At least 138 people were killed, including nine foreigners, in six near simultaneous and co-ordinated explosions that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels frequented by tourists in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, in one of the deadliest blasts in the country’s history, officials said.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another, the Zion church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. local time as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, a police spokesperson said.
Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels — the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo. Foreigners and locals who were injured in hotel blasts were admitted to the Colombo General Hospital.
Harsha de Silva, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, said that there have been “many casualties including foreigners.”
“Forty-five people died in Colombo where three hotels and a church were hit, while more than 90 were killed in Negombo and 27 in Batticaloa,” hospital sources said, adding that more than 450 people were injured in the blasts.
Among the 45 bodies at the Colombo National Hospital there are nine foreigners, they said, adding that American and British citizens were among the dead.
The Colombo National Hospital spokesperson, Dr Samindi Samarakoon, said more than 300 people have been admitted with injuries.
Dr. Kalanidhi Ganeshalingam, the spokesperson for the Batticaloa hospital, said over 100 have been admitted with injuries from St. Michael’s Church explosion.
No claim of responsibility
No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks.
However, most of the deadly attacks in the past in Sri Lanka were carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The Archbishop of Colombo is calling for those responsible for the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka to be punished “mercilessly.”
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called on Sri Lanka’s government to launch a “very impartial strong inquiry” and to punish those found responsible “mercilessly because only animals can behave like that.”
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was meeting top military officials and tweeted earlier Sunday that “the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation.”
This story originally appeared on CBC