Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels killed over 150 people and wounded more than 400, hospital and police officials said.
Nine foreigners were among the dead, the officials said. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.
Several leaders across the world condemned the attack.
Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, has condemned the “terrorist” attacks in Sri Lanka.
“I cannot imagine a human being could target the peaceful on their celebration day,” said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the institution’s grand imam.
“Those terrorists’ perverted disposition goes against the teachings of all religions,” he said in comments published on Al-Azhar’s Twitter account.
“I pray that God grants patience to the families of the casualties and recovery to the injured,” added Sheikh Tayeb.
Al-Azhar frequently denounces jihadist movements and regularly reaches out to the Christian faith.
In February, Pope Francis and Sheikh Tayeb signed a document on “human fraternity for world peace”, hailed by the Vatican as an “important step forward in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims”.
But some intellectuals have accused Al-Azhar’s scholarly institutions of feeding fundamentalism and intolerance.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expressing “deep shock” over the deadly attacks.
Mr. Netanyahu issued a statement on Sunday saying that “Israel stands ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this difficult time”.
The Prime Minister says that “the entire world must unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism”.
U.S. President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump on Sunday offered “heartfelt condolences” to the people of Sri Lanka after a series of deadly explosions at churches and hotels in the island nation killed more than 160 people.
“The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”
Earlier, the President had erroneously tweeted that 138 million people were killed in the attacks. The tweet was subsequently deleted.
World celebrities condemn Sri Lanka blasts
Calling for swift action from authorities and an appeal for peace, celebrities from around the world such as Jacqueline Fernandez, Mindy Kaling, Shekhar Kapur and Ali Zafar condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that targeted people in churches, luxury hotels and a housing complex on Easter Sunday. The eight blasts killed nearly 160 people — including dozens of foreigners — with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.
Bollywood actor and former Miss Universe Sri Lanka, Fernandez said “violence is like a chain reaction” and it is time it stopped. “Extremely sad at the news of bombings in Sri Lanka. It’s unfortunate that one is not able to see that violence is like a chain reaction. This has to stop!” she said.
Indian-origin American actor-writer Kaling said it is “sickening” how people celebrating Easter were attacked on “one of the holiest of days“. “This news from Sri Lanka is horrifying. My heart goes out to all victims and their families. So many were people attending church on one of the holiest of days, I am absolutely sickened,” she tweeted.
Filmmaker Kapur said terrorism is a threat to the whole world. “Latest reports say 150 people killed in Sri Lanka in terrorist attacks on churches, hotels. While none has admitted to this, it was a well coordinated attack at Easter. When Churches were full. Terrorism remains our number one global enemy. No one, nowhere is safe,” the director said.
Pakistani actor-singer Zafar urged people to stay united in this hour of need. “Saddened to hear about the terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Heart goes out to the innocent lives lost and the people of #SriLanka. We must collectively strive to to bring sustainable peace to the region,” he tweeted.
American pop star Mariah Carey said her heart goes out to the country. “Sri Lanka, my heart is with you. I’m praying for everyone affected by this horrible tragedy. Stay strong,” she wrote on Twitter.
Actor and politician Kamal Haasan said violence can never be the solution to human disagreements. “Ironic that the island that spawned the word serendipity is not able to find it. My deepest sympathies to those affected by the bombs in Sri Lanka. The government should be impartial and swift in rendering justice,” Haasan tweeted.
Abhishek Bachchan sent his prayers and thoughts to the neighbouring country. “?Stay strong #SriLanka!” the actor wrote on the microblogging site.
R Madhavan tweeted, “So very heart breaking and tragic. Heartfelt sympathies to all families of the victims. God give them courage to handle this cowardice.”
Arjun Kapoor said he was “disturbed to hear about the monstrous attack in Sri Lanka on such an auspicious day”.
Parineeti Chopra tweeted, “Could never have thought a quiet country like #Srilanka could be attacked like this. What is the world coming to? Thinking of all the families affected. All my love and prayers always.”
“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragic act of violence in Sri Lanka. We are praying with you in this painful moment of sorrow, grief and shock,” Anushka Sharma tweeted.
Dia Mirza wrote, “My heart goes out to #Srilanka. Thoughts and prayers for all the families who have lost their loved one’s…”
Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar also took to Twitter to condemn the attacks. “Deeply saddened and shocked to hear about the church bomb blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday… My prayers for those who lost their lives and condolences to their families… We condemn the terror attack,” Matondkar, who recently joined the Congress party, said.
“My heartfelt condolences and prayers are with the families affected in #Srilanka. Here’s praying and hoping for a terror free world!” Sidharth Malhotra tweeted.
Vicky Kaushal wrote, “Prayers for Sri Lanka.”
Swara Bhasker called the news of serial blasts “heartbreaking and tragic“. “Curses upon the monsters who carried out this inhumanity! On a joyous festive day! What is the world coming to? Prayers and strength to the victims and families,” she tweeted.
Boman Irani said he was shocked to hear the extremely disturbing news and recalled staying at one of the hotels struck by the blasts. “Had stayed at the hotels and it’s heartbreaking to even imagine the situation. My heartfelt condolences to the near and dear ones of those who lost their lives & praying for a speedy recovery of the ones injured,” Irani tweeted.
South actor Siddharth said he is devastated by the news of blasts in Sri Lanka. “Places of worship and hotels have been targeted. To all those affected, you are in our prayers,” he said.
TV actor-host Karan Tacker wrote, “This has just left me silent. Really sorry for the families of the people affected by this. #SriLanka”.
