At least 300 people killed in Sri Lanka after churches and luxury hotels hit by explosions

  • At least 300 people are dead and dozens more were injured after a series of explosions hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
  • Churches were bombed as worshippers attended Easter Sunday service.
  • The hotels targeted are among the most luxurious in Sri Lanka’s capital. 39 foreigners are among the dead, according to officials.
  • Eight explosions in various locations were carried out. Some of them were suicide attacks.
  • 24 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

At least 300 people have been killed and dozens more have been injured after a series of bomb blasts hit a number of churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Police updated the official death toll on Tuesday as hospitals tend to hundreds of people injured in the blasts.

Sri Lankan Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told press that several people have been arrested in connection with the attacks and that all of the Colombo attacks had been carried out by suicide bombers. Police said Tuesday that 24 people were arrested, some of whom had been known to police, the New York Times reports.

Three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo, and Batticaloa were targeted as worshippers attended Easter services, one of the biggest holidays in the Christian calendar.

More than 50 people were killed in St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, Negombo, a police official told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the hotels targeted are among the most luxurious in the country’s capital: The Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand, and Kingsbury.

Another two explosions in Dematagoda, Colombo, and Dehiwala, near Colombo, were later reported.

Sri Lankan tourism minister, John Amaratunga, said at least 39 foreigners were injured in the attacks, according to the New York Times.

On Twitter, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera called the attacks “a well coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem & anarchy.”

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe put out a timely warning against the proliferation of fake reports or videos on social media, saying, “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.”

Wickremesinghe has since invoked an island-wide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m local time.

The vast majority of the Sri Lankans are Buddhist, however, Christians make up 7.6 per cent of the country’s population, according to the 2012 census.

This is the first major attack in Sri Lanka since the civil war, which ended almost 10 years ago after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. However, there have been sporadic bouts of inter-religious violence in the years that followed.

In March last year, Sri Lanka declared a 10-day nation-wide state of emergency after clashes between Muslim and Buddhist communities reached fever pitch.

As it did last year, Sri Lanka today banned access to major social media sites.

Sri Lanka has a rising tourism sector, and was named Lonely Planet’s No.1 place to travel in 2019,

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