Sri Lanka Explosions (Updates): More than 200 Killed as Churches, Hotels Targeted
Sri Lankan bomb blast site

At least 207 people have been killed and 450 hurt in explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, police say.

Eight blasts were reported, including at three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district during Easter services.

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels and one other, all in the capital, were also targeted.

A national curfew has been put in place “until further notice” and social media networks have been temporarily blocked.

A foreign ministry official said 27 foreign nationals were among the dead.

Reports say seven people have been arrested, but it not yet clear who is responsible for the attacks.

Sri Lanka’s defence minister has said the attacks were probably carried out by one group.

The first reports of explosions came at about 08:45 (03:15 GMT) local time – with six blasts reported close together at churches and luxury hotels.

St Sebastian’s church in Negombo was severely damaged in one explosion, with dozens killed at the site.

Images from inside showed blood on the pews and the building’s ceiling shattered.

READ ALSO: Easter Bombings: Buhari Condemns attack on Sri Lankans

There were also heavy casualties at the site of the first blast in St Anthony’s, a hugely popular shrine in Kochchikade, a district of Colombo.


Robert Tyler, who has lived in Sri Lanka for six years, told the BBC that at least two of the hotels appeared to have had their restaurants targeted at a busy time for breakfast.

The UK’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, James Dauris has said British citizens were caught up in the explosions, but has not confirmed further details.

One Dutch national is among the dead, Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a statement.

Two Turkish citizens have also been killed, state news agency Anadolu reports.
A seventh explosion was later reported at a hotel near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, with police sources reporting two deaths.

An eighth explosion was reported near the Colombo district of Dematagoda. Media say it was suicide bomber and that three people, believed to be security personnel, were killed during a police raid.

Local media report that the military have been deployed, and security has been stepped up at the country’s main Bandaranaike International Airport.

Colombo resident Usman Ali told the BBC there were massive queues as he joined people trying to donate blood.

He said: “Everyone had just one intention and that was to help the victims of the blast, no matter what religion or race they may be. Each person was helping another out in filling forms.”

Rumours have been reported of more attacks and police have told people to stay inside their houses and remain calm. But there is some element of panic.

There is a heavy military presence in front of all major state buildings. No-one was expecting this, it was a peaceful Sunday morning – everyone was going to Easter services.

BBC


LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here