Sri Lanka Blasts: A string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, at least 359 people killed including 35 foreigners including 10 Indians, and over 450 people injured.
Government of Sri Lanka has launched a security operation and imposed a curfew after a wave of bombs in high-end hotels and churches in Sri Lanka.
At least 50 people had been killed in St Sebastian church in Negombo, Colombia, 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.
Three luxury hotels and churches were targeted including the residential area of Colombo and a guest house near the zoo.
Police chief warned of threat 10 days ago:
According to AFP, the Sri Lankan police chief had warned of possible attacks targeting Prominent Churches in a nationwide.
Pujuth Jayasundara(Police chief) sent an intelligence report to top officers on 11th April setting out the threat.
A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the National Thowheed Jamaath (N.T.J) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches. The N.T.J came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues.
Blast at eight sites, including three churches.
At a glance:
- Four hotels, Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La, Kingsbury, and Tropical Inn targeted in Colombo.
- One church each targeted in Colombo (St Anthony’s Shrine), Negombo (St Sebastian’s Church) and Batticaloa (Zeon Church)
- 47 killed in Colombo blasts.
- 25 killed in Batticaloa blast.
- 67 killed in Negombo blast.
- 35 foreigners including US, UK, and Dutch citizens dead
- Over 450 injured
- Curfew, ‘temporary’ social media ban imposed
The foreign minister said at least 35 foreigners were dead. Three police officers were believed to have been killed during the operation in Dematagoda.
The bomber is the most significant in the small island nation for many years and comes a decade after the end of a bloody civil war.
President Maithripala Sirisena said in an address that he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm, and the PM was expected to speak to the media shortly.
Wickremesinghe wrote on Twitter: “I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today”.
“I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation”.
The hotels targeted in the attack are all popular destinations for tourists, among them the Cinnamon Grand, which is near the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo.
An official at the hotel told AFP the blast there had hit the restaurant and reported at least one person had been killed.
At the Shangri-La hotel, an AFP photographer saw extensive damage on the second-floor restaurant, with windows blown out and electrical wires hanging from the ceiling.
Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway. Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet.
He said he had been to two of the attacked hotels and was at the scene at St Anthony’s Shrine, where he described “horrible scenes”.
He Tweeted, adding that I saw many body parts strewn all over, moreover, there were many casualties including foreigners.
There have been no attacks in Sri Lanka linked to foreign Islamist groups, despite local media reports that a 37-year-old Sri Lankan was killed in Syria in 2016 while fighting for the Islamic State group.
The Pakistani High Commission in Colombo has issued the numbers of helplines for people wanting to find out about their family members in the city.
The Foreign Office has condemned the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. The government and peoples of Pakistan stand by Sri Lanka’s people and government at this moment of tragedy and against terror, a spokesperson said.