An ongoing series of bomb blasts struck luxury hotels and churches across Sri Lanka on Sunday, April 21, 2019.
At least 140 people were killed and 560 have been injured in the coordinated terror attacks, which have put the entire country on lock-down.
The first wave of attacks struck at the heart of the country’s minority Christian community during busy Easter services at churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Sunday morning.
Additional blasts ripped through three high-end hotels, the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury Hotel, all in capital city Colombo.
In a statement, the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo said that the hotel’s Table One cafe was hit just after 9 a.m local time. The hotel is popular with foreign tourists and the country’s business community.
A seventh and eighth blast, at a hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and at a private house in Mahawila Gardens, in Dematagoda, occurred Sunday afternoon.
Here’s the full list of blast sites reported so far:
- St Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade
- St Sebastian’s Church, Negombo
- Zion Church, Batticaloa
- Cinnamon Grand, Colombo
- Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo
- The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo
- Near Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
A house in Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda
At least 20 foreigners are among the dead in Colombo, according to hospital Director General Anil Jasinghe. Hospitals have opened their doors to scores of victims.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s attacks. Sri Lankan security officials said police and security services immediately rushed to all affected areas and sealed off the churches and hotels.
The violence ends a decade of relative peace in Sri Lanka following the end of its civil war in 2009. Terrorist bombings were common during the brutal 25-year struggle.
Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo, spoke to CNN from St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the locations targeted.
He said that the blast took place after Easter Mass, and that there were about 30 bodies lying in the area of the church.
He said three priests had been celebrating the mass at the time of the blast. Two of them were badly injured by flying glass and debris, and one was only lightly injured because he was behind the altar.
He estimated that more than a thousand people had come to the church for Easter Sunday “because it is a special day.” Many came from villages, he added.
He described the ground as covered in rubble and shattered glass.
“You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside of the church,” he added.
Read more at CNN