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 AFP 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 AFP.
“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.
The blast at St Anthony’s Shrine, an historic Catholic Church, was so powerful that it blew out much of the roof, leaving roof tiles, glass and splintered wood littering the floor that was strewn with bodies.
Authorities have not said who staged the attacks. But all suffered major casualties and damage. Many of the 35 foreigners killed in the blasts were at the hotels, officials said.
– ‘Shock, grief and mourning’ –
“There was utter chaos, but we rushed all the injured to hospital in a very short time,” the Cinnamon Grand manager said.
“About 20 people were seriously wounded and we sent them to the National Hospital.”
The hotel is close to the Sri Lankan prime minister’s official residence and Special Task Force commandos were quickly at the scene.
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.
An AFP photographer saw extensive damage in the second floor restaurant at the hotel, with windows blown out and electrical wires hanging from the ceiling.
The Shangri-La said in a statement 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.
“Our immediate priority is to look after the safety and wellbeing of all involved. A Shangri-La crisis management team has been activated to provide all necessary support.”
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.”
“Medical evacuation and treatment of the injured guests and employees were handled immediately.” The hotel said it had been “isolated” for further safety checks.
Nnamdi Kanu Still Our Leader, Not Replaced – IPOB
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it has not replaced the currently detained Nnamdi Kanu as its leader.
The Biafra group asked its followers to ignore the reports making the rounds that IPOB has replaced Kanu, describing it as “fabricated media propaganda”.
These were made known in a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Tuesday.
According to Powerful, Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of the IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
The statement read in part, “We, the global movement and family of IPOB under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, condemn the useless and fabricated media propaganda and blackmail from some media houses that IPOB has another or acting leader replacing our indefatigable liberator and prophet Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“Those peddling this kind of lies are those criminals who zoo gutter media are publishing this to confuse the weak-minded people.
“We want everybody to bear in mind that Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
“It is unfortunate that some mischievous elements twisted an unambiguous statement by IPOB where we clarified that in the meantime that our Leader is in detention, the Head of DOS, Mazi Edoziem, will be providing direction on the day-to-day activities of IPOB. We never said that Edoziem had become the Acting Leader of IPOB.
“For the avoidance of doubts, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu remains the leader of IPOB. The entire IPOB family all over the world is loyal to him. IPOB has no Acting Leader. Chika Edoziem is only the Head of DOS of IPOB not the Leader.
“We, therefore, urge our family members, supporters, friends, and members of the public to ignore the misleading and mischievous media report.”
Terrorists Responsible for Owo Church Massacre in Our Custody – General Irabor
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has said that the military has arrested the terrorists behind the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
General Lucky Irabor according to news monitored on SolaceBase, made the revelation on Tuesday, during a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Appreciating the collaboration with sister security agencies, which helped in the arrests of the criminals, Irabor recalled that about 40 person’s were brutally murdered when heavily armed men invaded their worship centre on June 5, 2022.
My Invitation to Rivers to Commission Projects Demonstration of Politics Without Bitterness – Sanwo-Olu
By Eric Elezuo
The Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said that his invitation by the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, to commission a project in Rivers State, is a clear demonstration of politics without bitterness. This is noting that the Lagos State governor is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Wike is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (APC).
On Monday, Sanwo-Olu was a guest of the Rives governor to commission the Orochiri-Worokwu (Waterlines) Flyover delivered by the state government.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu commended Governor Wike for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“I would like to specially commend my brother, Governor Wike, for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“A commitment that has been recognized by all and sundry, and which has earned him the appellation of “Mr. Projects” within and outside Rivers State,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said though himself and governor Wike belong to different political persuasions, the invitation extended to him sends a very strong message that politicians and political leaders, can come together across political and ideological divides, for the good of the people.
“There is also a strong message being made today about expanding our capacity to play politics without bitterness. This symbolic gesture by my friend and brother is one that should become standard practice across Nigeria.
“There is also a lot that we can learn from one another, and experience that we can translate from one part of the country to the other,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
It will recalled that Wike is in the habit of inviting notable politicians across parties as guests of honour during the unveiling of any of his projects. The likes of governor of Ekiti State, who is also an APC member and Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare were once invited to commission projects in the state.
Governor Wike had explained that the invitation of the Lagos State governor was not the first time persons of other political parties were invited to inaugurate projects in Rivers State, pointing to the overall benefits such invitations have on governance because it served as peer review for them.