Denver man, 40, is first American victim named in Sri Lanka Easter Sunday terror attacks – Daily Mail
Denver man, 40, is the first American victim to be confirmed dead from Sri Lanka Easter Sunday terror attacks that killed at least 290
- Dieter Kowalski, 40, of Denver, traveled to Sri Lanka on business and checked in to Colombo hotel on Sunday
- Hours after checking in to Cinnamon Grand Colombo, a suicide bomber detonated explosive device
- His relatives confirmed his death on Facebook on Monday after frantically looking for information
- Two people with dual US-UK nationalities were killed but it is unclear if Dieter is among them
- Two Canadian families in Alberta say they were informed their cousins were among the dead
- At least 290 people were killed and 450 wounded after eight explosions rocked hotels and churches
- Three British nationals, and two holding dual UK-US nationality, are among the dead, Sri Lankan officials said
- Seven suspects have been arrested after Sri Lanka’s worst violence since the end of its civil war in 2009
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A Denver man who had been missing in Sri Lanka since terror attacks hit on Easter Sunday has been confirmed dead.
Dieter Kowalski, 40, had not been heard from since he landed in Sri Lanka early Sunday morning. He was in the country for work.
On Monday morning, his brother confirmed that he was among those killed by a suicide bomber at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo hotel.
Two people with dual US-UK citizenship were killed in the explosions but it is unclear if Kowalski was among them.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that ‘several’ US citizens were among the victims but the State Department has not given out any additional information.
Scroll down for video
Dieter Kowalski, 40, a resident of Denver, Colorado, who was in Sri Lanka on business, was among those killed in the explosion at the Cinnamon Colombo hotel on Sunday, his family has confirmed
Security forces are on the scene at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka after it was hit by a suicide bomber early Sunday morning
A crime scene official inspects the site of a bomb blast inside a church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, which lost half its roof tiles with the force of the blast
Sri Lankan police have responded in considerable numbers, blocking off the affected sites and sending in crime scene officials to scour for evidence
Kowalski landed safely on the island and checked in to the Cinnamon Grand Colombo hotel at 3.45am on Sunday.
The hotel was hit by a bomb five hours later, one of eight explosions that left nearly 300 people dead. The other attacks targeted churches and hotels.
In a Facebook post on Monday, his grieving brother confirmed his death.
‘It is with great sadness and deep regret that as Dieter’s brother that I confirm that Dieter was among the victims that passed away in Sri Lanka.
‘As we know that Dieter saw his friends as family, we would like to share our grief over this tragic incident. More information to follow. We have all lost a brother today… RIP Dieter,’ he said.
Kowalski posted a message on Facebook announcing his trip to Sri Lanka on Friday
Kowalski’s friends and family had tried to get information about him from the hotel and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka.
He worked for an education technology company. He wrote on his Facebook page that he was traveling to Sri Lanka on business.
A manager at the Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo said the attacker had set off the horrific explosion in a packed restaurant at 8.30am, after waiting in a queue for a breakfast buffet.
Describing the Cinnamon Grand bombing, a hotel manager said the attacker had registered the night before as Mohamed Azzam Mohamed.
The bomber was just about to be served when he set off the explosives which were strapped to his back, killing himself and numerous guests.
The manager said: ‘There was utter chaos. It was 8.30am and it was busy. It was families.
‘He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast. One of our managers who was welcoming guests was among those killed instantly.’
At least 35 foreigners are feared to have been killed in the attacks – including five Britons, two of whom were joint US-UK citizens.
Two Canadian families are also reeling from the news of their loved ones’ deaths.
Dilina Fernando, 17, of Calgary said he was informed on Sunday that two of his male cousins and one of their wives were killed in the attacks, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
M. Lahiru and Sudhiva Fernando, and Lahiru’s wife, M. Diliniee, were among those killed.
‘We’re just kind of shaken up … We hope that the numbers don’t continue to rise, because every minute they’re saying that the death toll is getting higher and higher. It’s just hard to hear,’ Fernando said.
Fernando said his family lived about five minutes from where one of the eight bombings took place.
He said the family was fasting for two days in preparation to observe the Easter holiday.
‘Sunday is the day that we celebrate,’ Fernando said.
