A Denver businessman was among the 310 people killed in Easter Sunday’s Sri Lanka suicide bombings, The Associated Press reported.

“And the fun begins,” said in a Facebook post by Dieter Kowalski, 40, from Denver International Airport. “Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!”

That Friday post would be his last. Kowalski was killed by the explosion at the Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo, his employer confirmed Sunday.

Kowalski was a senior leader of Pearson Education’s operational technical support team and was killed shortly after reaching his hotel, Pearson CEO John Fallon said, according to The Associated Press.

“We’re angry that a good man, who took simple pleasure in fixing things, has been killed, along with many others, by evil men and women who know only how to destroy,” Fallon wrote.

Kowalski had visited the Cinnamon Grand hotel and other Sri Lanka sites in 2016. His mother, Inge Kowalski, said she’s working with the U.S. embassy to bring her son’s body back to the U.S., the AP reported Monday.

The suicide bombers targeted eight sites, most in the Colombo area. The coordinated attack hit three churches, three hotels, a house and the outside of a zoo, killing nearly 300 people and injured more than 500.

Harsha de Silva, Sri Lanka’s economic reforms minister, visited the Kochchikade church and Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo.

“Horrible scenes, I saw many body parts strewn all over,” de Silva told CNN. “We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives.”

Despite Sri Lanka’s violent history with the Tamil minority, authorities said this attack appeared to have been carried out by a different extremist group. So far, 24 people have been arrested and six suicide bombers identified, CNN reported.

U.S. and Indian intelligence agencies had warned the Sri Lankan government of potential attacks, said de Silva. An intelligence memo signed by the Sri Lankan deputy inspector general of police reportedly was circulated among local security 10 days earlier. Several government leaders tweeted photos of the memo.

It asked for increased attention to Mohomad Saharan, a leader of the extremist Nations Thawahid Jaman, who was suspected of planning a suicide attack.

“Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored,” tweeted Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s minister of telecommunications.

The information was received, but the “prime minister was kept in the dark” leading to a “failure of implementing” an appropriate response, several officials said.

The island country was under an emergency curfew.


Multimedia Journalist

Liz is a multimedia journalist with a specific interest in environment and outdoor recreation. She watches way too much Star Trek and is working toward her rescue scuba divers certification. Liz joined the Gazette staff in 2019.

Load comments