A series of explosions were reported at three churches and two five-star hotels in Sri Lanka’s Colombo on Sunday. At the time of the explosions, Christian faithful were praying at the churches on the occasion of Easter.
According to reports, there have been a total of six blasts. Reports say that at least 130 people have been killed. Over 300 have been injured and taken to hospitals.
Reports say that foreign tourists were among the dead.
The blasts took place at the St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, the St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya in Katana and a third in Batticaloa.
Sri Lankan media reports that two of the explosions occurred at the same time at around 8:45 am.
The hotels which were hit by explosions are the Shangri-La Hotel and Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Police say that the Kingsbury Hotel in the capital, too, was hit.
It is with deep regret that we wish to inform that an explosion occurred in a restaurant located on the ground floor of the @CinnamonGrandC earlier today.
— Cinnamon Hotels (@CinnamonHotels) April 21, 2019
Unconfirmed reports suggest that two more explosions have taken place at Town Hall Red Cross building and Viharamadevi park.
Photos circulating on Twitter show rubble from tiles of the roof of St Anthony’s church and a disoriented congregation. The explosion apparently happened inside the church during the Easter mass.
St Sebastian Church has appealed for help on its Facebook page.
Police have cordoned off all the sites where the explosions took place. It is not clear what triggered the explosions but Sri Lankan security officials said they were checking for details.
The military has been called in to guard the churches and the hotels.
Initial reports suggest that church-goers may have been specifically targeted on the occasion of Easter. The Sri Lankan police are yet to issue an official statement.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena called for calm in a statement issued by his office. Reports say that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is chairing an emergency meeting.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Twitter the attacks appeared to be a “well-co-ordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem and anarchy” and had killed “many innocent people”.
Easter Sunday bomb blasts in churches & hotels, killing many innocent people seems to be a well coordinated attempt to create murder,mayhem & anarchy.All those who cherish democracy,freedom & economic prosperity must unite now with nerves of steel to defeat this heinous attempt.
— Mangala Samaraweera (@MangalaLK) April 21, 2019
PM Modi expresses grief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the blasts and said that India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.
“Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured,” the PM wrote on Twitter.
Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.
— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 21, 2019
The Congress, too, expressed grief.
“We are deeply saddened by the terrible attacks on several churches in #SriLanka on the holy day of Easter. We stand with the people in their time of grief & pray for their recovery,” the party said in a tweet.
We are deeply saddened by the terrible attacks on several churches in #SriLanka on the holy day of Easter. We stand with the people in their time of grief & pray for their recovery.
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 21, 2019
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that she is in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. The High Commission also released phone numbers where Indian citizens can approach for any assistance.