Posted on May 3, 2019, 8:17 PM IST
A wave of bomb attacks in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka have killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds. As of Sunday afternoon, eight bomb blasts have taken place since morning causing a panic situation in the country.
There were six initial blasts, at three hotels and three churches, before two more explosions some time later, at a guest house and housing scheme, with two people reported to have been killed at the former.
Assumed to be planned as a part of sectarian violence, many of the blasts appeared timed to cause maximum casualties among worshippers attending Easter services on Sunday morning.
In St. Sebastian’s Churchi, Katuwapitiya, north of the capital Colombo, more than 50 people have been killed. The roof of the church was blown out in the explosion ‘with roof tiles and splintered wood littering the floor and pools of blood in between wounded worshippers,’ The Guardian reported.
Colombo and its closeby areas have been observed as the primary targets. Cinnamon Grand, a luxury hotel in the centre of the city has been one of the centres of the blasts.
The attacks come after a decade of the bloody civil war and are the most significant in the small island nation.
No group has taken responsibility for the attacks yet but Associated Press reporters have suspected this to be the work of suicide bombers. Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said the culprits had been identified and were religious extremists.
More than 100 victims have been admitted to the Colombo National hospital. The main hospital in the eastern port city of Batticaloa has received more than 300 people with injuries following the blast at the Zion church.
Smaller blasts have been witnessed in the areas around Colombo, and hospitals can be seen struggling to cope with incoming casualties.
Most of the dead are believed to have been locals, with the BBC putting the number of foreigners killed at nine, and AFP reporting that 35 people from other countries have lost their lives. The Guardian understands that British tourists are feared to be among those killed.
The Sri Lankan government has imposed a curfew with immediate effect, and has shut down social media and text message services.
World leaders including Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, Theresa May, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks and expressed their sympathies to the victims. May called the violence “truly appalling” and said that “no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear”.