Nearly 200 people are now feared dead and over 450 more injured in one of the deadliest bombings in Sri Lanka targeting foreigners and Easter Sunday mass attendees.
PTI Report adds:
A string of near simultaneous blasts struck three churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
The blasts – one of the deadliest in the island nation’s history – targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and a church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo.
Harsha de Silva, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, said that there have been “many casualties including foreigners.”
“45 people died in Colombo where three hotels and a church were hit, while more than 90 were killed in Negombo and 27 in Batticaloa,” hospital sources said, adding that more than 450 people were injured in the blasts.
Nine bodies of foreigners are among 45 bodies at the Colombo National Hospital, they said, adding that Americans and British citizens were among the dead.
The Colombo National Hospital spokesperson, Dr Samindi Samarakoon, said more than 300 people have been admitted with injuries.
Dr Kalanidhi Ganeshalingam, the spokesperson for the Batticaloa hospital, said over 100 have been admitted with injuries from St Michael’s Church explosion.
Later in the day, a powerful blast in the capital’s southern suburb near the Colombo Zoo killed two persons, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
When a police team entered a house in the Colombo north suburb of Orugodawatta to conduct a search, a suicide bomber blew himself up causing a concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them, killing three policemen in the eighth blast, police said.
Soon after the eighth blast, the government imposed curfew with immediate effect.
Gunasekera said that the curfew will be in force indefinitely until further notice.
No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks.
President Maithripala Sirisena has appealed for calm. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe termed the blasts as “cowardly attacks” and said his government was working to “contain the situation.”