A Flash of Flame… then Blood On the Walls: Sri Lanka Attacks On Churches and Hotels Show Meticulous Planning

A flash of flame… then blood on the walls: Thirty minutes of terror that left 200 people dead as explosions ripped through three luxury hotels and three churches in Sri Lanka.

The Cinnamon Grand

The suicide bomber queued up patiently for the five-star hotel’s breakfast buffet before mercilessly detonating his explosives.

He had checked in the night before, under the name of Mohamed Azzam Mohamed, giving a false address and saying he was there on business.

The terrorist had a plate in one hand and had just reached the front of the queue when he detonated the device, which was strapped to his back.

The hotel’s Taprobane restaurant was having one its busiest days of the year and packed with families.

Describing the ensuing panic, a hotel manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘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. There was utter chaos, but we rushed all the injured to hospital in a very short time. About 20 people were seriously wounded and we sent them to the National Hospital.’

The Shangri-La

A MILE up the coast, a London professor narrowly avoided death by going back to his hotel room for his debit card.

Kieran Arasaratnam, a director at Imperial College London’s business school, was in his room on the 18th floor when the bomb went off.

It ripped through the hotel’s Table One restaurant, on the third floor, at 9am, shortly after the Cinnamon Grand explosion. Professor Arasaratnam, 41, a Sri Lankan who moved to the UK as a refugee 30 years ago, said he heard a sound like ‘thunder’. He had initially left his room at 8.45am.

‘Something distracted me so I went back to the room to grab my debit card, opened the curtain and switched off the ‘do not disturb’ sign… and a big blast went off,’ he said.

‘Everyone just started to panic, it was total chaos. I looked to the room on the right and there’s blood everywhere.

‘Everyone was running and a lot of people just didn’t know what was going on. People had blood on their shirts and there was someone carrying a girl to the ambulance. The walls and the floor were covered in blood.’

Many of the restaurant’s windows had been blown out of their panes and electrical wiring could be seen hanging from the ceiling.

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