil war in 2009. The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.