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  • Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019.

    Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 April 2019

Sri Lanka's capital city was rocked by a number of explosions on Easter Sunday, causing several deaths and injuries. 

Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels killed 160 people and wounded more than 370, hospital and police officials said, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.

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In just one church, St. Sebastian's 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.

A source in the police bomb squad said that one of the explosions was at St Anthony’s Church in Kochcikade, Colombo. “Our people are engaged in evacuating the casualties,” the source said.

The explosions at the churches appear to be coordinated as the first two blasts occurred around 8:45 A.M. local time.

At about the same time in the capital, the Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were also hit, local media report.

Colombo National hospital said several wounded had been brought in for treatment.

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.

According to local authorities, at least 160 people were killed and 370 more wounded.

A source in the police told the AP that authorities suspect at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home for later in the day.

"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," he said in a Tweet.

"Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation."

"The Secretary of Defense and I am at Kochchikade church. Also was at ShangriLa n Kingsbury. The Prime Minister is on his way from Bentota. Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway", Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Harsha De Silva wrote on Twitter, noting that there are foreign citizens among those killed in the blasts. "Please stay calm and indoors", he added.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

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