Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sri Lanka Grieves on Easter Sunday

Soldiers stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka

At least 67 people are reported to have been killed in St Sebastian Church in Katuwapitiya, Negombo, north of the capital Colombo

Catholic priests wait inside St Sebastian's Church, while officials inspect the scene. They stand next to a blood-splattered statue of Jesus Christ

Crime scene officials inspect the explosion area at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo

A soldier stands guard next to shuttered shops in Batticaloa. A curfew is in place in Sri Lanka

A total of eight explosions rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, leaving at least 207 people dead and 450 injured. 

The death toll could rise significantly as hospitals report casualty figures.

News reports indicated that churches and hotels were specifically targeted. The bomb blasts were believed to be the work of suicide bombers – and have led to an immediate clampdown, with the government declaring a curfew and blocking access to most major social media and messaging sites. 

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has appealed for calm. 

All leave for police personnel has been cancelled in the wake of today’s bombings. Doctors, nurses and health officials who were on leave have been asked to report to work. And government schools have been ordered closed for Monday and Tuesday. 

It comes ten days after Sri Lanka's police chief issued alert on possible attacks to come. 

There have been no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009, during which bomb blasts in the capital were common. 

So far, seven suspects have been arrested.

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