Sri Lanka blasts: Death toll rises to 156, including 35 foreigners

by Garry Watts April 22, 2019, 2:31
Sri Lanka blasts: Death toll rises to 156, including 35 foreigners

A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters says that six near simultaneous explosions hit three churches and three hotels frequented by foreign tourists.

AFP reported that the death toll has reached 156 people, including 35 foreigners, according to police. Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena is likely to pass an order regarding the same.

Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been nearly blown off in the blast. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation.

Sri Lanka was rocked by multiple explosions on Sunday morning targeting three churches, two in Kochchikade and Katana in Colombo and the third in Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province of the country during Easter mass.

Sri Lankan security officials said they were investigating.

Earlier, Wickremesinghe tweeted that "the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation".

"The people and Government of Pakistan stand by the people and Government of Sri Lanka at this moment of tragedy and against terror", Dr Mohammad Faisal said.

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There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.

"Emergency meeting called in a few minutes".

The explosion ripped off the roof and knocked out doors and windows at St. Sebastian's, where people carried the wounded away from blood-stained pews, local TV footage showed.

"Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Hopefully saved many lives", added de Silva. He further assured that rescue operations are underway and has advised people to stay calm and indoors. Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.

The horrifying Easter Sunday attacks come after a lull violence in the country since the end of the civil war 10 years ago. This is another attack on the travel and tourism industry, an important sector of Sri Lanka's economy. At least 80 people have been injured in two blasts at churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter Sunday services, AFP reported.

In comments posted on Twitter, Erdogan offered his condolences to families of the victims and to the people of Sri Lanka.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: "I'm deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today".

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