Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Sri Lanka victims: Tributes to 'beloved' former Dubai rugby player killed in bombings

Lakshan Rodrigo, 36, spent more than a decade in the Emirates before moving home to Colombo

Lakshan Rodrigo, a former UAE resident killed in Sunday's bomb attacks in Sri Lanka
Lakshan Rodrigo, a former UAE resident killed in Sunday's bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

A popular former UAE hotel worker and amateur rugby player has been identified as one of the victims of the Sri Lanka terror attacks.

Lakshan Rodrigo, 36, was on duty in a restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo when suicide bombers struck on Sunday morning.

He spent a decade working in the UAE, mostly at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai, friends said. He enjoyed sports, particularly rugby, and played in a team of expat former pupils from his Colombo school, Isipathana College, in Dubai tournaments.

A spokeswoman for the Shangri-La hotel told The National that their "beloved colleague Lakshan Rodrigo" was among the victims. His funeral will be held in Colombo on Tuesday afternoon.

Friends also said they had been informed by his family that he one of the hundreds killed in Sunday’s wave of attacks.

Mr Rodrigo had returned to his native Sri Lanka in 2016 to work as a restaurant supervisor. He started his career in Dubai as a waiter, working his way up.

“When I received a call on Sunday I knew there was something wrong. They said it was about Lakshan,” said Riza Rahman, who went to school with Mr Rodrigo and said he was one of his best friends. The pair continued their friendship when they both moved to the UAE. Mr Rahman still lives in Dubai.

“He was a very humble person, very helpful to everyone and respectful for everyone. He was very happy to be living in Dubai," he said.

"He was a good friend of mine ever since we were back home in Sri Lanka, we went to school together, went to class together.

“After nearly 30 years of war we had a peaceful country, so what has happened in Sri Lanka is so shocking, we don’t really know what’s going on.”

Mr Rodrigo and his brother Tivanga both worked at the Shangri-La in Colombo and together at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. Tivanga was not harmed in the attacks.

Razeena Kukkady, 58, a mother-of-two from Dubai, is also believed to have lost her life in the Shangri-La hotel when the attackers struck. Two other luxury hotels in Colombo were targeted, along with several churches.

It is believed that suicide bombers were behind the attacks, with Sri Lankan authorities saying religious extremists were responsible, although no group has yet claimed responsibility.

Updated: April 23, 2019 07:56 AM

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