Updated 2 | Hundreds dead, scores more injured as blasts hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka

Explosions were reported across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, leaving over 200 dead and several hundreds more injured

Eight explosions across a number of churches and hotels have killed hundreds and injured scores more in Sri Lanka (Photo: IndiaTimes.com)
Eight explosions across a number of churches and hotels have killed hundreds and injured scores more in Sri Lanka (Photo: IndiaTimes.com)

Updated at 15.35pm with latest number of casualties and arrest of suspects

A number of explosions hit churches and high-end hotels in several cities in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, leaving at least 207 people dead and injuring up to 500.

Six explosions across three churches and three hotels were initially reported, but two more explosions took place later in the day. Foreign tourists are believed to be amongst those killed.

At least some of the attacks are suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers.

Seven suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, and it has been reported that the country's chief of police had 10 days earlier warned of an Islamic extremist plot to target "prominent churches". No group has till now claimed responsibility for the attack.  

Sri Lanka's government said it has shutdown access to social media websites and messaging services. It has also imposed a curfew with immediate effect.

The attacks were condemned by the international community, including by Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela. Writing on Twitter, Abela said he was "deeply shocked and saddened by the terrorist attacks on churches and hotel" on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.

"We strongly condemn the perpetrators and we stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka; our thoughts are with the families of victims and all those affected," Abela said.

At least 160 people were injured in the St Anthony's blast
At least 160 people were injured in the St Anthony's blast

Eight blasts reported in churches and hotels across the country

The first blasts were reported at St Anthony's Shrine in the country's capital Colombo and at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo.

Colombo National hospital director Samini Samrakoon told Reuters that there had been at least 20 people killed and 280 injured.

At least 160 people hurt in the blast at St Anthony's were admitted to the Colombo National hospital by mid-morning, AFP reported.

Just some time after the blasts at the two churches were reported, police confirmed that three hotels in Colombo - the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsburg - had also been hit, along with a church Batticaloa, at town in east Sri Lanka.

Hundreds of injured were reportedly admitted to Batticaloa hospital after the attack in Batticaloa, an official told AFP

Later in the day, a small blast - the seventh - was reported at the Tropical Inn hotel, near a zoo Dehiwela.

Sri Lankan MP Harsha de Silva said he had witnessed "horrible scenes" at one church and a hotel which he had visited.  “I saw many body parts strewn all over,” he wrote on Twitter, “Emergency crews are at all locations in full force.”

Around 6% of Sri Lankans are Catholic, with the majority of the country's population being Buddhist.

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