‘It’s the day that we’re back on our feet and we celebrate, we have a big mass. ‘For something like that to happen on today of all days, it just hurts that much more.’
Samith Warnakulasuriya, of Edmonton, said a number of his cousins were also killed.
He said he received a call from his mother, who lives in Sri Lanka. She was safe, but the sound of ambulances was heard during the phone call.
‘I was really devastated. I didn’t know what to do. I stopped driving. I was breathless,’ he said.
‘I came home and I was shivering … My family members, nobody would have been thinking about any kind of explosion in the churches, where people pray to God. We are there for peace, for security.’
Kowalski landed safely on the island and checked in to the Cinnamon Grand Colombo hotel in 3.45am on Sunday. He was killed in the explosion five hours later
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemned the the ‘horrifying attacks’ which he said had killed ‘several British nationals’.
Further fatalities are said to include three Indians, two Turks, one Portuguese citizen and an unknown number of Dutch and Chinese nationals.
A bomb was found and safely destroyed at Sri Lanka’s main airport on Sunday evening just hours after coordinated attacks killed 290 people in explosions at churches and five-star hotels on Easter Sunday.
Eight blasts ripped through landmarks around the capital Colombo, and on Sri Lanka’s east coast, targeting Christians, hotel guests and foreign tourists.
More than 450 people were wounded and five British citizens were among the dead.
A a six-foot pipe bomb was later found by air force personal on a routine patrol at the country’s main airport Bandaranaike International, also known as Katunayake Airport or Colombo International.
‘A PVC pipe which was six feet in length containing explosives in it was discovered,’ Air Force Spokesman Gihan Seneviratne told the Sri Lankan Sunday Times.
He said the bomb device was discovered by Air Force personnel on a routine patrol and was disposed by the Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit of the Air Force in a controlled area.
The airport was put ‘on lockdown’ while the security forces examined and detonated the device, according to reports from the scene.
It comes after this morning, six bombs went off in quick succession before another two blasts two hours later in Sri Lanka’s worst violence since the end of its decades-long civil war in 2009.
Blood stains are seen on the wall and on a Jesus Christ statue at the St. Sebastian’s Church after blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka,after the bombing
Many of the statues inside the church remain in place, marked with the bomb blast or with blood, as investigators pick through the rubble
The benches and pews were scattered or reduced to splinters by the blast, one of eight which killed 290 people on Easter Sunday
Sri Lankan security personnel walk next to dead bodies on the floor amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Kochchikade in Colombo on Sunday
A British family staying in one of the targeted hotels narrowly avoided the attack, because they had a lie in and missed breakfast when the bomber struck.
Dr Julian Emmanuel, 48, is staying at the Cinnamon Hotel where the terrorist detonated his suicide vest at around 8.30am.
Speaking from Sri Lanka with wife Maria, 39, daughter Jasintha, 11, and seven-year-old son Neethan, he told The Mirror: ‘We were quite lazy and running late.
‘We are on the ninth floor and breakfast was in the basement, that is where the bomb went off. So we missed it.’
He added: ‘We saw what had happened in the restaurant. But we could have been in the breakfast hall if it were not for the fact we were late – timing is everything I guess.’
The Surrey-based doctor added: ‘We have been so very lucky, very fortunate. It is in the hands of God, that is all you can do.’
He and his family were evacuated and had to stand outside the hotel for two hours, standing next to the scene of destruction as emergency services dealt with the dead and wounded.
‘We saw the aftermath, the carnage, the damage,’ he said.
He told the paper: ‘We saw the casualties, the emergency services arriving, and so we had to explain what had happened to the children. They experienced it at first hand, the saw the army, so they knew that it was a terrorist attack.’
Dr Emmanuel, who was hoping to organise a rugby tour to the country in two years time with an Old Boys rugby club in Old Coulsdon, Surrey, said his children were ‘quite scared’ but reassured by the response by the emergency services.
‘With it being Easter, they saw the message of Easter against the message of terrorism, and how different it was,’ he explained.
The family still intends to visit relatives during their trip.
As details of the horror emerged today, Sri Lankan TV chef Shantha Mayadunne and her London-based daughter Nisanga were among the first victims named.
