At least 156 people are dead in an Easter Sunday terrorist attack targeting Christians in Sri Lanka after eight explosions ripped through high-end hotels and churches as suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up.
The initial six explosions injured as many as 500 people, including Japanese and British citizens, and 35 foreigners – from the UK, US and Netherlands – are among the dead, sources say.
Reports now indicate a seventh explosion in the southern Colombo suburb of Dehiwala – which killed two people – and an eighth in the northern suburb of Orugodawatta.
Sri Lanka’s defence ministry has now ordered a night-time curfew, starting at 6.00pm local time (12.30GMT), running until 6.00am local time, and the Sri Lankan government said it had shut down access to social media messaging services, sources say. State minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators have identified the culprits behind the ‘terrorist’ attacks, and those responsible were religious extremists who would be taken into custody ‘as soon as possible’.
Two of the blasts were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers, according to one security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with reporters.
The official said at least 45 people had been killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit, along with another 67 in the church attack in Negombo, north of the capital, with another 25 dead at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.
The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. The first blasts were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital, with another reported at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.