137 People Killed And Hundreds Injured In Explosions Across Sri Lanka
At least 137 people have died, and hundreds more have been injured, in a number of explosions at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka.
So far, at least six explosions have been reported – three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa were all targeted during Easter services, while the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo were also hit.
Easter is one of the major events in the Christian calendar, with many people attending church for Easter Sunday.
Currently, no group or organisation has said it was responsible.
Some people have been concerned about fighters from the Islamic State group returning from the Middle East, who could pose a threat in the country, BBC News reports.
Reports from the area say at least 67 people were killed in a blast a St Sebastian’s church in Negombo. The church itself has been badly damaged too, with its roof completely shattered.
St Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo, has also reported many casualties. Hospitals have said at least nine foreign nationals were killed.
In Batticaloa, a city on the east coast of Sri Lanka, 27 people are said to have been killed.
A hotel official from the Cinnamon Grand, not far from the Sri Lankan prime Minister’s residence, said an explosion had ripped through the restaurant there, killing at least one person.
Reports from the area say police have told residents to stay inside their houses and remain calm, as there is still a risk of further attacks.
There is a heavy military presence in the cities and in front of all major state buildings.
According to BBC Sinhala‘s Azzam Ameen, security officials believe this to be a well-planned, coordinated attack, though it is too early to say who is responsible.
President Maithripala Sirisena has called for people to stay calm and support the security officials in their investigations.
While Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said:
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 government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.
Our thoughts are with all those affected at this difficult time.
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