UPDATE 2: At least 200 killed, 450 wounded in attacks on Sri Lankan hotels and churches
The government declared a curfew in Colombo and blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp. It was unclear when the curfew would be lifted.
More than 50 people were killed in St. Sebastian’s gothic-style Catholic church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.
Media reported 25 people were also killed in an attack on an evangelical church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province.
The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. It was unclear whether there were any casualties in the hotels.
Nine foreigners were among the dead, the officials said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home for later in the day.
“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,” he said in a Tweet.
“Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”
Update: Sri Lankan police on Sunday reported there had been a seventh explosion, the fourth at a hotel, following six reported at hotels and churches earlier in the day that killed nearly 140 people.[break]
The latest explosion to be reported was at a hotel near the national zoo, which is in an area near the capital Colombo.
“There was an explosion in a hotel in Dehiwela near the zoo,” a police official told Reuters adding that there were no further details available.
The Sri Lankan government declared a curfew with immediate effect, junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene said on Sunday, following eight explosions that killed nearly 140 people, and mostly targeted churches and hotels.
“A curfew will be imposed until things settle down,” he told reporters in Colombo. ■