SriLankan Airlines will fly out bodies of foreign nationals killed in series of explosions on Easter Sunday, says spokesperson

FP Staff
Based on what has emerged so far on Sri Lanka blasts, it's clear that there is a very dangerous force at work, which may call itself the Islamic State or may be something that uses the name for its own quasi political purposes

The SriLankan airlines decided to fly out the bodies of foreign nationals killed in the series of coordinated bombings on Easter Sunday, targeting hotels and churches, said the spokesperson on Wednesday.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera released the toll count, which rose to 359, but did not give a breakdown of casualties from the three churches and four hotels hit by suicide bombers. The additional deaths were the result of the wounded dying of their injuries. At least 500 people were injured in the attacks.

Earlier, Indian airline carriers, including IndiGo and Air India, in the wake of the bombings had announced to waive off rescheduling and cancellation charges till 24 April on all flights in and out of the Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport.

The statement by IndiGo read€" "In light of the recent events in Colombo, we are providing full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all flights to/from Colombo for travel scheduled till 24 April, 2019. Our prayers are with the affected."

Similarly, Air India, which reportedly operates two daily flights to Colombo, had also made a similar announcement on Twitter. "In view of the situation in #Srilanka #AirIndia has waived off all charges for rescheduling/cancellation of bookings on its flts to/from Colombo for travel till April 24, 2019," the airline tweeted. Incidentally, Air India Express, too, flies a daily Chennai-Colombo flight, an official told PTI.

The blasts were claimed by the Islamic State on Tuesday, with Sri Lanka's government pointing the finger at the little-known local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) and also claiming that the group likely had "international" support.

"Certainly the security apparatus is of the view that there are foreign links and some of the evidence points to that," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told media on Tuesday night.

"We've been following up on this claim, there were suspicions that there were links with ISIS," he added, using another name for the IS.

Overnight, Sri Lankan police carried out fresh raids, detained 18 more suspects in their hunt for those involved in the attacks.

Gunasekera said the suspects were held in a search operation carried out by police and security forces using emergency powers

"Based on information, we raided three locations and arrested 17 suspects," Gunasekera said. "Another suspect was arrested at a fourth location."

Police say they have taken 58 people into detention since the Sunday blasts.

The Police spokesman said the raids were part of security operations to track down any individuals linked to suicide bombing strike against three churches and three hotels which the Islamic State group has claimed.

The security swoop came after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that more Islamist radicals could be on the run and he was unable to rule out the possibility of further bombings.

"There are a few more people on the run," said Wickremesinghe, adding "So we've got to apprehend them."

In addition to arming security forces with powers to detain suspects for up to three months, the authorities have also imposed a night-time curfew since Sunday's deadly attacks.

With inputs by 101Reporters and agencies 

Also See: Sri Lanka blasts: Toll rises to 359; Ranil Wickremesinghe says claims of Islamic State link to suicide bomb attacks being probed

Islamic State releases photos of eight attackers involved in Sri Lanka blasts, but names only seven of them

Sri Lanka bomb blasts: Islamic State fighters carried out explosions that killed 321 and injured over 500, claim security sources

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