University of Leeds graduate and family among eight British people killed in Sri Lanka terror attacks

Ben Nicholson with wife Anita, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11. The lawyer's wife and two children were among nearly 300 people killed in the series of terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Family handout/PA Wire.
Ben Nicholson with wife Anita, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11. The lawyer's wife and two children were among nearly 300 people killed in the series of terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Family handout/PA Wire.

A University of Leeds graduate and her two young children have been killed in the Sri Lanka terror attacks.

Anita Nicholson, 42, is a Leeds law graduate and former senior legal adviser to the Treasury.

She had been living in Singapore since the start of 2019 where she worked for mining and metals firm Anglo American.

Mrs Nicholson was killed as she ate breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo with her family.

Her young children, 14-year-old son Alex and 11-year-old daughter Annabelle, were also killed in the attack.

Her husband Ben survived.

Paying tribute, Mr Nicholson, a 43-year-old lawyer, said: "Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children.

"The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita's enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our 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."

The Sri Lankan terror attacks, which targeted churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, killed more than 320 people - including 45 children and eight Britons.

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In Colombo, St Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions.

Other blasts were reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the series of terror attacks.

Theresa May has strongly condemned the attacks.

The Prime Minister said the Easter Sunday massacre was "truly appalling" and "no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear".

MPs observed a minute's silence in the Commons on Tuesday in memory of those killed in the Sri Lanka terror attacks, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling it a "truly heartbreaking situation".

Sri Lanka held a national day of mourning on Tuesday as the country's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that suspects armed with explosives were still at large.

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.

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