Lanka bomber queued at hotel buffet before blast - GulfToday

Lanka bomber queued at hotel buffet before blast

Sri-Lanka-blast

Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian’s Church damaged in blast in Negombo on Sunday. Associated Press

The suicide bomber waited patiently in a queue for the Easter Sunday breakfast buffet at Sri Lanka’s Cinnamon Grand hotel before setting off explosives strapped to his back.

Carrying a plate, the man, who had registered at the hotel the night before as Mohamed Azzam Mohamed, was just about to be served when he set off his devastating strike in the packed restaurant, a manager at the Sri Lankan hotel said.

“There was utter chaos,” said the manager, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to speak for the company.

The Taprobane restaurant at the hotel was having one of its busiest days of the year for the Easter holiday weekend. “It was 8:30 am and it was busy. It was families,” the manager told media.

“He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast,” he added.

“One of our managers who was welcoming guests was among those killed instantly.”

The bomber also died. Parts of his body were found intact by police and taken away.

Other hotel officials told how the bomber, a Sri Lankan, checked in giving an address that turned out to be false, saying he was in the city for business.

Two other hotels, the Shangri-La and the Kingsbury, were hit at about the same time, along with three churches packed with worshippers attending Easter Sunday services.

At the Shangri-La, witnesses said they heard two loud blasts and that staff reported some people had been killed. But details of the toll were not immediately given. The Shangri-La said in a statment that the bomb hit at approximately 9:00 am local time at its Table One restaurant.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the casualties and those who have been affected,” it said. The Kingsbury is also one of Colombo’s most expensive hotels, positioned near the city’s World Trade Center.

The toll there was not known.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the hotel said: “On behalf of the entire Kingsbury team we share in the shock, grief and mourning of our entire nation in the aftermath of the recent attack.”

Religious and world leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people on Sunday, including dozens of foreigners - with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.

Hospital sources also said Japanese citizens were among those injured by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels,” he tweeted.

“We stand ready to help!”

British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as “truly appalling”.

“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” she tweeted. Pope Francis expressed his sadness over the attacks during his traditional Easter address at the Vatican.

“I want to express my affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said.

“I would like to reassert that Russia has been and remains a reliable partner of Sri Lanka in combating the threat of international terrorism,” Vladimir Putin said in a Kremlin statement.

“I expect that the masterminds and perpetrators of such a heinous and cynical crime committed in the midst of Easter celebrations will get the punishment they deserve.”

“We strongly condemn these odious acts,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan offered his “profound condolences” to Sri Lanka.

“Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured,” he tweeted.

“My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”

Narendra Modi, the leader of neighbouring India, condemmned the “serial terrorist attacks” in a government statement.

“Terming them as cold-blooded and pre-planned barbaric acts, he pointed out that these attacks were another grim reminder of the most serious challenge posed to the entire humanity by terrorism in our region and the entire world,” the statement added.

Agencies