Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) personnel gesture outside a house during a raid — after a suicide blast had killed police searching the property — in the Orugodawatta area of the capital Colombo on 21 April, 2019, following a series of blasts in churches and hotels. Photo: AFPSeven suicide bombers took part in the devastating attacks on churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka that killed 290 people and wounded more than 500, a senior investigator said on Monday.Two of the suicide bombers blew themselves up at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel on Colombo’s seafront, said Ariyananda Welianga, a senior official at the government’s forensic division. The others targeted three churches and two other hotels.A fourth hotel and a house in a suburb of the capital Colombo were also targeted, but it was not immediately known how the attacks were carried out.”Still the investigations are going on,” Welianga said.There was no claim of responsibility for the Easter Sunday attacks, which mainly took place during church services or at hotel breakfast buffets.”Guests who had come for breakfast were lying on the floor, blood all over,” an employee at Kingsbury Hotel, one of those targeted, told Reuters.”We just picked up everyone, dead or alive and evacuated them.”Four of the bombs went off at roughly the same time, at 8.45 a.m., with two others coming within 20 minutes. The explosions at the fourth hotel and the house were in the afternoon.Sri Lankans accounted for the bulk of the dead and wounded although government officials said 32 foreigners were killed, including British, U.S., Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday, a government source said. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.The U.S. State Department said in a travel advisory “terrorist groups” were continuing to plot possible attacks in Sri Lanka and targets could included tourist spots, transport hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, airports and other public areas.The government announced a curfew in Colombo from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. A Sunday night curfew was lifted in the morning.The Sri Lankan military, who were clearing the route from Colombo airport late on Sunday in preparation for Sirisena’s return, found a crude bomb near the departure gate, an air force spokesman said.They destroyed the device in a controlled explosion.There were fears the attacks could spark a renewal of communal violence, with police also reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka was at war for decades with ethnic minority Tamil separatists but violence had largely ended since the government victory in the civil war, 10 years ago.Sri Lanka’s 22 million people include Christian, Muslim and Hindu minority populations.The explosion at the house in the Colombo suburb occurred when security forces raided a house there on Sunday afternoon, several hours after the attack. Police reported an explosion at the house and said three officers were killed.Police said on Monday 24 people had been arrested, all of whom were Sri Lankan.SOCIAL MEDIA BLOCKEDTraffic was uncharacteristically thin in normally bustling Colombo after the island-wide curfew was lifted.Soldiers with automatic weapons stood guard outside major hotels and the World Trade Centre in the business district, where the four hotels were targeted, a Reuters witness said.Scores of people who were stranded overnight at the main airport began making their way home as restrictions were lifted.The government also blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp, making information hard to gather.A British mother and son eating breakfast at the luxury Shangri-La hotel were among those killed, British media reported.An Australian survivor, identified only as Sam, told Australia’s 3AW radio the hotel was a scene of “absolute carnage”.He said he and a travel partner were also having breakfast at the Shangri-La when two blasts went off. He said he had seen two men wearing backpacks seconds before the blasts.”There were people screaming and dead bodies all around,” he said. “Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don’t know if they were dead or not, just crazy.”There were similar scenes of carnage at two churches in or near Colombo, and a third church in the northeast town of Batticaloa, where worshippers had gathered for Easter Sunday services. Pictures from the scene showed bodies on the ground and blood-spattered pews and statues.Dozens were killed in one of the blasts at the Gothic-style St. Sebastian church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo. Police said they suspected that blast was a suicide attack.DOMESTIC FEUDWickremesinghe acknowledged on Sunday that the government had some prior information about possible attacks on churches involving a little-known Islamist group but said ministers had not been told.The apparent lapse could feed into a feud between the prime minister and the president.Sirisena fired the premier last year and installed opposition strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his stead. Weeks later, he was forced to re-instate Wickremesinghe because of pressure from the Supreme Court but their relationship is still fraught as a presidential election nears.
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on a house fire that injured four and left six children missing (all times local):11:10 a.m.A fire official says six children are presumed dead after a fire tore through a northeast Baltimore home.Baltimore City firefighters remain on the scene early Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, after a fire on Springwood Avenue in northeast Baltimore. Several children and an adult were taken to an area hospital. Six children are still missing. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)Fire department spokesman Chief Roman Clark said Thursday that one body has been found at the home and six children from the family who were missing after the fire are presumed dead.Clark says responding firefighters found heavy fire coming from all three floors of the northeast Baltimore home when they arrived early Thursday.A woman and three other children were injured. Clark says she and two of the children are in critical condition and the third child is in serious condition.___10:55 a.m.A neighbor says a fire at a Baltimore home that injured four and left six children missing was a complete inferno.Fifty-five year-old Michael Johnson lives a block away from the home where the fire broke out early Thursday, injuring a woman and three children. Fire officials say six other children are unaccounted for.Johnson says fire was coming out of every window and as firefighters sprayed it, “it seemed like the fire was fighting back.” He added that he was praying for the people inside. He says it was so intense that he didn’t think anyone would survive.Johnson says he saw a woman come out of the house screaming.___10:30 a.m.The father of the children who were injured and missing after a fire in Baltimore says one of the children has been released from the hospital.William Malone told The Associated Press that he was not home at the time of the fire early Thursday because he was at work for a restaurant. Malone said one of the three children who were taken to the hospital after the blaze has since been released.Malone said he had no update on the status of the six children who were missing. Malone said all nine are his children with Katie Malone, a staff member of Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district office. William Malone said Katie Malone, who was also injured in the fire, is in stable condition.William Malone said he is “still in shock” about the fire. He said he does not know what may have caused the fire.___9:50 a.m.A Baltimore Congressman says a fire that injured four and left six children missing involved a staffer from his district office and her family.Baltimore City firefighters remain on the scene early Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, after a fire on Springwood Avenue in northeast Baltimore. Several children and an adult were taken to an area hospital. Six children are still missing. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)Rep. Elijah Cummings said in a statement Thursday that Katie Malone has worked as a special assistant in his Catonsville office for nearly 11 years. He says she serves constituents in the areas of immigration, postal services, and the military, including service academy nominations. He says “this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all.”Fire department spokesman Chief Roman Clark says responding firefighters found heavy fire coming from all three floors of the northeast Baltimore home when they arrived early Thursday. He says the woman and two of the children are in critical condition and the third child is in serious condition. He says another six children who live at the home are unaccounted for.The cause is under investigation.7:20 a.m.A fire official says a woman and three children are injured and six more children are unaccounted for after a house fire in northeast Baltimore.Fire department spokesman Chief Roman Clark says responding firefighters found heavy fire coming from all three floors of the home when they arrived early Thursday.Clark says a woman and three children escaped the home. He says the woman and two children are in critical condition and the third child is in serious condition. He says another six children who lived at the home are unaccounted for.Clark says the third floor collapsed and the second floor partially collapsed. He says the blaze is contained, but hasn’t been placed under control.The cause is under investigation, but investigators haven’t been able to enter the building.