MORE than 200 people are reported to have died with 450 injured in explosions at three hotels and three churches in Sri Lanka.
One of the explosions tore through St Anthony’s Shrine in the capital Colombo, which was packed with worshippers on Easter Sunday. It is thought 35 foreigners from eight different nationalities including Japanese, Dutch, British, American and Portuguese tourists, are amongst the dead.
The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels, all in the capital, were also targeted.
A national curfew has been put in place “until further notice” and social media networks have been temporarily blocked.
Police have arrested seven suspects at Colombo’s international airport.
St Anthony’s Shrine and the hotels are in the capital Colombo, and are frequented by foreign tourists. The other two churches are in Negombo, a town north of Colombo, and the eastern town of Batticaloa.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said: “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. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”
A security official claimed suicide bombers were behind at least two of the eight blasts. Three police officers were killed when one bomber blew himself up as police raided a house.
This is the worst violence to hit the island since a decades-long civil war with Tamil separatists ended in 2009.