Sri Lanka - updates

Rappler's latest stories on Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka faces costliest election, longest ballot paper

Oct 08, 2019 - 7:32 PM

Thirty five candidates are running in the November 16 poll, the highest number in any single ballot

COSTLIEST ELECTION. Sri Lankan troops keep watch and hold back party supporters outside the election commissioner's office in Colombo on October 7, 2019 shortly after candidates contesting for next month's presidential election handed in the nomination papers. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka's Rajapakse clan steps up new bid for power

Oct 07, 2019 - 10:37 PM

Gotabhaya Rajapakse is frontrunner in the campaign for the November 16 election, even though his bid is widely seen as a front to get Mahinda back into power

ELECTIONS. Gotabhaya Rajapakse (R), the former secretary to the ministry of defense and brother of Sri Lanka's opposition leader and former president Mahinda Rajapakse (L), waves to supporters in Colombo on October 7, 2019, after filing his nomination papers to contest the upcoming presidential election. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka president abandons reelection bid

Oct 06, 2019 - 6:06 PM

Two of ex-president Mahinder Rajapakse's brothers have paid deposits to be candidates

OUTGOING PRESIDENT. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena speaks at an event. File photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

Sri Lanka orders fresh probe into Easter suicide bombings

Sep 22, 2019 - 6:32 PM

The commission will have wide judicial powers to gather evidence on those responsible for the bombings, and to probe security and intelligence lapses

EASTER ATTACKS. In this file photo, security personnel stand guard near St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 24, 2019, 3 days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Sri Lanka court rejects Easter bomb murder charge against officials

Jul 09, 2019 - 11:51 PM

Police Inspector General Pujith Jayasundara and former defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando are represented in court after being arrested last week on charges their negligence led to the attacks

EASTER ATTACKS. A general view of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 29, 2019, a week after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. File photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka president vetoes military deal with U.S.

Jul 06, 2019 - 9:59 PM

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena thumbs down a deal that would allow US troops access to the country's ports. Its strategic port in Hambantota is on a 99-year lease with China

SIRISENA. In this file photo, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena gestures after being sworn in at Independence Square in Colombo on January 9, 2015. File photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP

Sri Lanka police chief arrested over Easter attacks failures

Jul 02, 2019 - 8:11 PM

An official says Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara and former defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando were at different hospitals undergoing treatment when detectives arrested them

EASTER ATTACKS. Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. File photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Police chief faces crimes against humanity charge over Sri Lanka attacks

Jul 01, 2019 - 11:31 PM

'Their negligence amounts to what is known under international law to be grave crimes against humanity,' says Attorney General Dappula de Livera

EASTER BOMBINGS. Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. File photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Top Sri Lanka defense official faces charges over Easter attacks

Jun 24, 2019 - 11:49 PM

Hemasiri Fernando should be investigated for his failure to prevent or minimize the attacks, says Attorney General Dappula de Livera

Sri Lanka President seeks to roll back his political reforms

Jun 23, 2019 - 7:56 PM

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena says the 19th amendment to the constitution 'has triggered instability' and led to a power struggle

FOR PEACE. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena vows to do anything to combat jihadists. File photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

Sri Lanka extends emergency in surprise move

Jun 22, 2019 - 2:03 PM

There is no immediate word from the government on why President Maithripala Sirisena changed his mind on relaxing the tough laws imposed after the Easter Sunday attacks

Sri Lankan soldiers secure an area near St. Anthony's Shrine after a car explosion in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - The death toll from bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka rose dramatically April 22 to 290 -- including dozens of foreigners -- as police announced new arrests over the country's worst attacks for more than a decade. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Sri Lanka to charge police for 'lapses' over Easter attacks

Jun 20, 2019 - 11:25 PM

Nine police officers will face 'criminal investigations' for failing to act on warnings ahead of the April 21 bombings on 3 churches and 3 hotels carried out by Islamic State-backed jihadists

AFTERMATH. Sri Lankan security personnel and police investigators look through debris outside Zion Church following an explosion in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. File photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachichi/AFP

