COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—Six bomb blasts that went off close to simultaneously on Easter Day at three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels have killed at least 160 people and wounded around 400, hospital and police officials said.
All six blasts occurred around 8:45 a.m. as Easter Sunday masses were underway in the churches.
In just one church, St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, more than 50 people were killed, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews, and a destroyed roof.
Media reported 25 people were also killed in an attack on a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province.
The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel, and Cinnamon Grand Colombo. It was unclear whether there were any casualties in the hotels.
At least nine foreigners are among the dead, the officials said.
9 foreigners among those who dead in Colombo – Colombo Hospital
— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) April 21, 2019
— Rj Saksi™ (@saksivarnan) April 21, 2019
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home for later in the day.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he said in a Tweet.
I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.
— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) April 21, 2019
“Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”
Rumours circulating on social media that the Red Cross building was attacked is false and wrong information. Please refrain from spreading unauthentic and false information on Social Media.
— Sri Lanka Red Cross (@SLRedCross) April 21, 2019
Opposition leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan also took to Twitter, calling for unity against “extremists.”
“I call upon all people of this country to come together and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones in these cowardly and tragic attacks,” he said. “Let us stay together and be strong so that these extremists will not be able to take this country backward.”
I call upon all people of this country to come together and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones in these cowardly and tragic attacks. Let us stay together and be strong so that these extremists will not be able to take this country backwards.
— Sampanthan (@R_Sampanthan) April 21, 2019
“I urge his excellency the president and the prime minister to take necessary steps to identify the preparators of these crimes and to bring them before the law.”
One of the explosions was at St. Anthony’s Church in Kochcikade, Colombo.
St. Sebastian’s church posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the floor, and requested help from the public.
Local media News First reported that hospital facilities in Colombo were coping well under the influx of patients from the morning’s attacks and that there had been no shortage of blood with many people flooding into the city’s blood banks to donate.
— Zahrah Imtiaz (@Imtiaz88Zahrah) April 21, 2019
No shortage of blood, medicine, staff or ambulances, hospitals able to provide the required card: Head of National Hospitals #lka
— Marianne David (@MarianneDavid24) April 21, 2019
Sri Lanka’s Minister for Economic Reforms and Public Distribution with the United National Party Dr. Harsha de Silva, added to the call for calm, saying on Twitter that the government and senior military personnel had met and announced that security measures have been tightened in the wake of the attacks.
PM @RW_UNP met w ministers n senior military personnel; all measures taken to maintain peace. Security tightened. Please stay calm. Please act responsibly. Please NO politics. We must all act together as #SriLanka citizens. My condolences to all families who lost loved ones. pic.twitter.com/j6e3qEPgNt
— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) April 21, 2019
De Silva urged for “NO politics” and asked Sri Lankans to “act together as Sri Lankan citizens.”
“My condolences to all families who lost loved ones,” he said.
Posted by Newsfirst.lk on Saturday, April 20, 2019
Local media reported that church services on Easter Sunday would be canceled for security reasons.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted his thoughts and prayers for the bereaved families and those who were injured in the blasts on Twitter.
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.
— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 21, 2019
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.