Seven suspects have been arrested, as it emerged the country’s police chief had warned of an Islamic extremist plot to target ‘prominent churches’ just 10 days earlier, but no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sri Lanka’s defense ministry has now ordered curfew with immediate effect ‘until further notice’ while access to social media messaging services has been shut down.
A woman injured during one of the explosions to rip through Sri Lankan churches on Easter Sunday was taken to hospital in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
Hospital staff push a trolley with a casualty after an explosion at a church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan military stand guard near the explosion site at a church in Batticaloa,with police tape keeping out bysanders
Two Sri Lankan police officers examine evidence and wreckage from the scene of the explosion at a church in Batticaloa
Last photo: Shantha Mayadunne (second left) and her daughter Nisanga (right) were among the victims of the Sri Lanka bomb attacks on Sunday. The family posted this picture of their Easter breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel just before the blast there
Security forces inspect the St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo
More than 400 people have been injured after the initial six near-simultaneous explosions across the country, an official said (pictured: The aftermath in one of the churches)
Security forces inspect the scene after a blast targeting Shangri La hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday
State minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators have identified the culprits behind the ‘terrorist’ attacks (pictuerd: Shangri La hotel, Colombo)
At least 290 people are dead in an Easter Sunday terrorist attack targeting Christians in Sri Lanka after explosions ripped through high-end hotels and churches (pictured: Outside a hospital in Colombo)
Sri Lanka’s defence ministry has now ordered curfew with immediate effect ‘until further notice’, and the Sri Lankan government said it had shut down access to social media messaging services, sources say
A map showing where the eight blasts went off today, six of them in very quick succession on Easter Sunday morning
Pictured: Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter Nisanga. The victims include at least 35 foreigners, believed to include Britons and Americans as well as nationals of Turkey, China, Portugal and the Netherlands
The bombings targeted the luxury Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels as well as St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, all frequented by tourists.
Other blasts were reported at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a majority-Catholic town, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticalo.
Later in the afternoon, two died in a strike at a hotel near a zoo in the south of Colombo, before a suspected suicide bomber killed police officers in the suburb of Orugodawatta in the north of the capital.
Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter Nisanga, believed to have been a student in London, died just moments after sharing a picture of their Easter breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel.
A friend of the family told Gulf News: ‘Nisanga was a very popular girl in college.
‘Besides the fact that she was bright and smart, her mother Shantha Mayadume, a renowned chef, made her more popular in college. She was well respected and an inspirational chef for Sri Lankans.’
Millions of tourists visit Sri Lanka every year but political crisis and religious tension have placed the industry under threat in recent months.
No nation, organisation or group has yet claimed responsibility for the outrage.
Ten days ago, according to documents seen by the AFP new agency, Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers warning Islamist suicide bombers planned to hit ‘prominent churches’.
‘A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,’ the alert said.
The NTJ is a small radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka which has no history of mass fatal attacks, but came to prominence last year linked to the vandalism and desecration of Buddhist statues.
Sri Lankan police officers clear the road as an ambulance drives through carrying injured of church blasts in Colombo
Wreckage: Sri Lankan security personnel inspect the damage at St Anthony’s Shrine following the Easter Sunday bombing
Pictured: The aftermath following an explosion at St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019
Sri Lankan soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony’s Shrine after a blast in Colombo on Easter Sunday this morning
The country’s Prime Minister has called an emergency security council meeting after the bombings, a source said (pictured: Outside Colombo)
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo after bomb blasts on Easter Sunday
Blasts come amid rising religious tension between Buddhists, Muslims and Christians
The Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are the latest flashpoint amid ongoing religious tensions in the island nation.
Sri Lanka has long been divided between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and minority Tamils who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian.
The country remains deeply scarred by its 1983-2009 civil war, when Tamil rebels fought to create an independent homeland.
The rebels were eventually crushed but a religious divide has taken hold in recent years.
A Christian group said there had been 86 cases of discrimination, threats and violence against followers of Jesus last year, with another 26 so far this year.
U.S. officials warned in a 2018 report that Christians had been pressured to close places of worship after they were deemed ‘unauthorised gatherings’.
The report also said Buddhist monks regularly tried to close down Christian and Muslim places of worship.
There have also been attacks on Muslims, with the government forced to declare a state of emergency amid a spate of anti-Muslim rioting.
Hard-line Buddhist groups accuse Muslims of forcing people to convert and destroying sacred Buddhist sites.