Bombed Catholic church in Sri Lanka attacks reopens

Jun 13, 2019 - 12:10 PM

Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith leads reconsecration of newly restored St Anthony's and says there were doubts whether the island could pull itself out of crisis after the coordinated suicide bombings on April 21

REOPENS. File photo of Sri Lankan navy personnel carry on repair works on the facade of St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on May 2, 2019. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

India's Modi makes unscheduled stop at bombed Sri Lanka church

Jun 09, 2019 - 8:55 PM

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a detour to St Anthony's shrine on the way to President Maithripala Sirisena's office

Sri Lanka Muslim ministers resign en masse over Easter bombings

Jun 03, 2019 - 11:21 PM

The resignations of 9 government legislators come after a Buddhist monk lawmaker supporting President Maithripala Sirisena demanded the sacking of 3 top Muslim politicians

EASTER BOMBINGS. In this file photo, Sri Lankan security personnel and police investigators look through debris outside Zion Church following an explosion in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. File photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Police chief blames president for failing to prevent Sri Lanka attacks

Jun 02, 2019 - 5:05 PM

Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara cites 'serious communication gaps' between intelligence agencies and security arms of the government, all which fall under Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena

TRAGEDY. Sri Lankan security personnel walk through debris following an explosion in St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, north of the capital Colombo, on April 21, 2019. Photo by STR/AFP

Sri Lanka to relax emergency in a month – president

May 27, 2019 - 8:50 PM

'The emergency was declared to deal with the immediate security situation. However, it will not be necessary to extend this any further,' says Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

STATE OF EMERGENCY. In this file photo, Sri Lankan navy personnel carry on repair works on the facade of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on May 2, 2019, after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. File photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka detain nearly 100 in anti-Islamist swoops

May 26, 2019 - 7:27 PM

Some 3,000 military personnel are deployed in and around the capital as well as other key towns for cordon-and-search activities

UNREST. Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard after clashes erupted between Christian and Muslim communities in Negombo on May 6, 2019. Photo by STR/AFP

Sri Lanka extends emergency a month after suicide bombings

May 22, 2019 - 10:21 PM

Sri Lanka's president issues a proclamation saying that the emergency will continue for another 30 days, citing 'public security'

SECURITY. In this file photo, Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside the church premises following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019.  File photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP

Fake news rampant after Sri Lanka attacks despite social media ban

May 22, 2019 - 1:21 PM

Social media, aside from being a communication tool, becomes a means to spread confusion and vitriol as the island struggles to come to terms with one of the worst terror attacks in its history

GUARD. Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Sri Lanka DNA tests confirm Easter attacks ringleader was hotel bomber

May 22, 2019 - 7:34 AM

A Sri Lanka police spokesman says the government's main forensic laboratory matched Hashim's daughter's DNA with the remains of one of the bombers at the hotel

TRAGEDY. Sri Lankan security personnel walk through debris following an explosion in St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, north of the capital Colombo, on April 21, 2019. Photo by STR/AFP

Safe for Catholic schools to reopen – Sri Lanka army

May 21, 2019 - 2:59 PM

Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake says security forces would ensure schools were not targeted by Islamic militants responsible for the April 21 bombings

SCHOOL DUTY. Sri Lankan bomb disposal squad officers use a sniffer dog to check for explosives at a school in Colombo on May 5, 2019, ahead of the reopening of all public schools after an extended Easter holiday. Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP

Sri Lanka president vows to eliminate jihadist threat

May 19, 2019 - 10:27 PM

'With experience from a war that lasted over 3 decades, we are now compelled to meet a completely different threat,' President Maithripala Sirisena says

Sri Lanka Muslims pray at vandalized mosques

May 17, 2019 - 6:13 PM

Police say security will remain tight over the weekend for a major Buddhist festival as well as the 10th anniversary of the ending of the country's decades-long Tamil separatist war

AFTERMATH. A Muslim man stands in front of the Jumha mosque after a mob attack in Minuwangoda on May 14, 2019. File photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka situation 'under control' after anti-Muslim riots

May 15, 2019 - 3:38 PM

Many Muslims have been bracing for revenge attacks since 3 churches and 3 luxury hotels were bombed by local Islamist extremists on April 21, killing 258 people

STANDING GUARD. A Sri Lankan security personnel looks on as he stands guard at a checkpoint on a roadside in Colombo on May 13, 2019. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Escalating Sri Lankan anti-Muslim riots claim first life

May 14, 2019 - 9:08 PM

Violence breaks out late Monday, May 13, 3 weeks after terrorist bombings killed 258 people. Rampaging mobs carry out arson attacks, while 2,000 people vandalize a mosque, witnesses say.

