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Photo: Sri Lanka Tourism

Bombings are major blow to Sri Lanka tourism

The victims include three children of Denmark’s richest man, eight British nationals and people from at least ten countries.

As the number of people known to have been killed in Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings of churches and hotels stretches towards 300, including many foreign tourists, the tragedy is likely to have a devastating impact on the country’s tourism industry.

Police have arrested 24 people, the BBC reports, while six suicide bombers were among those who carried out the attacks. An Islamic group is suspected by the government.

The vicious terror attacks hit three churches in the country and three five-star hotels in the capital Colombo – the Shangri-La, the Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand.

The Sri Lankan authorities have imposed a curfew and restrictions on social media sites while they conduct their investigations. Tourism officials are bracing for serious repercussions. The sector was already strained by political strife in the country.

This is the first time hotels have been directly attacked, which did not happen even during the bloody 30-year civil war. Security has been beefed up at hotels with bags being checked.

Sri Lanka had been expecting 2.5 million tourists this year, up sharply from less than 500,000 in 2008, a year before the civil war ended, TTG Asia reports.

Danish victims
Besides the fatalities, around 500 people were injured in the attacks. At least 35 foreigners are among the dead.

Tragically, three Danish citizens who were killed were all children of Denmark’s wealthiest man Anders Holch Povlsen, chief executive of the clothing retail giant Bestseller.

The Danish Foreign Ministry says there are up to 2,000 Danes currently in Sri Lanka. An air force aircraft has been deployed to Colombo to offer crisis assistance and establish a temporary help desk in the city, the Copenhagen Post reports.

Other fatalities include eight British citizens including two with joint US citizenship, two Australians, one from the Netherlands, a Portuguese citizen, one person from Japan, six Indian nationals, two engineers from Turkey and two Chinese nationals.

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