At least 156 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in simultaneous attacks on several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said.
Three of the explosions took place in Catholic churches while three other explosions were reported in luxury hotels – the Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury and Shangri-La – located in the heart of Colombo.
The first explosion was reported in a church located in the capital. The other blasts followed within half an hour.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called the blasts “cowardly” and said the government was working to “contain the situation.”
“I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he wrote in a tweet.
Local security officials said at least two of the attacks appeared to have been carried out by suicide bombers.
The sites were all heavily frequented by tourists, and at least nine foreign nationals were killed in the explosions, police told AFP. A hospital source said Americans, British and Dutch citizens were among the dead.
Police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera said the injured were being evacuated while security forces have cordoned off the areas and search operations are underway.
Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been blown almost entirely off in the blast. The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.
Several people could be seen covered in blood, some trying to help those with more serious injuries. Reports said at least 35 foreigners are among the dead.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility.
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