Dutch woman, 54, killed in Sri Lanka Easter attacks

Aerial photo of the Colombo, Sri Lanka coast
An undated aerial photo of the shoreline along Colombo, Sri LankaPhoto: Vidumg / DepositPhotos

At least one Dutch woman was among the hundreds of people killed in a seemingly coordinated set of attacks on Easter Sunday in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka, and several other cities in the South Asian island nation. The 54-year-old woman died in a blast triggered by a suicide bomber at the five-star Cinnamon Grand Hotel in a central, popular part of Colombo.

In total, at least 207 people were killed and 450 injured in eight separate bombings of churches and luxury hotels in the country. In the hours after the attack, Sri Lankan officials confirmed that 27 people killed were foreigners. Other reports say at least 35 tourists and foreign workers were killed, including victims from Belgium, China, India, Morocco, Portugal, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The incident at the Cinnamon Grand took place at the hotel's restaurant during its Easter buffet service. The Dutch woman who was killed was visiting from abroad, and she had booked a room there, according to newspaper AD. The suicide bomber stood quietly in line among families and tourists waiting for breakfast at about 8:30 a.m. As he approached the buffet he triggered a bomb on his back, a hotel staffer told AFP.

"He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast," a manager said of the attacker to the newswire .

"Horrified by the terrible attacks on this Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said later that day. "Our thoughts are with the victims, including one Dutch national at this moment. The Netherlands has passed its heartfelt condolences to the Sri Lankan people," he continued, echoing a sentiment offered by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He said his office is in contact with the victim's family and monitoring the situation.

"We stand with you."

Travel operators Thomas Cook and Tui, both of which coordinate vacations in Sri Lanka for Dutch holidaymakers, said that all of their guests are accounted for and not among the victims in the bombings, reported newspaper AD. Only a handful of Dutch people in Sri Lanka have requested emergency assistance to depart the country, a call center spokesperson told the paper.

"I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation," said Sri Lanka's leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

"Don't give extremists a voice. Don't help to make them martyrs," said Sri Lankan Defenese Minister Ruwan Wijewardene. He asked media outlets not to publicize the identities of those who perpetrated Sunday's attack.