SRI LANKA CURFEW. A Sri Lankan security personnel inspects a car as he blocks a road in Colombo on May 13, 2019. Photo by Lakruqan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Fresh curfews, social media block in Sri Lanka after riots

May 13, 2019 - 7:37 PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urges the public not to believe rumors and warns civil unrest will only stretch the already thinly deployed security forces

NETWORK SHUTDOWN. This photo illustration shows a mobile browser unable to connect to Facebook, following the Sri Lankan government's island-wide social network shutdown, in Colombo on May 13, 2019. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka town under curfew after anti-Muslim attacks

May 12, 2019 - 7:37 PM

Authorities say mobs are attacking Muslim-owned businesses

Sri Lanka Catholics hold first Sunday Mass after Easter attacks

May 12, 2019 - 4:15 PM

Security is tight as Catholic churches resume Masses in Sri Lanka on Sunday, May 12, following the April 21 bombings

Sri Lankan Catholic devotees pray during a mass at the St. Theresa's church as the Catholic churches hold services again after the Easter attacks in Colombo on May 12, 2019. - Thousands of Catholics attended mass in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo on May 12 amid tight security to prevent a repeat of Easter bomb attacks that killed 258 people. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP)

Sri Lanka Catholic schools to reopen after attacks

May 09, 2019 - 5:54 PM

All state-run schools – more than 10,000 in total – have resumed classes on Monday, May 6, after police and security forces deployed armed guards

BACK TO SCHOOL. Sri Lankan school students return to classes as schools re-open across the country after the Easter attacks in Colombo on May 6, 2019. Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP

Sri Lanka says jihadi threat persists despite arrests

May 07, 2019 - 1:38 PM

(UPDATED) The St Anthony's church also partially opens for prayers amid tight security even as the military and police guard the historic place of worship dating back to 1740

STANDING GUARD. Soldiers stand guard outside a mosque ahead of the Friday noon prayer in Colombo on April 26, 2019, following a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. File photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Sri Lanka expels 200 Islamic clerics after Easter attacks

May 05, 2019 - 6:05 PM

Over 600 foreign nationals are expelled in Sri Lanka after a security crackdown showed they have overstayed their visas

EASTER ATTACKS. Security personnel stand guard near St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 24, 2019, 3 days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Sri Lanka Catholics say lonely prayers as churches close for 2nd week

May 05, 2019 - 2:45 PM

With churches closed, the country's Catholics had to make do with a second televised mass on Sunday

CANCELED MASSES. A cross is pictured the residence of Catholic Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, in Colombo on April 30, 2019. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka to air Sunday mass on TV as attack threat persists

May 04, 2019 - 9:03 PM

Police, meanwhile, are stepping up search operations over the weekend ahead of a planned re-opening of public schools after an extended Easter vacation

GUARDED. Sri Lankan navy personnel carry on repair works on the facade of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on May 2, 2019, after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

More Sri Lanka attacks feared as Muslims condemn Easter bombs

May 03, 2019 - 10:04 PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe hopes normality will return by Monday, May 6, when public schools reopen after an extended Easter vacation

Sri Lanka mass canceled over fresh attack fears

May 02, 2019 - 4:40 PM

(UPDATED) The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says that a 'reliable foreign source' has alerted him to possible attacks this weekend

CANCELED MASSES. A cross is pictured the residence of Catholic Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, in Colombo on April 30, 2019. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Sri Lanka attacks death toll rises to 257

May 02, 2019 - 3:22 PM

Authorities warn the final number of dead from the April 21 attacks on three churches and three Colombo hotels would rise further

MORE DEATHS. Priests and relatives carry the coffin of a bomb blast victim after a funeral service at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. File photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Sri Lanka names Easter suicide bombers

May 01, 2019 - 11:44 PM

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera confirms that two of the luxury hotels were bombed by two brothers from a wealthy Colombo family involved in spice exports

