Sri Lanka blasts: Death toll rises to 160
Published: 13:28 21 April 2019 Updated: 15:32 21 April 2019
In a series of blasts in Sri Lanka’s churches and hotels, death toll reaches to 160 and over 500 hundred people were reportedly injured.
The blasts hit several high-end hotels and a church in Colombo, while two other churches were targeted outside Colombo during Easter Mass, Sri Lanka police told news agency AFP.
The nature of the explosions, which happened at around 8:45 am local time, was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
The Sri Lanka government has called an emergency meeting, the Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet. "Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway," he tweeted.
President Maithripala Sirisena said he was shocked by the explosions and urged for calm.
The first explosions were reported at St Anthony's Church in Colombo and St Sebastian's Church at Katuwapitiya in the town of Negombo.
"A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there," read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian's Church.
Soon after the initial reports, four other blasts were confirmed by the police. Three of those were at hotels, while another was reported from a church in the town of Batticaloa.
An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.
In Colombo, the blasts hit the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, the Shangri-La and the Kingsbury.
At least one of the victims was killed in Colombo's Cinnamon Grand Hotel, near the prime minister's official residence, where the blast ripped through a restaurant, a hotel official told AFP.
Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.
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