ColomboThe attacks in Sri Lanka were, according to initial governmental findings, intended as retaliation for the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said Tuesday in the island state parliament. According to him, the number of dead now increased to 311 – including 37 foreigners.
More than 500 injured were treated according to the police still in hospitals. 42 people were therefore in custody. Among them is also a Syrian citizen.
Seven suicide bombers blew themselves up in three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday. An extremist Islamist group linked to the National Thowheeth Jamaath group has carried out the attacks, according to the government, Wijewardene said. Revenge and hatred, not religion, would have motivated the perpetrators.
President Maithripala Sirisena had previously declared a public emergency. The unspecified provisions came into force on the night of Tuesday, which was declared a national day of mourning. In the morning, three minutes of silence were held. Numerous burials were planned. In Negombo, where a church had been attacked on Easter Sunday, there was a mass burial.
On the night of Tuesday again had a curfew applied. To stop the spreading of rumors, access to social media remained blocked.
Sirisena has declared the state of emergency in the interest of public safety, the maintenance of public order and to ensure the supply of goods and services to the population, it said in a statement by the President. The security forces are said to have wide powers, according to his office.
Under the law, these may apply, for example, to house searches without the permission of a court and arrests without a warrant. Such provisions were almost permanently in force during the civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009 – and beyond that until 2011.
Much remained unclear about the perpetrators and their backgrounds. One of the assassins had been arrested a few months ago, according to a Cabinet Minister for damaging Buddha statues. Nine detainees were factory workers who belonged to one of the other perpetrators. More than 20 houses have since been searched, the police said.
Among the killed foreigners is also a German-American, as the Foreign Office announced. According to current information, there are no other German victims, said a spokeswoman on Monday. 14 foreigners are still missing, according to the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry.
The government is convinced that the perpetrators must have had help from abroad. "We do not believe that these attacks were perpetrated by a group of people who were limited to this country," said cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne. "There was an international network without which these attacks would not have succeeded."
According to Senaratne, before the attacks there were indications of plans to attack National Thowheeth Jamaath. Foreign intelligence agencies had already informed on 4 April about possible suicide attacks on churches and tourist resorts in Sri Lanka. "We are responsible, we are very sorry," said Senaratne on behalf of the government.
Sirisena called a team of three to investigate the series and submit a first report in two weeks. The international police organization Interpol announced that it would send specialists with expertise in crime scene investigation, explosives, counterterrorism and victim identification.
Most of the victims had been victims of the attacks in the churches when Easter services were taking place. In the island state, about seven percent of its 20 million inhabitants are Christians. Against the backdrop of the attacks, German politicians from the CDU, the FDP and the Greens lamented the growing threat to Christian minorities in many countries.
"The terror in Sri Lanka joins in various attacks against Christians worldwide," said the Federal Government Commissioner for Religious Freedom, Markus Grübel (CDU), the "World" (Tuesday).
Former Union faction leader Volker Kauder (CDU) said of the "Bild" (Tuesday): "I see with great concern the growing persecution of Christians throughout Asia. Nationalist movements of Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims are becoming increasingly militant here. "
(t) Terror (t) Christchurch (t) Sri Lanka (t) Christians (t) Muslims (t) Explosions (t) CDU (t) FDP (t) Green (t) Crime (t) Extremism (t) Church and Religion (t) Interpol International Criminal Police Organization ICPO (t) Maithripala Sirisena