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5 Indians among 290 dead in Sri Lanka bombings

Image courtesy: Al Jazeera

Colombo, April 22 (IANS) Five Indians are among the 290 people who have been confirmed dead in the deadly Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, as police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera on Monday confirmed that 24 suspects have been arrested for their involvement in the island’s bloodiest attacks in a decade.

On Monday morning, the Indian High Commission in Colombo confirmed the names of two more Indian victims.

“We sadly confirm the deaths of the following two individuals in the blasts yesterday: K.G. Hanumantharayappa, M. Rangappa,” the Mission said in a tweet.

Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said Hanumantharayappa and Rangappa were part of a seven-member team of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) party, who were touring Colombo. The fate of the rest of the members was not known yet.

The Monday morning tweet came after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday night had confirmed the names of three other Indian nationals — Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh.

As Sri Lanka reeled from the tragedy, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detected near the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on early Monday morning and was disposed in controlled explosion at site by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) personnel, according to the Daily Mirror.

Police spokesperson Gunasekera said that 500 people were injured in the Sunday bombings and were admitted in various hospitals and medical facilities.

He said that the police has seized a van and its driver who is suspected of transporting the suspects into Colombo and also raided a safe house used by the attackers.

No group has yet claimed direct responsibility yet.

Late on Sunday, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said security services had been “aware of information” of possible attacks but that the information had not been acted upon.

There was also a temporary restriction on some social media networks to try and stop misinformation spreading.

The first of the eight blasts took place on Sunday morning in three luxury hotels — Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-la, Kingsbury — in the heart of Colombo and in a church each in Colombo, Negombo, 30 km from here, and in the Tamil-majority Batticaloa town in the island’s east that was once a Tamil Tiger stronghold.

Later in the afternoon, another blast hit a guest house near the zoo in Dehiwala in Colombo, killing two persons, and a housing complex at Dematogoda in the city leaving three policemen dead.