April 21st, 2019 brought a series of coordinated bombing attacks in Sri Lanka, killing just around 300 people in the deadly massacre. The attack is a reminder of Sri Lanka’s violent history that the country hopes to have forgotten. Sri Lanka has dealt with bloodshed and brutal fighting for decades due to the civil war that the country faced when militant fighters and separatists from Tamil community pitted against the Sinhalese Buddhist government. The minority Tamil community were the ones to pioneer modern-day suicide attacks.
However, the recent bombings didn’t fall into the same line as that of the civil war. Instead, the attacks on the Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, affected mostly Christians who were either tourist, including four from the US or were either worshipping in the churches. The horrific event is seen as a tragic and distressing end to Sri Lanka’s peaceful last decade.
What remains, even more, a mystery, is that no terrorist organization has taken the responsibility for the attack. However, the Sri Lankan authorities do have an idea about who might be behind this notorious act of terrorism. According to the officials, an Islamic group is to be blamed for this act. Another thing that has to be made clear is why the series of coordinated attacks took place in the eastern and western cost of the nation’s coast.
Sri Lankan Civil War
The nation faced the worst phase during the Sri Lankan civil war from 1983 to 2009. Millions still suffer from the aftermaths of the most violent phase in the history of the nation. The primary problems arose during the British Colonial Period when the Sinhalese majority thought they are less privileged than the Tamil minority residing in the nation. After the end of the British Colonial Period, the Sinhalese subjugated the Tamil community, made Sinhalese as their national language, and implemented Buddhism as the primary religion of Sri Lanka.
A number of indignities including this led the Tamils to push back. Vellupillai Prabhakaran formed the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam in 1972, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, with an aim to break away from Sri Lanka and create their own nation. The Tamil Tiger’s major attack came in 1983 when the members of the group ambushed an army convoy outside of Jaffna. The attack killed 13 soldiers and marked the beginning of the civil war.
The period of civil war witnessed some high-profile terror attacks. In 1991, India’s then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber associated with the Tamil Tiger’s. Two years after the incident, Sri Lanka’s President was also killed. Though no terrorist group claimed the responsibility for the attack, it is believed that the same group was behind it. Both the nations signed a ceasefire agreement in 2002, yet, the Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated in 2005. Lakshman played a major role in the peace talks.
These series of killings and terror events forced the Sri Lankan military to invade the north coast of the nation, which was considered a den for the Tamil Tigers. The invading had gone to the extremities where women were exploited sexually in the area. Finally, in May 2009, the army got complete control over the area, and formally ended the conflict by killing Prabhakaran. Estimated by the UN, around 40,000 people perished during the last month of the war alone.
Though it is still unclear who did these coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka, the worry now, however, is that Sri Lanka might be on the verge of a new era of violence, and nobody yet knows why it may happen.