At Colombo Airport, Locals And Arriving Tourists Remain Defiant After Bombings

Less than 24 hours after the deadliest attack in Sri Lanka’s history, its international airport in Colombo sits under a blanket of darkness punctuated only by the bright glow of the terminal and the lights that line the runways. But Monday was a dark day in Sri Lanka for another reason: terror.

Welcoming airport officers dressed in turquoise uniforms smile on arrival in an attempt to mask the situation from arriving visitors. Soldiers clad in red berets, camouflage slacks and armed with machine guns patrol the terminal floor, an ambulance sits outside the airport for any medical emergency and every person, including Sri Lankan soldiers, are body searched upon entry to the building.

A pipe bomb, discovered by a routine military patrol, was defused outside the main terminal just hours earlier. “It was a crude, six-foot pipe bomb that was found by the roadside,” an air force spokesman told AFP news agency. “We have removed it and safely defused it at an air force location.” There was no indication if the discovery was linked to Sunday’s coordinated attacks.

At the departures gate, tourists are whisked straight into the building by an array of security officers who try to minimise the amount of time they spend land side. Etihad Airlines staff said no additional security measures had been put in place for travel to Sri Lanka, but the island’s national carrier warned those leaving the country to arrive four hours before their flight because of increased checks.

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