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Posted at: Apr 22, 2019, 7:20 AM; last updated: Apr 22, 2019, 8:21 AM (IST)

Easter carnage in Lanka

215 killed, 500 hurt as 8 blasts hit churches, hotels
Easter carnage in Lanka
A view of St Sebastian’s Church which was damaged in a blast at Negombo, north of Colombo, on Sunday. AP/PTI

Colombo, April 21

A string of eight devastating blasts — including suicide attacks — struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 215 persons and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

The blasts, one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history, targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.

Explosions were reported from three five-star hotels: the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury in Colombo. No group has claimed responsibility.

However, most of the deadly attacks in the past were carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009.

The police said they were not able to confirm if they were all suicide attacks. They, however, said one of the blasts at the Katuwapitiya (Negombo) church had signs of a suicide attack. 

Later in the day, a powerful blast in the capital’s southern suburb near Colombo Zoo killed two persons.

When a police team entered a house in the Colombo north suburb of Orugodawatta to conduct a search, a suicide bomber blew himself up, causing a concrete floor of a two-storey building to crash on them, killing three policemen in the eighth blast, police said.

Soon after the eighth blast, the government imposed indefinite curfew.

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe termed the blasts “cowardly attacks” and said his government was working to “contain the situation”.

Local Christian groups have said they faced increasing intimidation from some extremist Buddhist monks in recent years. Last year, there were clashes between the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community and minority Muslims, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam. — Agencies

3 Indians killed

  • Three Indians were among those killed in multiple bomb blasts in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
  • The Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals, she said in a tweet.
  • She identified the Indians killed as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashe-khar and Ramesh.
  • The External Affairs Minister said she spoke to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana. “I conveyed that India is ready to provide all humanitarian assistance. In case required, we are ready to despatch our medical teams as well,” she added.
Seven arrested

State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said seven persons have been arrested in connection with the blasts. “We believe these were coordinated attacks, and one group was behind them.”

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