International News

Multiple deaths as simultaneous blasts hit three churches, three hotels in Sri Lanka

A string of blasts hit high-end hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and injuring hundreds as worshippers attended Easter services.

The official says they suspect the blasts at two churches were carried out by suicide bombers.

The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.

The Colombo National hospital director, Samindi Samrakoon, told Reuters she knew of at least 20 deaths and 280 people injured.

Photos from Inside the church in Sri Lanka. PC:vAditya Raj Kaul [Twitter]

At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National hospital by mid-morning, an official told AFP.

“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,” read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.

Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.

Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo after an explosion. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.

A Sri Lankan MP, Harsha de Silva, said he had been to one church and a hotel and seen “horrible scenes”. “I saw many body parts strewn all over,” he wrote on Twitter. “Emergency crews are at all locations in full force.”

Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast.

The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.

Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.

The images could not immediately be verified.

Only around 6% 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.

Source: The Guardian & 1 News

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