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Sri Lanka: 138 Killed, Over 400 Injured in Multiple Explosions in Churches, Hotels

Over 400 others have also sustained injuries in six simultaneous blasts on Easter Sunday.

New Delhi: The death toll from multiple explosions in Sri Lanka has reached 138. Over 400 others have also sustained injuries in six simultaneous blasts in the South Asian country on Easter Sunday. According to several local media reports, at least nine foreign nationals were among the fatalities reported.

The blasts occurred at around 8:45 am as Easter Sunday masses were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told Reuters.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home later in the day. In a tweet, he called on “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,” he tweeted.

One of the blasts hit St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade of the capital, Colombo.

The Colombo National Hospital spokesperson, Dr Samindi Samarakoon, said more than 300 people have been admitted with injuries.

Symptomatic of the deluge of unverified information on social media after the bomb blasts, Sri Lanka Red Cross had to deny rumours that its building had been been attacked.

In a series of tweets, Harsha de Silva, the Sri Lankan minister of economic reforms and public distribution said rescue operations were underway and asked people to “stay calm and indoors”. According to Silva, foreign nationals were among those killed in the attacks.

Leader of opposition and veteran TNA leader R. Sampanthan also joined other Sri Lankan leaders in calling for unity in the island nation. “Let us stay together and be strong so that these extremists will not be able to take this country backwards,” he tweeted.

Three explosions were also reported from the five-star hotels, the Shangrila, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21,2019. Credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

St. Sebastian’s church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the floor, and requested help from the public. More than 50 people were killed at that church, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help,” read the post from St. Sebastian’s Church.

India on Sunday said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka.

“Explosions have been reported in Colombo and Batticaloa today. We are closely monitoring the situation. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo tweeted.

“In addition to the numbers given, Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may also call the following numbers +94777902082 +94772234176,” the high commission tweeted.

Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has tweeted that she is in constant touch with the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo and is keeping a close watch on the situation.

(With agency inputs)

New Delhi: The death toll from multiple explosions in Sri Lanka has reached 138. Over 400 others have also sustained injuries in six simultaneous blasts in the South Asian country on Easter Sunday. According to several local media reports, at least nine foreign nationals were among the fatalities reported.

The blasts occurred at around 8:45 am as Easter Sunday masses were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told Reuters.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home later in the day. In a tweet, he called on “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,” he tweeted.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted Sunday afternoon that India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.

The Indian president has also “condemned the terror attacks in Sri Lanka.”

One of the blasts hit St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade of the capital, Colombo.

The Colombo National Hospital spokesperson, Dr Samindi Samarakoon, said more than 300 people have been admitted with injuries.

Symptomatic of the deluge of unverified information on social media after the bomb blasts, Sri Lanka Red Cross had to deny rumours that its building had been been attacked.

In a series of tweets, Harsha de Silva, the Sri Lankan minister of economic reforms and public distribution said rescue operations were underway and asked people to “stay calm and indoors”. According to Silva, foreign nationals were among those killed in the attacks.

Leader of opposition and veteran TNA leader R. Sampanthan also joined other Sri Lankan leaders in calling for unity in the island nation. “Let us stay together and be strong so that these extremists will not be able to take this country backwards,” he tweeted.

Three explosions were also reported from the five-star hotels, the Shangrila, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

St. Sebastian’s church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the floor, and requested help from the public. More than 50 people were killed at that church, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help,” read the post from St. Sebastian’s Church.

India on Sunday said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka.

“Explosions have been reported in Colombo and Batticaloa today. We are closely monitoring the situation. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo tweeted.

“In addition to the numbers given, Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may also call the following numbers +94777902082 +94772234176,” the high commission tweeted.

Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has tweeted that she is in constant touch with the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo and is keeping a close watch on the situation.

THE WIRE

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