Sri Lanka Blasts: At Least 137 Killed, Hundreds Injured in Coordinated Churches’ Bombings
By Staff- Agencies
At least 137 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in near-simultaneous attacks on several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said.
The blasts hit three high-end hotels and one church in the capital, Colombo, while two additional churches were targeted elsewhere in the country during Easter services, Sri Lankan police said.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called the blasts “cowardly” and said the government was working to “contain the situation.”
“I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he wrote in a tweet.
Local security officials said at least two of the attacks appeared to have been carried out by suicide bombers.
The sites were all heavily frequented by tourists, and at least nine foreign nationals were killed in the explosions.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the apparent coordinated attack.
Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to target “prominent churches”.
“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ [National Thowheeth Jama’ath] is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” said the alert, which was sent by police chief Pujuth Jayasundara to top officers.
According to hospital officials, at least 40 people were killed in the Colombo attacks; at least 62 were killed in Negombo, north of the capital; and at least 27 were killed in Batticalao, on the country’s eastern coast.
The first blast ripped through St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo.
The island nation of Sri Lanka, just off the coast from India, endured a brutal and bloody civil war from 1983 to 2009, when the government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam insurgent group, also known as the Tamil Tigers.