STANDING GUARD. Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. File photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Sri Lanka Catholics to resume mass 2 weeks after attacks

Apr 30, 2019 - 5:08 PM

'But we will start with a smaller number of masses and see if we can slowly increase it depending on how the situation develops,' says Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith

Sri Lanka says 42 foreigners among Easter victims

Apr 30, 2019 - 2:30 PM

Another 12 foreigners remain unaccounted for and could be among still unidentified bodies at Colombo's police morgue, foreign ministry officials say

ST. ANTHONY'S SHRINE. A general view of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 29, 2019, a week after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachichi/AFP

Sri Lanka suspends police chief over Easter attacks

Apr 29, 2019 - 7:54 PM

Chief of police Pujith Jayasundara had refused to quit to clear the way for a shake-up of the 85,000-strong force, prompting President Maithripala Sirisena to suspend him on April 29

Tears and troops on streets as Sri Lanka mourns suicide bomb dead

Apr 28, 2019 - 10:33 PM

(UPDATED) In a sign of the tensions, the reopening of schools across Sri Lanka has been put back one week. Meanwhile, authorities keep up a 10 pm to 4 am nationwide curfew.

PRAYERS. Devotees pray at a barricade near St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 28, 2019, a week after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Cardinal condemns suicide bombings as Sri Lanka marks one week from attacks

Apr 28, 2019 - 12:13 PM

'What happened last Sunday is a great tragedy, an insult to humanity,' says Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo

PRAYERS. Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP

Sri Lankan man who confronted bomber at church door remembered

Apr 27, 2019 - 9:58 PM

Ramesh Raju is one of 29 people that media reports say died in the blast at Zion, one of 3 churches and 3 hotels targeted by Jihadist bombers

Silent streets after dozens of children killed in Sri Lanka attacks

Apr 27, 2019 - 3:56 PM

'These streets are usually full of children playing,' says Suraj Fernando, whose own 12-year-old grandson Enosh was among those killed. 'Now everybody is inside because they are sad and scared.'

Ranjeewa Silva 46, father of St Sebastian's Church suicide blast victim Enosh Silva, 12, cries next to Enosh's portrait at his house, in Negombo on April 24, 2019. The streets of Sri Lanka's Katuwapitiya should be full of the sound of children's games. But after deadly Easter attacks that killed at least 45 children, they have fallen silent.  LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

15 die as Sri Lanka forces raid Islamist hideout – police

Apr 27, 2019 - 2:38 PM

The 3 men set off explosives killing 3 women and 6 children inside what was believed to an Islamist safe house near the eastern town of Kalmunai, Sri Lanka

RAID. Soldiers evacuate an injured child after they raid what believed to be an Islamist safe house in the eastern town of Kalmunai on April 27, 2019. AFP Photo

Sri Lanka police wrongly ID American Muslim over attacks

Apr 26, 2019 - 3:03 PM

Sri Lankan police on Thursday issue a statement confirming the photo published alongside the name 'Abdul Cader Fathima Khadhiya' was not in fact of the suspect

GUARDING MOSQUES. Soldiers stand guard outside a mosque ahead of the Friday noon prayer in Colombo on April 26, 2019, following a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Australia warns more terror attacks 'likely' in Sri Lanka

Apr 26, 2019 - 12:46 PM

'Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners,' Australia's foreign ministry says

SRI LANKA. Sri Lankan soldiers secure an area near St. Anthony's Shrine after a car explosion in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka over 'concrete threat'

Apr 25, 2019 - 9:36 PM

The recommendation from Israel's counterterrorism bureau says it is issuing the travel warning after consultations with security and foreign ministry officials

AFTERMATH. Sri Lankan security personnel and police investigators look through debris outside Zion Church following an explosion in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachichi/AFP

Sri Lanka Catholic churches halt public services over security fears

Apr 25, 2019 - 4:38 PM

(UPDATED) Authorities make fresh arrests and step up security measures as the government faces pressure over its failure to act on Indian intelligence warnings

Security personnel stand guard in front of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka began a day of national mourning on April 23 with three minutes of silence to honour more than 300 people killed in suicide bomb blasts that have been blamed on a local Islamist group. Jewel SAMAD / AFP