Death toll rises to 207 in Sri Lanka Easter bombings
At least 207 people were killed and some 450 others were injured in eight coordinated attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
The attacks marks some of the worst violence the country has seen since the end of its civil war a decade ago.
Police have imposed a 12 hour curfew that began at 6 p.m. local time. Officials have said flights will continue through that curfew, albeit with extra security checks.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, released a statement condemning the “cowardly attacks on our people” and asked “all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong.”
US president Donald Trump joined other international leaders in offering his condolences to Sri Lanka, saying: “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”
Christians are a minority in Sri Lanka, with the majority of Christians in the country being Roman Catholic. As Easter is one of Christianity’s holiest days, many of Sri Lanka’s Christian population were worshipping at church when the attacks took place.
A series blasts went off at around 8:45 a.m. local time, at three churches where Easter Mass was taking place. One attacked church, St. Anthony’s Shrine, is in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo; a church 20 miles to the north, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, was attacked as well; as was Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.
Bombings also occurred in five other locations including three hotels in Colombo namely, the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri-La Hotel, and The Kingsbury Hotel.
According to CNN, two other locations hit by bombs were, Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, and a house in Dematagoda, both Colombo suburbs.
One witness, who was at the Shangri-La, said in a Facebook post: “The bomb blasted inside Table One Restaurant on the 3rd floor, the main restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo where people were apparently having their Easter breakfast. Felt the blast all the way up to the 17th floor where we were sleeping. Few minutes later, we were asked to evacuate the hotel. While running down the stairs, saw a lot of blood on the floor but we were still clueless as to what really happened.”
Officials believe the attacks were conducted by people wearing suicide bombs. Authorities believe at least 207 people were killed and at least 450 others were wounded.
According to Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, at least 30 foreign tourists were killed in the bomb attacks. This number includes at least three British citizens, two people with dual US/UK citizenship, two Turkish citizens, three Chinese citizens, three Indian citizens, one Portuguese citizen, and one Dutch national. All foreigners were killed in the hotel attacks.