New Delhi, Apr 22, 2019 : The number of Indians dead in the devastating Sri Lanka blasts has risen to eight, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed on Twitter today. In a series of barbaric suicide blasts on Sunday, the island nation lost nearly 300 people.
The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted two more names of Indians who lost their lives in the attacks. H Shivakumar, Vemurai Tulsiram and S R Nagaraj were identified today by the embassy. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had identified five other Indians killed as KG Hanumantharayappa, M Rangappa, KM Lakshminarayan, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Lakshmana Gowda Ramesh.
The powerful blasts - six in quick succession on Easter morning and then two more hours later - wounded around 500 people. This was the worst violence to hit Sri Lanka since the civil war that ended a decade ago.
Four members of the Janata Dal (Secular) are among those killed. They were part of a seven-member team from the party touring Sri Lanka. In a series of tweets, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy shared the names of his partymen.
A sixth name - PS Rasina, a woman from Kerala - was given out by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. However the Indian High Commission or the foreign ministry have not confirmed this yet.
Another Indian, who was at one of the blast sites has been reported missing. Ms Swaraj said on Twitter they are trying to "find his whereabouts."
Dozens of other foreigners, including those from the UK, US, Japan and the Netherlands are believed to be among those dead.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday prayers were in progress.
Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels - the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.
The Sri Lanka government said it will declare a nationwide emergency from midnight on Monday following the blasts.
The country believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the attacks, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.
A police source told news agency AFP that all 24 people in custody in connection with the attacks belong to an "extremist" group, but did not specify further.
Leaders around the world expressed their condolences and condemned the deadly attacks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and called the suicide bombings in the country "cold-blooded and pre-planned barbaric acts".