2 more explosions in Colombo after 6 blasts kill 185 in Sri Lanka, govt declares curfew

Eight serial blasts rocked Sri Lanka early on Sunday. The first six explosions hit three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo and other parts of the country, killing 185 people till now.

The first explosions were reported around 8 am. Around 2 pm as the country was still counting its dead, two more blasts was reported in Colombo even as security was heightened across the country and army was called in.

With two more explosions, at least 187 people have died so far while over 400 others have been injured in the blasts early on Easter Sunday morning, local media reported.

The Sri Lankan government has declared a curfew with immediate effect. Social media and messaging services have also been suspended in the country following the latest round of explosions.

According to police, the dead include 35 foreigners. It is not yet known if any Indian was hurt or killed in the attack.

Although no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, local media reports suggest suicide bombers could be behind the ghastly attack on Sri Lanka.

Reports suggest, Sri Lankan police had sounded a nationwide alert 10 days before the blasts on Sunday about suicide bombers planning attacks on churches.

At the St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

Media reported 25 people were also killed in an attack on a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu condemned the seial blasts in Sri Lanka.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that the Indian government and envoys are closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

The blasts occurred at 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday masses were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

The Sri Lankan army has deployed 200 troops to ensure security.

The government has declared two days’ holiday in schools in Sri Lanka after the blasts shocked the nation on Sunday.

Image: Reuters

“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,” the prime minister said in a tweet.

Security has been heightened in Sri Lanka and no visitors will be allowed at the Colombo airport in the aftermath of the blasts. All passengers have been requested to reach the airport 4 hours before their flights.

Security of all foreign missions stationed in Sri Lanka has been beefed up.

Three churches – St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa – were targeted, police said.

Three explosions were 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.

This is biggest such attack on Sri Lanka in several years.

The Indian High Commission has issued helpline numbers in a tweet. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789.

Reports suggest the Christian community in Sri Lanka has been targeted in particular on Easter.

Last year, there were 86 verified incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents more than 200 churches and other Christian organisations.

This year, the NCEASL recorded 26 such incidents, including one in which Buddhist monks allegedly attempted to disrupt a Sunday worship service, with the last one reported on March 25.

Out of Sri Lanka’s total population of around 22 million, 70 percent are Buddhist, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim, and 7.6 percent Christian, according to the country’s 2012 census.

Updated: April 21, 2019 — 9:58 am