The deadly attacks of Sri Lanka awaken under many citizens too familiar memories of past believed violence. "We are in complete shock," said Gagani Weerakoon, deputy news director of the daily Ceylon Today , in a telephone conversation with ZEIT ONLINE. She described the Sri Lankan capital Colombo as a ghost town late Sunday night, involving only officials, journalists and soldiers on the streets. "It was not so long ago that we experienced something like this." She was referring to the Civil War from 1983 to 2009.
April was festive in Sri Lanka. On April 14, Sinhalese and Tamils celebrated New Year. Then it was Easter. Now the Easter Sunday attacks have shaken the country deeply. President Maithripala Sirisena wants to impose a conditional state of emergency. From midnight he should apply. Tuesday was declared National Mourning Day. Meanwhile, the police have discovered numerous other detonators, and in the defusing of a car bomb in Colombo it should have come to a renewed explosion.
Although no organization has taken responsibility for the attacks themselves. But on Monday afternoon (local time) Sri Lanka's government named the radical Islamic group National Thowheeth Jama'ath as the originator.
Warning from India
Previously, there had been indications of plans for the group. "There was information," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said at a press conference on Sunday. He stated, however, that he had not been informed about the warnings. Many citizens are upset and angry at the failure of his government.
The Indian newspaper The Indian Express , citing anonymous sources, reported that India had leaked intelligence information about a possible attack on churches and the Indian embassy in Colombo to Sri Lanka's authorities. The warnings therefore referred to NationalThowheeth Jama'ath. The group is associated with the corruption of Buddha statues in Sri Lanka and is also active in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The three luxury hotels
On the basis of the Indian information, the Sri Lankan police chief issued a nationwide warning on possible suicide bombers on April 11. Perhaps those responsible for the holidays - and used to ten years of peace - did not respond appropriately.
Several experts and the government suspect international links behind the attacks. Schonda's magnitude of the attacks and the presumptive detailed preparation had indicated the work of an organized terrorist group that deliberately chose religious and tourist locations as targets. Tourism is of central importance to Sri Lanka's economy.
The three churches
KabirTaneja, an expert in terrorism and transnational jihadist groups from India, associates the attacks with similar incidents in other countries. "The attacks were very well coordinated," he says, "by someone who has done that before." The fact that hotels and churches were attacked was interpreted by Taneja as a reference to "a transnational Islamic organization, as we have seen in the recent attacks on churches in Indonesia, the Philippines, Iraq and Syria."
Sri Lanka is an ethnically and religiously very complex country - and therefore full of tensions. According to the 2012 census, 70 percent of the nearly 22 million people are Buddhists, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim, and 7.6 percent Christian.
However, in the almost 30-year civil war between the Tamil Liberation Tigers and the government, religion played a minor role. The war was conducted largely along nationalist and ethnic lines of conflict. But since the end of the war there have been increasingly local tensions and acts of violence between Buddhists and Muslims. In March 2018, for example, hard-line hardline Jews attacked members of the Muslim minority; There were clashes in Kandy and Ampara.
It is unclear whether the attacks of Easter Sunday are connected with it - because this time, Christians were the target. But it could be that some Muslims were radicalized by past attacks. OnTwitter writes the Canadian extremism researcher Amarnath Amarasingam about it. He also mentions rumors that radical Muslim groups are reportedly receiving money from the Gulf States.