Country: Siri Lanka
At least 450 injured as explosions hit and 207 people were killed as several churches and hotels were rocked by simultaneous explosions on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Eight explosions took place, including in three Christian churches and three hotels, some commonly used by foreign visitors.
Authorities in Sri Lanka have launched a massive security operation and imposed a curfew after a wave of bombs in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed at least 207 people and injured 450.
The eight blasts, some of which officials said were suicide bomb attacks, appeared timed to cause maximum casualties among worshippers attending Easter services.
In one church, St. Sebastian’s in Negombo, north of the capital, Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed, a police official said. Much of the church roof was blown out in the explosion, with roof tiles and splintered wood littering the floor and pools of blood in between wounded worshippers.
In total, three churches and three luxury hotels were targeted. There were also explosions at a guest house near the zoo and in a residential area of Colombo.
Most of the targets were either in or close to the capital. Among the hotels targeted was the Cinnamon Grand, a luxury hotel in the centre of the city that is favoured by top politicians.
Three hours after the bombings, security forces surrounded a house in the Dematagoda neighbourhood of Colombo, where they arrested seven people, of whom three were reported to have required immediate medical assistance. There was at least one explosion during the operation, which may have been caused by a suicide bomber.
The minister of defence, said investigations had established that suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.
The foreign minister said at least 27 foreigners were among the dead. Three police officers were believed to have been killed during the operation in Dematagoda.
At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National hospital alone by mid-morning, one official said. The main hospital in the eastern port city of Batticaloa had received more than 300 people with injuries following the blast at the Zion church.
Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination and 30 foreigners were among the dead, officials said.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks. The prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, convenened Sri Lanka‘s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the national security council.
“I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation,” Wickremesinghe said on Twitter.