At least 138 people have been killed and more than 560 injured after a series of coordinated bomb blasts at a number of high-end hotels and churches across Sri Lanka on Sunday morning.
The blasts, reported to have occurred at churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa, targeted worshippers as they attended Easter services. Additional blasts ripped through three hotels, the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury Hotel, all in the capital, Colombo, according to state broadcaster SLRC.
At least nine foreigners are among at least 50 dead at the Colombo National Hospital following the explosions, according to hospital sources. In total, more than 260 people injured in the blasts have been admitted to the hospital in the wake of the attack.
More than 35 people were injured in the explosion at Katuwapitiya Church in Negombo, while more than 300 people have been hospitalized following the blast at the Zion Church in Batticaloa.
The death toll was expected to rise further.
Sri Lankan security officials said police and security services immediately rushed to all affected areas and sealed off the churches and hotels.
In a statement, the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo said that the hotel’s Table One cafe was hit just after 9 a.m local time. The hotel is popular with foreign tourists and the country’s business community.
Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside a church in Colombo after a blast Sunday.
“We are working closely with local authorities and emergency services to provide our fullest assistance and support to the affected staff and guests,” said the hotel.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the blasts.
“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,” he said on Twitter. “The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”
The country’s authorities had convened an emergency meeting involving the heads of the army, air force and navy, according to Sri Lanka’s economic reforms minister, Harsha de Silva.
He said on Twitter that all emergency steps had been taken and that the group would issue a statement on the blasts.
Sec Defence and I am at Kochchikade church. Also was at ShangriLa n Kingsbury. PM is on his way from Bentota. Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway. Please stay calm and indoors. Many casualties including foreigners.
— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) April 21, 2019
“Horrible scenes, I saw many body parts strewn all over,” de Silva said after visiting the Kochchikade church and Shangri-La Hotel in Kingsbury, Colombo. “We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives.”
De Silva said that foreigners were among the casualties and that rescue operations were underway, adding that emergency crews are at the scenes operating in “full force.”
This is a developing story.
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