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Eight blasts rock Sri Lanka, death toll rises to 156, including 35 foreigners

As many as six near-simultaneous blasts rocked Sri Lanka in the morning. This was followed by two blasts near Colombo later in the day.
Apr 21, 2019 / 03:03 PM IST

At least 156 people were killed and more than 400 others injured after eight blasts hit churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

As many as six near-simultaneous blasts rocked the country in the morning. This was followed by two blasts in Dehiwela and Dematagoda near Colombo later in the day.

Out of those killed, 35 were foreigners, news agency AFP reported quoting police. The police also said that the eighth blast was a suicide bomb.

The first six blasts occurred at around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday masses were in progress in churches, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Three churches -- St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa -- were targeted, police said.

Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels, the Shangrila, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury. The hotels are frequented by tourists.

In just one church, St. Sebastian's in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

Media reported 25 people were also killed in an attack on a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "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."

India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a press release said: “We strongly condemn the serial blasts on multiple locations in Sri Lanka today morning in which many people have been killed and injured.”

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of Sri Lanka. We wish speedy recovery to those injured in the attacks,” it said.

“We call for perpetrators of such ghastly and heinous act and those who provide them support to be brought to justice expeditiously. We stand together with the people and Government of Sri Lanka in this hour of grief,” it added.

(With inputs from agencies. This is a developing story. More details awaited.)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 21, 2019 03:03 pm

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