160 killed in Sri Lanka as churches and hotels targeted by terrorists

Death toll rises to 207 in Sri Lanka as churches and hotels targeted

According to reports, at least 207 people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured including perhaps close to 30 foreigners in terror attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

Reports say the number of victims continues to climb: At least 560 injured people have been admitted to hospitals following the devastating blasts. As many as 260 of the injured were admitted to the Colombo National Hospital, while 300 people were hospitalized following the blast at the Zion Church in Batticaloa.

At least eight blasts have been reported. Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services.

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and a fourth hotel, all in Colombo, were also hit.

Sri Lanka’s defense minister says most of the eight blasts that rocked the capital and surrounding areas are suspected suicide attacks.

Sri Lanka police report that they have arrested 7 suspects in the Easter bomb attacks:

Police in Sri Lanka will impose an island-wide curfew starting Sunday from 6 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET Sunday), finishing at 6 a.m. local (8:30 p.m ET Sunday) on Monday morning, according to the President’s secretary, Udaya R. Seneviratne.

The Sri Lankan government also said there would be a temporary block on the use of major social media networks amid fears of fake reports.

World leaders have expressed shock and condemnation over the deadly blasts in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka including from Australia, United States, India, Germany, UK, Turkey, European Union, New Zealand, Russia, Iran, and GCC countries (Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates).

Pope Francis also condemned the horrific attacks.

Where the attacks happened

Eight blast sites have been reported across Sri Lanka, including four in central Colombo.

Here is how political leaders around the world reacted soon after the attacks.

Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned the “devastating” bomb blasts in Sri Lanka and says it’s still unclear if any Australians are among the dead and injured in the Easter Day attack on the churches and hotels.

“The devastating nature of this horrific attack on innocent lives, simply going about their day, going to worship on the holiest of days of the Christian calendar, is just absolutely devastating,” Mr Morrison told reporters at Kirribilli House on Sunday.

“There are many Australians regularly traveling in Sri Lanka and our mission in Colombo will be following through on the safety of those Australians.”

United States

President Trump offered his condolences and help to the people of Sri Lanka:

“138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more than 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”

India

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the “horrific blasts” and said his country stands with the people of Sri Lanka.

“Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured,” Modi posted on Twitter.

Pakistan

Pakistan also condemned the attacks. Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan “stands in complete solidarity” with Sri Lanka. 

“Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”

Its foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal also issued a statement condemning the explosions. 

Germany

German Chancellor Angel Merkel said: “Terrorism, religious hatred and intolerance cannot be allowed to win.”

“We’re horrified by the news that Christians in Sri Lanka were attacked and killed during Easter services,” wrote Merkel’s spokesperson on Twitter. “We mourn them and pray for the injured and their family members.”

The German Foreign Office’s crisis response centre wrote that the situation in Sri Lanka was unclear and that it was trying to determine whether German nationals were affected by the attacks.

United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Theresa May also decried the attacks, describing the events as “truly appalling”.

“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” May said on Twitter.

“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.” 

Turkey

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks “an assault on all of humanity”.

The Turkish foreign minister also condemned the deadly attacks, which broke a nearly 10-year lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war in the South Asian island nation.

European Union

EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his “horror and sadness” after the deadly Easter Sunday attacks ripped through Sri Lanka.

“It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people,” Juncker said on Twitter, adding that the European Union stood ready to help.

“I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country,” Juncker said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the attacks marked “a truly sad day for the country and for the world”.

“Such acts of violence on this holy day are acts of violence against all beliefs and denominations, and against all those who value the freedom of religion and the choice to worship,” she added in a statement.

New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned the “devastating” attacks.

In a statement, Ardern referred to the March 15 shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in which 50 died.

“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil,” Ardern said.

“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely.”

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says 115 New Zealanders are registered as being in Sri Lanka but more are likely to be there. There is no indication New Zealanders are among the victims.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin also denounced the attacks as “cruel and cynical.”

In a telegram of condolences sent to his Sri Lankan counterpart, the Russian leader said Moscow remains a “reliable partner of Sri Lanka in the fight against international terrorism”.

He added that the Russians “share the grief of the relatives of those killed and wish a quick recovery to all those who were wounded” after the Easter Sunday blasts.

Putin voiced confidence that “the perpetrators and the masterminds of such a cruel and cynical crime committed amid the Easter festivities will take the punishment they deserve.”

Pope Francis

“I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka,” Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday message.

“I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”

Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shared condolences. 

“Terribly saddened by terrorist attacks on Sri Lankan worshippers during Easter. Condolences to friendly govt & people of Sri Lanka,” Zarif said on Twitter.

“Our thoughts & prayers with the victims & their families. Terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally.” 

GCC countries 

Three Gulf nations condemned the Easter Sunday bombings – Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – all of whom issued statements via their foreign ministries over the attack.

Qatar said it wanted to stress its “firm stance on rejecting violence and terrorism”.

The UAE called upon “the international community to close ranks and uproot the scourge of terrorism in order to ensure international peace and security.”

Bahrain, meanwhile, said, “these acts of terrorism are incompatible with religious principles and human and moral values.”

No group has yet said it was responsible for the attacks.

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