A local celebrity chef and her daughter were among those killed in the multiple bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
Shantha Mayadunne, a household name in the island nation, was known for her cookbooks (“Rasa Bojun,” “Rasa Bojun 2”), culinary school (Shantha Mayadunne School of Cooking Art) and live cooking show at the Independent Television Network.
The bombings, which took place in churches and hotels, were allegedly carried out by individuals linked to National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a local militant radical Islamist group believed to have foreign ties.
The attacks, which were near-simultaneous, were executed at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and Zion Church, a Protestant congregation, in Batticaloa.
Three five-star hotels, all in Colombo, were attacked around the same time as the churches, including the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, the Kingsbury and the Shangri-La Hotel, where Mayadunne’s family had spent Easter.
Shortly before the bombings, Mayadunne’s daughter Nisanga, who was also killed, shared a photo of their Easter breakfast on Facebook.
As of Monday, 290 people were confirmed dead from the attacks, while at least 500 were injured, CNN reported.
Mayadunne, who studied cooking all over the world — including Thailand and Singapore — had been in the culinary field for 30 years.
“When I heard the news, I was left numbed and shocked. I don’t know what more to say,” Radha Fonseca, a friend of Nisanga, told Gulf News.
“Nisanga was a very popular girl in college. Besides the fact that she was bright and smart, her mother Shantha Mayadunne, a renowned chef, made her more popular in college. She [the mother] was well respected and an inspirational chef for Sri Lankans.
“Destiny has taken away both of them. I am devastated.”
Nisanga’s post has since received an outpour of tributes from friends and supporters.
The attacks received widespread domestic and international condemnation, with several countries offering assistance, including India, Israel, Russia and the U.S.
“I have given instructions to take very stern action against the persons who are responsible for this conspiracy,” Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said in a statement, according to the Daily Mirror.