Published: Wed, April 24, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Easter Sunday Blasts in Sri Lanka Kill at Least 30

Easter Sunday Blasts in Sri Lanka Kill at Least 30

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -Sri Lanka's state-run newspaper has reported that 129 people have died in a series of Easter Sunday blasts targeting three churches and three hotels.

In the earlier blasts, over 160 people were killed and more than 400 - including foreign nationals - were injured as multiple explosions in Colombo and the cities of Negombo and Batticaloa on Sunday morning.

More than 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, 12 percent are Hindu and 10 percent are Muslim, the census shows.

Much of the church roof was blown out in the explosion, with roof tiles, glass and splintered wood littering the floor along with pools of blood.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said investigations have been launched and called for the public to remain calm.

Also, three police officers were killed during a search at a suspected safe house on the outskirts of Colombo when its occupants apparently detonated explosives to prevent arrest, authorities said.

Sri Lanka's national airline carrier - SriLankan Airlines - has asked all passengers flying out of Bandaranaike International Airport to report at least four hours prior to departure.

The explosions, some of which officials said were suicide bomb attacks, led to an immediate clampdown, with the government declaring a curfew and blocking access to most major social media and messaging sites.

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

Local Christian groups have said they faced increasing intimidation from some extremist Buddhist monks in recent years. "I have already instructed the Secretary / Defence, Tri Forces Commanders and the Inspector General of Police to take stringent action to ensure law and order in the country", it said.

Hard-line Buddhist groups accuse Muslims of forcing people to convert and destroying sacred Buddhist sites.

"I saw many body parts strewn all over", he tweeted, adding that there were "many casualties including foreigners".

The explosions at three churches and three hotels collapsed ceilings and blew out windows, killing worshippers and hotel guests. Another 67 were killed in an attack on a church in Negombo north of the capital, with another 25 dead at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.

"In my opinion, the nature of attacks and the selection of churches on Easter Sunday bear the hallmark of global jihadist groups like Al-Qaida or "Islamic State" (IS) and/or their local affiliates", Wolf underlined.

World leaders have spoken out to condemn the attack, from US President Donald Trump to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis.

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