One radical Muslim group, the NTJ, has been linked to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues and has also reportedly plotted to attack Christian churches.
Of Sri Lanka’s 22million population, 70 per cent are Buddhist, 13 per cent Hindu, 10 per cent Muslim, and seven per cent Christian, according to a 2012 census.
Britain’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris said British citizens had been caught in the blast, but said he could not yet specify how many had been affected.
Eight people have been arrested and ‘so far the names that have come up are local’, he said, but officials are probing possible foreign links.
A social media ban was also put in place ‘in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread’ in what officials said was a temporary measure, alongside an indefinite curfew.
Condemnation has poured in from world leaders including President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Pope Francis as he gave his Easter message.
President Trump tweeted: ‘Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels. We stand ready to help!’
May said: ‘The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.
The Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, described those behind the attacks as ‘animals’ and called on the authorities to ‘punish them mercilessly’.
A member of the Sri Lankan security forces stands next to a broken Virgin Mary statue at St. Anthony’s Shrine on Sunday
Security forces around the St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo
Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticalao, in the east of the country (pictured: Security forces outside St Anthony’s Shrine)
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: ‘I condemn the heinous terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a sacred day for Christians.
‘The UN stands in solidarity with Sri Lanka as the global community fights hatred and violent extremism together. Holy sites must be respected.’
France’s President Emmanuel Macron labelled the blasts ‘odious’, saying: ‘We are deeply saddened by the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
‘We firmly condemn these odious acts. We stand by the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to the loved ones of the victims on this Easter Sunday.’
The magnitude of the violence recalls the bombings perpetrated by the separatist Tamil Tigers that targeted a bank, a shopping centre, a Buddhist temple and hotels popular with tourists a decade ago.
In 2009 Sri Lankan security forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels who had fought to create an independent homeland for the country’s ethnic minority Tamils.
Bags containing dead bodies are carried outside the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo on Sunday
Pictured: A woman is helped near St Anthony’s Shrine after a blast in Colombo. At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official said
At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official said.
‘A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,’ read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.
Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticalao, in the east of the country.
Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of St Anthony’s church had been almost blown off in the blast, with roof tiles, glass and splintered wood littering the floor.
Witness N. A. Sumanapala, who was at his shop near the church when the blast happened, said: ‘It was a river of blood.’
Another witness, Gabriel, said his brother was at mass at the church and tourist landmark when the explosion ripped through it.
‘A piece of roof fell on his head, and he was bleeding heavily from his ear,’ he said. ‘We are all in shock. We don’t want the country to go back to that dark past where we had to live in fear of suicide blasts all the time.’
Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.
Billionaire ASOS owner Anders Holch Povlsen has lost three of his four children in the Sri Lanka terror attacks on Easter Sunday that killed a total of 290 people.
Just days before the devastating attacks, one of Povlsen’s children, Alma, shared a snap of her three siblings Astrid, Agnes and Alfred, next to a pool. It is not yet known which of Povlsen’s three children have died
Povlsen, 46, and Anne Storm Pedersen, pictured together left, met when Anne began working in sales for Bestseller. Brit Alex Nicholson, 11, was killed with his mother Anita, 42, pictured together right, as they ate breakfast in the Shangri La in Colombo
SITE Intelligence Group director Rita Katz said IS supporters have applauded the attacks on social media, ‘celebrating casualties’
A spokesman for Povlsen, Denmark’s richest man who also owns a huge estate in Scotland, confirmed the deaths but did not say which of his four children had been killed.
Just days before the devastating attacks, one of Povlsen’s children, Alma, shared a holiday snap of her siblings Astrid, Agnes and Alfred, next to a pool.
In the wake of the traedgy, Islamic State supporters celebrated the suicide bombings in social media posts.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist activity online, said ISIS fanatics were praising the terror attacks as revenge for the Christchurch mosques shooting.
Rita Katz, director of respected terror monitoring SITE Intelligence Group, said IS supporters have applauded the attacks on social media, ‘celebrating casualties’.
Ms Katz said IS media channels were ‘posting rampantly’ about the blasts and praying ‘may Allah accept’ the suicide bombers.
She claimed that the online praise indicated the group may be preparing to take responsibility for the attacks.
Source : Link