More than 200 people were killed and at least 450 others were injured in eight coordinated attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. The death toll continues to rise, with at least 207 people dead, according to police.
The attacks marks some of the worst violence the country has seen since the end of its civil war a decade ago. Police have imposed a 12 hour curfew that began at 6 p.m. local time. Officials have said flights will continue through that curfew, albeit with extra security checks.
Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, released a statement condemning the “cowardly attacks on our people” and asked “all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong.”
Christians are a minority in Sri Lanka, with the majority of Christians in the country being Roman Catholic. As Easter is one of Christianity’s holiest days, many of Sri Lanka’s Christian population were worshipping at church when the attacks took place.
What we know so far;• Around 8:45 a.m. local time, a series of blasts rang out at three churches where Easter Mass was taking place, the New York Times says.
• One attacked church, St. Anthony’s Shrine, is in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo; a church 20 miles to the north, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, was attacked as well; as was Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.
• Bombings occurred in at least five other locations, including three Colombo hotels: the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri-La Hotel, and The Kingsbury Hotel.
• According to CNN, two other locations hit by bombs were: Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, and a house in Dematagoda, both Colombo suburbs.
• One witness, who was at the Shangri-La, said in a Facebook post: “The bomb blasted inside Table One Restaurant on the 3rd floor, the main restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo where people were apparently having their Easter breakfast. Felt the blast all the way up to the 17th floor where we were sleeping. Few minutes later, we were asked to evacuate the hotel. While running down the stairs, saw a lot of blood on the floor but we were still clueless as to what really happened.”
• Officials believe the attacks were conducted by people wearing suicide bombs. Authorities believe at least 207 people were killed and at least 450 others were wounded.
• At least 30 foreigners have been killed, according to Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva. This number includes at least three British citizens, two people with dual US/UK citizenship, two Turkish citizens, three Chinese citizens, three Indian citizens, one Portuguese citizen, and one Dutch national. All foreigners were killed in the hotel attacks.
• A number of leaders have condemned the killings. Pope Francis, at Easter Mass Sunday referred to the attacks as “acts of cruel violence” and said, “I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished,” he said. “And I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”
• 13 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said. A vehicle police believe was used by suspects was taken into evidence. Officers have also discovered what they believe to be a safe house used by attackers.