India issues travel advisory after 15 killed in Sri Lanka gun battle amid curfew

NEW DELHI: The Indian Government has advised its nationals not to undertake non-essential travel to Sri Lanka in view of the prevailing security situation in the Island nation after the Easter Sunday suicide bombings. Also, The Ministry of External Affairs has asked those undertaking essential or emergency travels to contact the Indian Mission in Colombo in case they require any assistance.

“In view of the prevailing security situation in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of terror attacks on 21 April 2019, Indian nationals intending to travel to Sri Lanka are advised not to undertake non-essential travel,” the MEA said in a release.

The US, the UK, Australia and Canada have also issued travel advisories to their citizens seeking to visit Sri Lanka.

“In case of those undertaking essential/emergency travels, they can contact the High Commission of India in Colombo or the Assistant High Commission in Kandy / Consulates in Hambantota and Jaffna in case of requirement of any assistance,” the MEA further said, adding that the helpline numbers of the Indian High Commission are available on the Mission’s website.

The Government of Sri Lanka has beefed up the security in the country, it said. A nation-wide emergency including night time curfew is in place at present which may also affect travel within Sri Lanka, the MEA added.

The advisory comes on the day when 15 people were killed in Sri Lanka in a gun battle between the government forces and an armed group in Kalmunai city.

Six children and three women were among 15 people killed when militants linked to the Easter Sunday bombings opened fire and blew themselves up during a fierce gun fight with security forces.

The shootout occurred as the security forces continued their hunt for members of the National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ, the local terror outfit behind the April 21 coordinated blasts in which 253 people were killed and over 500 injured.

The Special Task Force and Army troops, following a tip-off, raided a house in Kalmunai city, about 360 kms from Colombo, on Friday night, leading to the heavy exchange of fire with the armed group.

As the heavily-armed men opened fire on troops, a civilian caught in the middle got killed.

As the clashes intensified, three men are believed to have set off explosives.

At least 76 people have been arrested by the police in connection with the attack so far. Twenty were arrested in the last 24 hours.

Officials also seized one kg of explosives near a railway station at Wellawatta, a popular south Colombo suburb.