Britons advised against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka as Foreign Office warns of ‘the heightened risk of terrorism’ after Easter Sunday bombings that left 359 dead
- Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the decision on Thursday afternoon
- The FCO cited ‘ongoing security operations’ as it warned against travel there
- Easter Sunday bombings left 359 people dead and more than 500 others injured
The Foreign Office has advised against ‘all but essential travel’ to Sri Lanka in the wake of the deadly bomb blasts which killed 360 people last week.
In a statement, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed the FCO had updated its travel advice in light of ongoing security operations in the country and said his priority was ‘keeping Britons safe’.
‘Following the horrific attacks on Easter Sunday, and the ongoing Sri Lankan security operation, I have received updated advice from the Foreign Office and decided to update the travel advice to British nationals to Sri Lanka to advise against all but essential travel,’ Mr Hunt said in a statement.
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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement that the FCO had updated its travel advice in light of ‘ongoing security operations’
Security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo on April 22
‘Our hope is that it will be possible to change this when the current security operation has concluded. My first priority will always be the security of British citizens living and travelling abroad.
‘We all hope the situation will return to normal very soon, and that the Sri Lankan tourism industry is able to get back on its feet following the terrorist attacks. We will do all we can to help the Sri Lankan authorities in the meantime.’
The Foreign Office says Brits still in Sri Lanka should remain vigilant and keep up to dates with developments.
Brits have also been warned to keep a low profile and avoid crowded public places – including religious gatherings and places of worship.
The FCO also recommends they avoid travelling during periods of curfew and keep in touch with family and friends.
Sunday’s coordinated suicide bombings targeted three churches and three hotels, killing at least 359 people and wounding 500 more.
Authorities have blamed a local group, National Towheed Jamaat, for the attack.
A total of eight British nationals were killed in the bombings.
Anita Nicolson, her 14-year-old son Alex and 11-year-old daughter Annabel were killed in the restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel.
Brother and sister Daniel and Amelie Linsey, 19 and 15, who were at college and school in London, also died while on holiday.
Two other Britons who have been named include former firefighter Bill Harrop and his wife, Dr Sally Bradley, from Manchester, who had been living in Australia and were also on holiday.
IT director Lorraine Campbell, 55, was staying at Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand Hotel on a business trip when she also was killed in an explosion.
It comes as the US Embassy in Sri Lanka warned Thursday that places of worship could be targeted for militant attacks over the coming weekend, as police searched for more suspects in the Islamic State-claimed Easter suicide bombings that killed over 350 people.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he believed militants, likely with access to explosives, remained on the loose in the island nation off the southern tip of India. He said they ‘may go out for a suicide attack.’
‘We have rounded up a lot of suspects but there are still active people on the run,’ Wickremesinghe said in an interview. ‘They may be having explosives with them, so we have to find them.’
Police, meanwhile, issued an appeal for information about three women and two men suspected of involvement in the Easter bombings.
The U.S. Embassy’s warning, issued on Twitter, was strikingly specific compared to ones often issued by American diplomatic posts around the world.
‘Sri Lankan authorities are reporting that additional attacks may occur targeting places of worship,’ the tweet said. ‘Avoid these areas over the weekend, starting tomorrow.’
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