Two Australians among hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirms

| 23.04,19. 06:35 AM |

Two Australians among hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirms

Photo:Friends in Australia have started paying tribute to Manik Suriaaratchi and her daughter Alexendria on social media. (Facebook: Lucien Pereira)

An Australian mother and her 10-year-old daughter are among 290 people killed in terrorist attacks on churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.

In a Facebook post to the deceased mother and child, Mr Mawjood said it was "really shocking" they were no longer here.

"You lost your lives on a holy day in a holy place. The sweet memories of Alex and yours will live in our hearts forever. May your souls rest in peace Manik and Alex," he wrote.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it would not comment further "out of respect for the privacy of the family".

Two other Australians, both women, one in her 50s and the other in her 20s, are among hundreds of people who were injured in the Easter Sunday attacks.

Mr Morrison said one woman received shrapnel wounds and the other suffered a broken leg.

Earlier on Monday Sri Lankan authorities confirmed the death toll from the attacks had risen to 290, with around 500 injured.

The coordinated bombings were carried out by seven suicide bombers, Sri Lankan government forensic crime investigator Ariyananda Welianga said.

He said most of the attacks were carried out by lone bombers, but said two attackers struck at Colombo's Shangri-La Hotel.

Authorities also confirmed on Monday they had "prior information" of an imminent attack on churches, up to 10 days before the bombings.

Two government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures.

Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando tweeted: "Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored."

He said his father had heard of the possibility of an attack as well and had warned him not to enter popular churches.

And Mano Ganeshan, the minister for national integration, said his ministry's security officers had been warned by their division about the possibility that two suicide bombers would target politicians.

The police's Criminal Investigation Department, which is handling the investigation into the blasts, will look into those reports, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said.

Bombers were Sri Lankan citizens from militant group

Earlier, Sri Lanka's Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardena described the blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.

Police said 13 suspects had been arrested.

On Monday a government official said domestic militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath was responsible.

All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

News outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported it had seen documents showing that Sri Lanka's police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches".

"A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ [National Thowheeth Jama'ath, a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka] is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," the alert said, according to AFP.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said the attacks could have been thwarted.

"We placed our hands on our heads when we came to know that these deaths could have been avoided. Why this was not prevented?" he said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said there was not an adequate response and there needed to be an inquiry into how the prior information of the attack, which was not shared with ministers, was used.

The Tamil Tigers, once a powerful rebel army known for its use of suicide bombers, was crushed by the government in 2009, and had little history of targeting Christians.

While anti-Muslim feeling has swept the island in recent years, fed by Buddhist nationalists, the island has no history of violent Muslim militants.

The country's small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment in recent years.


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