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Sri Lanka Easter bombings live updates: Death toll rises to 207
April 21, 2019 | 1:28 PM
by Times News Service
Image Courtesy: San Sebastian's church in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka
 
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7:30 p.m. Colombo: The number of people killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka has risen to 207, according to state media.

Another 450 people were injured in the attacks.

Addressing the media, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said that a series of coordinated bomb attacks targeted three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa during Easter services and three hotels.

Bombs exploded at the St. Anthony's Church in Kochchikade, St. Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya, Katana, and Zion Church in Batticaloa while The Kingsbury Colombo, Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels also came under attack.



A popular chef Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter have died in the explosion at Shangri-La hotel, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini reported. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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3:30 p.m. Colombo:
Seven people have been arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka that killed at least 160 people.

According to Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Harsha de Silva, the country's Defence Minister Ruwan Wiewardene confirmed the arrests during a meeting with local media.

Additionally, de Silva added that close to 30 foreigners had died.

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2:30 p.m. - Rome
: Pope Francis has condemned the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, which have killed at least 160 people.

Speaking in St. Peter's Square at the conclusion of his Easter Address, the pontiff said, “I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”

The Pope said the multiple attacks on churches and hotels around Sri Lanka “have wrought grief and sorrow”.

He added, "I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, said it is “a very, very sad day for all of us.”

“I wish, therefore, to express my deepest sorrow and sympathy to all those innocent families that have lost someone, and also to those who have been injured and rendered destitute,” he continued.

Cardinal Ranjith said, “I condemn – to the utmost of my capacity – this act that has caused so much death and suffering to the people.”

He also called on Sri Lanka’s government to hold “a very impartial, strong inquiry and find out who is responsible behind these acts”.

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1:45 p.m. -
Sri Lanka has been struck by a seventh and eighth blast after explosions earlier in the day killed at least 160 people on Easter Sunday.

The country's government has declared a nationwide curfew from 18:00 local time to 06:00.

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12:00 p.m. -
At least 160 people were killed in Sri Lanka after explosions targeted churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, according to state media outlets.

Foreign tourists were also among the deceased.

The explosions occurred on Sunday morning at roughly 8:45 a.m. (local time). The nature of the explosions have yet to be established.

Emergency meetings were held by senior officials in the country including the heads of the army, navy, air force and the Ministry of Defence.

MP Harsha de Silva called on citizens to not speculate over the perpetrators of the attack. "Please act responsibly. Please NO politics. We must all act together as Sri Lankan citizens. My condolences to all families who lost loved ones," he appealed.

He confirmed that security had been tightened and that all measures were being taken "to ensure peace.”

The leave of all police officers was cancelled as per a directive from the country's Inspector General, state news media reported.

The country's Minister of Finance Mangala Samawareewa said in a statement, "Easter Sunday bomb blasts in churches and hotels, killing many innocent people seems to be a well coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem and anarchy. All those who cherish democracy, freedom and economic prosperity must unite now with nerves of steel to defeat this heinous attempt."

Due to heightened security, Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport issued a call for passengers to arrive four hours before their flights. Schools on the island have also been shut till Wednesday according to the Ministry of Education.

According to reports, worshippers were targeted at the Kochikade, St. Sebastian's and Batticaloa Churches during Easter mass. Other locations hit by the explosions include the Shangri La Hotel, Hotel Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand.

The Cinnamon Group stated that an explosion had occurred on the ground floor of their Colombo branch. "Medical evacuation was activated immediately for the injured. The area has been isolated for investigations and security clearance," they added.

The attacks have sparked global outcry, with world leaders expressing solidarity with Sri Lanka.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "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."

The leader of the Maldives, Ibrahim Solih added, "Saddened by the horrific events in Sri Lanka this morning. My heartfelt sympathies to all affected by this cowardly act of terror. At this difficult time, I affirm our solidarity with the government and people of Sri Lanka and assure our support in the fight against terrorism."

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said, "My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief."

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also condemned the attacks, saying, "I'm deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today. To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked. My prayers are with the victims and their families, and with those assisting in the response."

The UK's High Commissioner in Sri Lanka James Dauris also said, "The Easter Day service my family and I were at in Colombo today was cut short following explosions in churches and hotels. Our prayers for the victims of these evil attacks, and for their families. Our thoughts are with the medical staff, police and all involved in the response."

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