British mother and children confirmed among Sri Lanka terror victims

A lawyer and her two children were among the eight British victims of the Sri Lanka terror attacks, her husband has confirmed.

Anita Nicholson, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, were having breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo when one of the seven suicide bombers struck.

Mrs Nicholson's husband Ben confirmed they had been killed in a statement on Monday afternoon.

He said: "Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children.

"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."

28 PHOTOS
Sri Lanka terror attacks
See Gallery
Sri Lanka terror attacks
A man mourns at a grave of a victim, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, at Sellakanda Catholic cemetery in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Grief has rung out through Sri Lanka in the wake of the deadly attacks (AFP Photo/ISHARA S. KODIKARA)
Two women mourn during a funeral service for bomb blast victims at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - Sri Lanka began a day of national mourning on April 23 with three minutes of silence to honour more than 300 people killed in suicide bomb blasts that have been blamed on a local Islamist group. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman cries at a service for bomb blast victims at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - Sri Lanka began a day of national mourning on April 23 with three minutes of silence to honour more than 300 people killed in suicide bomb blasts that have been blamed on a local Islamist group. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - This Sunday, April 21, 2019, file photo shows the inside of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka are a bloody echo of decades past in the South Asian island nation, when militants inspired by attacks in the Lebanese civil war helped develop the suicide bomb vest. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, File)
A Sri Lankan roman catholic woman prays during a three minute nationwide silence observe to pay homage to the victims of Easter Sunday's blasts outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. A state of emergency has taken effect giving the Sri Lankan military war-time powers not used since civil war ended in 2009. Police arrested 40 suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by suicide bombers involved in deadly Easter bombings. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka Easter bombings that killed over 300 (ABC News)
A man mourns at a grave of a victim, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, at Sellakanda Catholic cemetery in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called a national security council meeting at his house and 200 troops have been deployed to carry out the rescue operation.
Officials say at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
Condolences poured in from journalists, cricketers and the film fraternity tweeting condemnation of the attack.
Officials say at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
Sri Lanka blasts
Explosions struck hotels and churches.
Todas las explosiones ocurrieron hacia las 8.45 horas (2.30 GMT), en al menos tres hoteles de lujo en Colombo y también en un iglesia de la capital, otra en Katana, en el oeste del país, y la tercera en Batticaloa, en el este de la isla. EFETodas las explosiones ocurrieron hacia las 8.45 horas (2.30 GMT), en al menos tres hoteles de lujo en Colombo y también en un iglesia de la capital, otra en Katana, en el oeste del país, y la tercera en Batticaloa, en el este de la isla. EFETodas las explosiones ocurrieron hacia las 8.45 horas (2.30 GMT), en al menos tres hoteles de lujo en Colombo y también en un iglesia de la capital, otra en Katana, en el oeste del país, y la tercera en Batticaloa, en el este de la isla. EFE
Atentados en Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: An inside view of the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Atentados en Sri Lanka
Priests walk into the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
A shoe of a victim is seen in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: An inside view of the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan military officers stand guard in front of the St Anthony's Church where an explosion took place in Kochchikade, Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019.- At least 137 people were killed in Sri Lanka on April 21, police sources told AFP, when a string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: Security forces secure the area around the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Ambulances are seen outside the church premises with gathered people and security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Local media reported Mr Nicholson desperately searching for his family after the blast.

He thanked Sri Lankan medics, the British High Commission and holiday company Adhvan Tours for helping him over the past 36 hours.

He said all three would have died instantly with no pain.

The family had been visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday from their home in Singapore. Mrs Nicholson worked for mining and metals company Anglo American, while Mr Nicholson is a partner with law firm Kennedys.

No group has claimed the attacks, but Sri Lankan officials have named little-known Islamic extremist organisation National Thowfeek Jamaath.

The seven suicide bombers were all Sri Lankan citizens but the group is believed to have links with foreign terrorist networks.

At least 290 people were killed in the explosions and more than 500 were wounded.

Twenty-four people have since been arrested in a series of raids.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK would offer Sri Lanka support in the days to come.

He said the terrorist attacks were "absolutely devastating and despicable" and "for this to happen on Easter Day is something that will shake people around the world, of all faiths and none, to the core".

One line of inquiry will be what intelligence services knew about the attack, with telecommunications minister Harin Fernando tweeting: "Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence.

"Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored."

Sri Lanka Church Blasts
Firefighters near St Anthony's Shrine (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

In Colombo, St Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions shortly before 9am local time, as worshippers attended morning services and tourists enjoyed their breakfasts.

At around the same time, explosions were also reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

Relatives bury three victims at St Sebastian Church in Negombo
Relatives bury three victims at St Sebastian Church in Negombo (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)

A few hours later, two more blasts occurred just outside Colombo, one of them at a guesthouse, where two people were killed, and the other near an overpass.

Three police officers were killed during a search at a suspected safe house on the outskirts of Colombo when its occupants apparently detonated explosives to prevent arrest

Srl Lanka Church Blasts
A Sri Lankan Police officer inspects a blast spot at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo (Chamila Karunarathne/AP)

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq said she had lost a relative in the attacks.

She posted on Twitter: "It's all so devastating. Hope everyone is keeping safe. Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."

Prime Minister Theresa May said the Easter Sunday massacre was "truly appalling", adding: "No-one should ever have to practise their faith in fear."

The Queen offered her condolences to the Sri Lankan people on Monday, saying: "I pay tribute to the medical and emergency services who are providing support to those who have been injured.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all Sri Lankans at this difficult time."

A curfew was imposed on Sunday night and social media use was also restricted by authorities, which claimed the move was to prevent the spread of false information.

Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned "the cowardly attacks on our people".

Britons caught up in the carnage described the horrific scenes in Colombo.

After the blast at the Cinnamon Grand, NHS doctor Julian Emmanuel, from Surrey, told The Sun: "I've never seen such utter devastation."

He added: "My children and wife are traumatised by what they saw today. We will never forget this. We will always remember Easter Sunday for this reason now."

Kieran Arasaratnam, a professor at Imperial College London Business School, was staying at the Shangri-La.

"Everyone just started to panic, it was total chaos," he told the BBC. "I looked to the room on the right and there's blood everywhere.

"Everyone was running and a lot of people just don't know what was going on. People had blood on their shirt and there was someone carrying a girl to the ambulance. The walls and the floor were covered in blood."

Nisanga Mayadunne – who studied at the University of London, according to her Facebook profile – and her mother Shantha, a TV chef, were also reported to be among the dead.

Ms Mayadunne posted a photo of her family eating breakfast in the Shangri-La on Easter Sunday.

Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Holch Povlsen
Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Holch Povlsen (Olufson Jonas/Ritzau Scanpix/AP)

It emerged on Monday morning that Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen lost three of his four children in the attacks.

Mr Holch Povlsen is the largest stakeholder in online fashion retailer Asos and is believed to be the largest private landowner in Scotland after buying a string of estates.

A spokesman for the businessman asked for the family's privacy to be respected.

Britons in Sri Lanka who need help were urged to call the High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 5390639, while people in the UK worried about friends or family should call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 1500.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS