Sri Lanka security cam footage shows moments of deadly hotel bombing
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Sri Lanka security cam footage shows moments of deadly hotel bombing

Newly released video also shows bombers in several other locations shortly before the Easter attacks that killed at least 250 people

Footage of the explosion at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019 (YouTube screenshot)
Footage of the explosion at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019 (YouTube screenshot)

Media in Sri Lanka on Saturday aired chilling footage of one of the deadly bombings that took place in the capital of Colombo on Easter Sunday.

The footage shows the moments a suicide bomber detonated his bomb at the Kingsbury Hotel.

The CCTV footage shows the bomber checking into the hotel a day before the attacks, as well as the moments following the blast.

Other footage shows bombers at the Shangri-La Hotel and Cinnamon Hotel scoping out the territory prior to the attacks.

Another video shows a bomber on the street moments before he entered St. Sebastian’s Church in the capital and detonated his backpack bomb.

On Saturday, police said 15 people, including six children, died in a battle between Sri Lankan security forces and suicide bombers who blew themselves up in the latest fallout from the Easter attacks.

Three men set off explosives that killed themselves, three women and six children inside what was believed to be a jihadist hideout near the eastern town of Kalmunai.

“Three other men, also believed to be suicide bombers, were found dead outside the house,” police said in a statement. They were shot dead by security forces, police added.

Security forces tried to storm the house late Friday and a one-hour long gun battle ensued before the explosions, a military official said.

A civilian was also killed in the crossfire during the raid near the predominantly Muslim town. Hundreds of families later fled their homes.

Police and troops have stepped up searches after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels, which killed at least 253 people and injured 500.

Kalmunai is in the same region as Kattankudy, the hometown of the jihadist Zahran Hashim, who founded the group accused of staging the attacks.

Sri Lankan Navy soldiers work to clean St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on April 27, 2019, following a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Authorities said a series of tip-offs after the arrest of Hashim’s driver, Mohamed Sharif Adam, in Kattankudy led them to the safe house.

Officials said the driver provided information leading to a raid on Friday on a hideout south of Kattankudy, where they believe Hashim and other bombers recorded a video pledging allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out the attacks.

Authorities named members of Hashim’s group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), as the perpetrators of the attacks. They announced Friday that he had been killed in the bombing of the Shangri-La Hotel.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena used emergency powers to ban the NTJ and a splinter group identified as Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI), his office said in a statement Saturday.

“All movable and immovable property of these two organizations will be confiscated,” the statement said.

The government is on the defensive over its failure to heed a foreign intelligence warning that NTJ was planning suicide bombings on churches.

Police chief Pujith Jayasundara became the second high-ranking official to resign over the blunders Friday, after top defense ministry official Hemasiri Fernando stepped down.

Sri Lanka’s Catholic leader, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, has said he felt “betrayed” by the government’s failure to act on the warnings.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe apologized on Friday.

“We take collective responsibility and apologise to our fellow citizens for our failure to protect victims of these tragic events,” he wrote on Twitter.

Amid fears of new attacks, the Roman Catholic church has suspended all public services across the country until security is guaranteed by the government.

A Sri Lankan soldier stands guard on a street in Colombo on April 27, 2019, following a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

The archbishop, who has appealed to Catholics to stay home and say private prayers, is to hold a special mass at his official residence Sunday, which will be broadcast live on television.

Some groups were expected to hold public vigils in Colombo and Negombo, where St. Sebastian’s Church suffered some of the worst casualties in the bombings.

The military has poured troops onto the streets to back up police in search for suspects, using newly granted powers under a state of emergency.

At least 94 people are in custody, including a man believed to be the father of two of the bombers. Authorities warned the hunt would continue.

“We now have info that there are about 140 people in Sri Lanka linked to the Islamic State. We can and we will eradicate all of them very soon,” Sirisena said Friday, when he announced the new legislation to tackle extremist groups.

Dozens of foreigners died in the attacks and the government has said it expects the number of overseas tourists to fall by 30 percent this year, at a cost of $1.5 billion in revenues.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the island, which depends on tourism as a cornerstone of its economy, could take up to two years to fully recover.

The United States, Israel, Australia, India and Britain have all warned their citizens against visiting Sri Lanka.

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