At least 207 people have been killed and over 450 are injured in explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, police sources said Sunday.
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to impose police curfew across the island immediately till further notice. Additionally, the government has decided to temporarily block social media sites including Facebook and Instagram. The Presidential Secretariat said in a statement that the decision to block social media was taken as false news reports were spreading through social media. The statement added that security forces were conducting comprehensive investigations into the incidents of explosions and that the blockage would be effective until investigations were concluded.
Addressing the media, Police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said that a series of coordinated bomb attacks targeted three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa during Easter services, as well as 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 hotels Kingsbury, Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grands came under attack.
At least 27 people died at the Batticaloa church, hospital sources said.
Following the explosions, the number of foreign nationals who have been identified as deceased at the National Hospital in Colombo stands at eleven. The fatalities are: three from India, one from Portugal, two from Turkey, three from the UK, and two holding US and UK nationalities.
Additionally, the government said that nine foreign nationals are reported missing, there are a further twenty five unidentified bodies believed to be those of foreigners at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s mortuary.
Furthermore, 19 foreign nationals injured in the attacks are receiving treatment at the Colombo National Hospital. Directors of Negombo and Batticaloa General Hospitals and the Colombo North Teaching Hospital have informed the Foreign Ministry that no foreigners have been admitted with injuries or declared dead at their respective hospitals.
A popular chef Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter have died in the explosion at Shangri-La hotel, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini reported.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, issued a statement calling for the nation to remain united. “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 said.