International

Live | Blasts hit Sri Lanka’s Colombo, over 40 dead

At least 137 people, including nine foreigners, were killed and 500 others hospitalised in Sri Lanka on Sunday when a string of blasts ripped through hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services.

The explosions hit three high-end hotels in the capital, where a church was also targeted. Two additional churches were hit, one near Colombo and the other in the east of the country, police officials told AFP .

Here are live updates:

12: 50 pm

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemns attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack in Sri Lanka, tweeting, “There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.”

 

12: 40 pm

Remain united and strong: Sri Lanka PM

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has condemned the attack. “I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation,” he tweeted.

From our Colombo Correspondent Meera Srinivisan:

A high-level meeting convened by Mr. Wickremesinghe has commenced. He is likely to address the media soon after, according to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office.

12: 20 pm

Sri Lanka police chief had warned of suicide attack threat

Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”, according to the warning seen by AFP.

Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat.

“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” said the alert – AFP

11: 30 am

Our Colombo correspondent Meera Srinivasan reports

Following the blasts, the Army has deployed 200 troops in Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened an emergency meeting.

There has been no official comment yet on suspected perpetrators of the blasts. No one has claimed responsibility so far.

Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony’s Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday.  


 

11:15 am

At least 42 reported dead

According to police and local media, at leas 42 people have been confirmed dead in the blasts.

At least one of the victims was killed in Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand Hotel, near the prime minister’s official residence, where the blast ripped through a restaurant, a hotel official told AFP.

11 am

Keeping a close watch on the situation: Sushma Swaraj

Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has tweeted that she is monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka. The details of those injured are yet to be declared.

Meanwhile, the High Commission of India in Colombo has opened up its helpline for those in need of assistance. 

Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789

10: 30 am

Blasts hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday, injuring at least 80 people as worshippers attended Easter services, police and health officials said.

“Eighty people have already been admitted, and more are still coming in,” an official at the Colombo National Hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Police said the blasts hit churches in the north of the capital and in the town of Negombo, just outside Colombo.

The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear.

“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,” read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.

Source: thehindu.com

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