At least 166 people were killed and more than 450 others injured after six near simultaneous blasts hit three churches and three hotels frequented by tourists in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. The blasts occurred at around 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday masses were in progress in churches, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
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.
President Maithripala Sirisena has appealed for calm. “I have been shocked by this totally unexpected incidents. The security forces have been asked to take all action necessary,” Sirisena said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe termed the blasts as “cowardly attacks” and said his government was working to “contain the situation.”
“I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong… The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation,” he tweeted.
The Sri Lankan government has summoned an emergency meeting. All necessary emergency steps have been taken by the government, Harsha de Silva said. “Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Emergency crews are at all locations in full force. We, at 1990 also have close to 20 units at various locations. We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives,” he said.