Explosions Rock Sri Lanka, Almost 200 Reported Dead
The coordinated attacks across the country targeted Catholics at Easter Mass and hotels popular with foreign tourists
Photos: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Multiple explosions ripped through different locations in the island nation of Sri Lanka in what appears to have been a coordinated terrorist attack. The focus of the explosions was Catholic churches where worshippers were attending Easter Mass services. Hotels popular with foreign tourists were also attacked.
At least 189 people have been reported killed in the attacks including 11 foreign nationals so far.
Sri Lanka was wracked by civil war for decades before finally ending in 2009. Even still, tensions run high between the ethnic groups that fought in that war and occasionally there has been violence, but it has been limited. The authorities are unsure of who or what organization planned and carried out these terrorist attacks as no one has claimed responsibility.
The explosions began at around 8:45am local time with the first target being St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a city about 20 miles north of the capital Colombo.
St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and Zion Church in the eastern coastal city of Batticaloa were also attacked, both with multiple fatalities.
Three hotels in Colombo were also targeted, the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.
As a precaution, soldiers shut down streets and other Catholic churches halted their masses and evacuated their buildings. Also, citizens rushed to donate blood for the unknown numbers of wounded who have been taken to hospitals for treatment.