In Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners. The attacks against humanity killed 215 people, including three Indians. The incidents shattered a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Bhanuka Harischandra was running a little late for his meeting Sunday.
As a car carrying him pulled into the back entrance of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo, he realized something was wrong.
People were telling him not to come in, it wasn't safe. Still, the car pulled around to the front of the hotel and Harischandra saw the aftermath of a bombing. People were being evacuated, others were being dragged. Blood and ambulances were everywhere.
#WATCH France: The Eiffel Tower in Paris went dark at the midnight, as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the serial bombings in Sri Lanka on 21st April. More than 200 people died & 450 were injured in the bombings that took place in churches & hotels of the country,y'day pic.twitter.com/w2ScUB7ua0— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2019
"It was panic mode," Harischandra, a 24-year-old founder of a tech marketing company, said by telephone later in the day. "I didn't process it for a while."
He decided to go to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where he thought it would be safe. But just after he was dropped at the luxury hotel and about to enter the building, he heard another bomb go off.
Now he was being evacuated. Soot and ash fell on his white sweatshirt.
His car had left, so he hailed a motorized rickshaw and went to meet friends at a coffee shop. They contacted other friends, trying to make sure everyone they knew was safe.
It was too soon to think about what it might mean.
Harischandra was heartened by the fact that his social media feed was flooded with photos of the lines of people waiting to give blood. Lines so long "you can't see the end."
Meanwhile, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) strongly condemned the deadly bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.
The ISESCO said in a statement on Sunday that this heinous act is a crime against humanity and an ugly face of hatred and extremism, Xinhua news agency reported.
The attacks "hamper international efforts to promote the values of peace, coexistence and respect among followers of religions," it added.
(With inputs from agencies)