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Sri Lanka Bomb Attacks Targeting Christians Kill Hundreds

On Sunday, the prime minister, Mr. Wickremesinghe, warned the public not to believe what he described as false information circulating online about the bombings.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed on Sunday that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, a photo-sharing service owned by the company, had all been temporarily blocked. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

The Sri Lanka civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2009, pitted the Sinhalese majority against the minority Tamils, whose militants became known for having invented the suicide vest and made suicide bombing their trademark as a tactic in war.

Memories of the urban carnage from Sri Lanka’s conflict remains fresh, particularly for residents of the capital. During the conflict, bombings of airports, bus stations, banks, cafes, and hotels were not uncommon. Several Tamil suicide bombers were women.

One of the hotels targeted on Sunday, the Cinnamon Grand, had been blown up before, in 1984, when it was called the Hotel Lanka Oberoi.

The Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka traces to the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 1500s and the subsequent influence of Portuguese, Dutch and Irish missionaries. Sri Lankan Catholics are largely concentrated in the Colombo-Negombo area.

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said that given Sri Lanka’s history of ethnic and religious violence, it was premature to jump to conclusions about whether radicalized Muslims might have played a role in the bombings.

But the magnitude of the carnage Sunday was extraordinary, even by Sri Lanka’s standards, Ms. Ganguly said.

“In three decades of war, this scale of attack has never happened,” she said. “In terms of serious, religion-based violence, we haven’t really seen that.”

News credit : Nytimes