Over 100 Killed As Blasts Hit Churches, Hotels In Sri Lanka

Mass casualties feared as explosions rocked three churches and three hotels on Easter Sunday, police said.

April 21, 2019, 1:15 p.m.

Mass casualties feared as explosions rocked three churches and three hotels on Easter Sunday, police said.

At least 50 people have been killed and 280 injured in explosions which hit three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, officials said Sunday.

The blasts hit three high-end hotels and one church in the capital, while two additional churches were targeted outside Colombo, police said. The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear.

More than 50 people killed in the blast at one church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, Sri Lankan police said.

There were also reports of casualties in a blast at a church north of the capital and the toll was expected to rise. Officials told TRT World they expected the death toll to cross 100.

National Hospital spokesman Dr Samindi Samarakoon earlier said at least 30 people had been killed in the blasts. The 283 people wounded have been admitted to the capital Colombo's main hospital, Samarakoon said.

A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters said he suspected at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.

The first blast ripped through St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo.

"Our people are engaged in evacuating the casualties," a Reuters' source said at St Anthony's.

Alex Agileson who was in the vicinity said buildings in the surrounding area shook with the blast. A number of injured were carried in ambulances, he added.

A second explosion was reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo. The church has appealed for help on its Facebook page.

"A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there," said the post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian's Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo. Another 10 people were confirmed dead in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country, where another church was targeted.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.

Courtesy: www.trtworld.com

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