Sri Lanka Explosions: Mother And Her Two Children Among Eight Brits Killed In Bomb Attacks

Isabel Togoh

A British woman and her two children are among the eight UK nationals killed in a series of Easter Sunday explosion in Sri Lanka which left 300 dead and 500 injured.

Ben Nicholson has confirmed his wife Anita, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, were killed in the bombing of the restaurant of the Shangri-la Hotel, Colombo, adding: “Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering.”

He said his family had been visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday from their home in Singapore.

Anita, who was also a lawyer, worked for mining and metals company Anglo American, while her husband is a partner with law firm Kennedys.

He added: “I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children. The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children.”

Alex, Anita, Annabel and Ben Nicholson.

He continued: “Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood. They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with.

“I would like to give my sincere thanks for the medical teams at General Hospital, Colombo, for treating Anita, Alex and Annabel with great dignity and me with kindness and sympathy. I would also like to thank the teams at the British High Commission and Adhvan Tours who have looked after me since Sunday morning and the Sri Lankan people I have encountered in Colombo following this catastrophe. 

“Anita, Alex and Annabel leave behind a large extended family and many close and cherished friends who are now grieving this tragic loss. We shall all miss them dearly. We are all grateful for the many expressions of support and good wishes. We would ask that the media now respect our privacy and allow us to grieve together.”

Members of three British families were among nearly 300 people killed in the series of terror attacks.

Londoner Matthew Linsey’s daughter Amelie, 15, and son Daniel, 19, were killed in the same blast on the final day of their holiday.

GP Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop, a retired firefighter, from Manchester, died in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel bombing.

The coordinated blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a militant group named National Thowfeek Jamaath, health minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

It has since emerged that Sri Lankan officials failed to heed warnings from intelligence agencies about the threat of an attack by the domestic radical Muslim group, the minister added.

Other known victims at this stage include three children of Asos billionaire, Anders Holch Povlsen. It is not known which explosion they were killed in.

Sri Lankan TV chef Shantha Mayadunne was also killed. She had taken a picture of herself sitting with her family for Easter breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel, minutes before the explosion ripped through the building.

The bombings were Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago on the island nation.

Sri Lankan police investigating the bombings are examining reports that intelligence agencies had warnings of possible attacks.

International intelligence agencies warned of the attacks several times, starting on April 4, Senaratne said.

On April 9, the defence ministry wrote to the police chief with intelligence that included the group’s name, he said.

On April 11, police wrote to the heads of security of the judiciary and diplomatic security division, Senaratne said.

It was not immediately clear what action, if any, was taken in response.

Because of political dysfunction within the government, Seranatne said, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet were kept in the dark about the intelligence until after the attacks.

Two other government ministers have alluded to intelligence failures.

Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando tweeted: “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.”

Mano Ganeshan, the minister for national integration, said his ministry’s security officers had been warned by their division about the possibility that two suicide bombers would target politicians.

The police’s Criminal Investigation Department, which is handling the investigation into the blasts, will look into those reports, Gunasekara said.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, said the attacks could have been thwarted.

“We placed our hands on our heads when we came to know that these deaths could have been avoided. Why this was not prevented?” he said.

Earlier, Ariyananda Welianga, a government forensic crime investigator, said an analysis of the attackers’ body parts made clear that they were suicide bombers.

He said most of the attacks were carried out by a single bomber, with two at the Shangri-La Hotel in the capital, Colombo.

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