138 people or more were killed and over 400
injured after 3 Sri Lankan churches and 3 hotels were hit by a string of explosions
on Easter Sunday (April 21), police and hospital sources said. Police officials added that at least nine
foreigners were among the dead. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who condemned
the “cowardly attacks”, has called for an emergency security council meeting to review
the attacks that seem to be coordinated. “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. “Please avoid propagating unverified reports
and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to
contain this situation.” President Maithripala Sirisena said in an
address that he was shocked by the explosions, and appealed for calm. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, writing
on his verified Twitter account, said the attacks had killed “many innocent people”
and appeared to be a “well-coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem & anarchy”. The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said four
Chinese nationals were injured, Xinhua news agency reported, adding that the nationals
were in stable condition. Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide
alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent
churches”, according to the warning seen by AFP. Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence
warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat. “A foreign intelligence agency has reported
that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting
prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” said the alert. The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka
that came to notice in 2018 when it was linked to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues. The first explosions on Sunday were reported
at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just
outside the capital. At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s
blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official told
AFP. Shortly after those blasts were reported,
police confirmed three high-end hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with
a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country. An official at the Batticaloa hospital told
AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there. Damage was seen at luxury hotels including
the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand. Bloomberg reported that police and emergency
vehicles have blocked the entrance to the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, where there’s
visible damage, including shattered windows, above the main entrance where a cafe is located. [News taken from COLOMBO by REUTERS, AFP,
BLOOMBERG] Thanks for watching.