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A soldier stands guard in front of the St. Anthony's Church in Colombo. Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
easter attacks

Irish tourists urged to 'exercise a high degree of caution' as Sri Lanka curfew begins

No Irish citizens are believed to be among the dead or injured in yesterday’s fatal attacks.

IRISH HOLIDAYMAKERS WHO may be in or travelling Sri Lanka are being urged to be aware of travel restrictions and a curfew following yesterday’s series of bomb attacks.

At least 290 people were killed in the attacks which targeted churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.

No Irish citizens are believed to be among the dead or injured but at least 39 tourists were killed. These included citizens of the UK, Turkey, Portugal and the US.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK has said that eight British nationals were killed in the attacks.

The Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday updated its travel advice with relation to Sri Lanka, urging Irish citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution”.

There is no Irish embassy in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo but citizens can contact the Honorary Consulate or the Irish Embassy in India.

“Travellers should be aware that travel restrictions and curfews are in place across the island causing disruptions to travel plans,” the Department of Foreign Affairs has said.

The night-time curfew is in place today from 8pm local time (3.30pm Irish time) until tomorrow morning at 4am.

The US State Department is among those that have warned about the potential for further attacks following yesterday’s carnage, adding: “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka.”

Earlier today, a blast hit near a church in Sri Lanka’s capital as police tried to defuse a new bomb found by the site.

There was no immediate information on injuries in the blast, or how large it was but the explosion happened around 50 metres from the St Anthony’s Shrine, one of three churches targeted yesterday.

In a statement yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney made reference to the targeting of worshippers.

“Ireland strongly supports everyone’s freedom of religion and belief. Attacks such as those in Sri Lanka today and in Christchurch and elsewhere are a challenge to us all to do everything that we can to defend that right. Places of worship must be places of peace, free from fear,” Coveney said.

In regards to Irish travellers who may be in Sri Lanka, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has provided advice about dealing with potential disruption.

“Travellers should be aware that travel restrictions and curfews are in place across the island causing disruptions to travel plans. If you are affected you should contact your tour operator or travel accommodation provider,” the ITAA said in a statement.

The airport is still operating but there are increased security to measures in place. Some airlines are advising travellers to arrive early for check-in in order to allow time for security screening. There is a national curfew in place, but passengers are still able to travel to the airport, providing you have both a passport and ticket valid for travel that day.

Irish travellers who require consular assistance or family members who are concerned about loved ones can contact the Honorary Consulate in Colombo on +94 (11) 258 7895, the Embassy New Delhi at +911149403200 or the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on +35314082000.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2019

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