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Sri Lanka: Eight British Nationals Killed In Easter Sunday Attack
22 April 2019, 12:52 | Updated: 23 April 2019, 12:00
Eight British nationals are believed to have been killed in a terrorist attack in Sri Lanka which targeted churches and tourist hotels on Easter Sunday.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK has said that eight British nationals were among dozens of foreigners who died in the attack.
Manisha Gunasekera said: "As of now I think there is information on eight nationals who have lost their lives, and the other numbers are of other nationals."
It was reported earlier that five Britons, including two with dual US citizenship, were among those who died - with speculation that they include a mother and her 11-year-old son.
It comes as police in Sri Lanka say they're looking into reports that the intelligence community ignored warnings of possible attacks before eight explosions killed more than 290 people and wounded more than 500.
Six nearly simultaneous explosions happened at churches and hotels in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Easter Sunday.
Hours later, there were two further blasts in Dehiwala and Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo.
The US State Department has warned tourists that 'terrorist groups' were continuing to plot possible attacks in Sri Lanka.
The advised travel advisory said that terrorists are likely to target public spaces, including transportation hubs, markets and shopping centres, hotels, clubs and restaurants, and places of worship.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that there was "lots of speculation" but "no hard knowledge" about the perpetrators of the attack, and that "we obviously need to wait for the police in Sri Lanka to do their work".
"If there is any help that the UK can give, we would want to give it," he said.
Police have said that 24 people have been arrested, and three officers died during raids.
Speaking to a press conference, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed rumours that officials had had prior intelligence of forthcoming attacks.
"We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken. Neither I nor the Ministers were kept informed," he said.
"For now the priority is to apprehend the attackers," he added.
Former UN Special Rapporteur told LBC that Sri Lanka's counter terrorism strategy is "bound to have been a major factor" in the Easter Sunday attack on churches and hotels.
Speaking to Andrew Castle, Ben Emmerson QCthat Sri Lanka had "extremely poorly developed counter terrorism strategies" that rely on "systematic torture and other forms of oppression".
"I was there two years ago conducting a review for the united nations of their counter terrorism strategy and it has to be said, and I think it will be said in due course, that poor governance in Sri Lanka is bound to have been a major factor in all of these events."
Britons in Sri Lanka who need help are urged to call the High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 5390639, while people in the UK worried about friends or family are advised to call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 1500.