A series of bombing attacks occurred at three Catholic churches and three hotels in three major cities across Sri Lanka including Colombo, the country’s largest city, killing at least 200 people in the morning on Easter Sunday, CNN reported.
The blasts occurred simultaneously at multiple sites including Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand, the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, and churches in the cities of Negombo and Batticaloa. “Since most people staying at the hotels are foreign tourists, foreign visitors will likely account for majority of the victims,” local media outlets reported.
Right after the blasts occurred, photos of the scene at St. Sebastian’s Church were uploaded on social media sites. The photos show images of the church whose ceiling has been completely destroyed due to the blast, and signs of gruesome blood scattered on the seats for congregation in the church. “The blast occurred near the cafeteria,” said a Cinnamon Hotel source told a foreign media outlet.
Police is tallying the number of casualties at nearby hospitals, and the number of fatalities is feared to increase further. Reuters reported at least 50 people were killed in Negombo alone. Sri Lankan finance minister Harsha de Silva said, “The blasts are believed to have been thoroughly planned to cause chaos.”
With those behind the attacks yet to be identified, watchers in the country suspect Islamic State, the Sunni militant group, could be responsible. Last year, Buddhists in the nation launch attacks at Islamic mosques en masse, causing the government to declare a state of national emergency. About 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s population are Buddhists, while Muslims account for 10 percent, and Christians 7.4 percent.
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