Senseless attacks, says US
The US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina Teplitz, tweeted: “Deeply saddened by the senseless attacks in Sri Lanka today. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We stand with Sri Lanka’s people at this terrible moment.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan offered his “profound condolences” to Sri Lanka.
“Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured,” he tweeted.
“My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”
World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder
“World Jewry – in fact all civilized people – denounce this heinous outrage and appeal for zero tolerance of those who use terror to advance their objectives. This truly barbarous assault on peaceful worshippers on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar serves as a painful reminder that the war against terror must be at the top of the international agenda and pursued relentlessly,” he said in a statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
“It is shocking that people who had gathered to celebrate Easter were the deliberate target of vicious attacks,” she wrote in a letter of condolence to Sri Lanka’s president.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
“I condemn in the strongest terms possible the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka. This is an assault on all of humanity,” he tweeted.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
“Terribly saddened by terrorist attacks on Sri Lankan worshippers during Easter. Condolences to friendly govt & people of Sri Lanka. Our thoughts & prayers with the victims & their families. Terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally,” he said on Twitter.
Pope condemns Sri Lanka Easter attacks
Pope Francis on Sunday condemned attacks that killed at least 138 people in three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka as “such cruel violence” and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter.
The blasts, which hospital and police officials said injured more than 400 people, followed a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
“I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka,” Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.
“I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” said Francis, who visited Sri Lanka in 2015.
“I entrust to the Lord those who have tragically died and I pray for the wounded and for all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event,” he said.
France President Emmanuel Macron says “Deep sadness after the terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We strongly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts for all the relatives of the victims on this Easter day.”
Mehbooba Mufti condemns blast
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti has said she is “pained” to hear about the “horrific” news. The PDP leader took to Twitter to share her thoughts.
“Pained to hear about the horrific serial blasts in Sri Lanka. The sole purpose of these barbaric acts is to create panic & hatred amongst people. It would help not to draw conclusions by floating irresponsible & baseless theories, ” she wrote.
Paris archbishop mourns Sri Lanka Easter victims
The archbishop of Paris and parishioners of fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral are mourning the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. Archbishop Michel Aupetit tweeted: “Why so much hate on this day when we celebrate love? On this Easter day, we are in communion with our murdered brethren of Sri Lanka.” Aupetit celebrated Easter Mass for worshippers displaced from normal services at Notre Dame because of Monday’s fire. A soldier and several police guarded the building. It was unclear whether the extra security was linked to the Sri Lanka attack, but parishioner Monique Pigere said “I understand why” security is needed, lamenting the “terrible” news.
Tamil Nadu leaders condemn mass killings
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam condemned the mass killings by suicide bombers in Sri Lanka on Sunday. In a joint statement issued in Chennai, the two leaders said: “We condemn the attack on the churches where large number of Tamil Christians live.” They said the attack in a place where innocent people had congregated to pray to God was shocking. PMK founder S. Ramadoss also expressed his shock.
EU commission chief expresses ‘horror and sadness’
EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his “horror and sadness” after a deadly string of Easter Sunday attacks ripped through Sri Lanka. “It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people,” Mr. Juncker said on Twitter, adding that the European Union stood ready to help. “I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country,” Mr. Juncker said.
Terrible reports, says the Netherlands
“Terrible reports from Sri Lanka about bloody attacks on hotels and churches on this Easter Sunday,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted after the attacks first emerged. “Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives.”
Horrific terrorist attack, says Australia
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was thinking of those killed in a “horrific terrorist attack”. “To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support — and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need,” he said in a statement. “At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack.”
New Zealand PM describes attack as ‘devastating’
A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as “devastating”. “New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating. “New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.”
Catholic Church in Holy Land expresses solidarity
The Catholic Church in Jerusalem said the blasts were particularly sad as they “came while Christians celebrate Easter”. “We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation,” the statement said. “We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has condemned the multiple bomb blasts in a tweet. “I’m saddened and disturbed by reports of multiple bomb blasts in Colombo in which over 100 people have died and more than 300 injured. I strongly condemn this diabolical act of terrorism. My condolences to the families of the victims. I pray the injured make a speedy recovery,” he wrote.
British Prime Minister Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the deadly string of attacks as “truly appalling”. “The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear,” she said on Twitter.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal condemned the terror attack in “strongest terms”, saying enemies of humanity cannot be allowed to succeed. “Extremely sad news from Sri Lanka on Easter. Enemies of humanity cannot be allowed to succeed in any part of the world and acts of terror should be condemned in strongest terms,” he said in a tweet.
President Maithripala Sirisena
President Maithripala Sirisena, in a special message which was read out on local news channels, urged the public to remain calm and cooperate with the authorities to conduct swift investigations into the blasts, reported Xinhua news agency. “I am shocked and saddened by the situation that has occurred. Investigations have been launched to look into what conspiracy is behind these heinous acts. Please remain calm and do not be fooled by rumours,” Mr. Sirisena said.
Actor Prakash Raj
Actor Prakash Raj strongly condemned the blasts saying “.. as people are praying…. This HATE… THESE UGLY ACTS OF MAJORITARIANISM will consume US..HUMANITY one day…dear CITIZENS this is why we need to BE AWARE and BE CAREFUL and CONDEMN all the BIGOTS who are sowing hatred .and dividing us in our society today.”
CPI(Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury
CPI(Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted, “Terrible news. Condolences to the families of the victims. There is no place for mindless violence in society.”
President Ram Nath Kovind
President of India Ram Nath Kovind condemned the attack saying, “India condemns the terror attacks in Sri Lanka and offers its condolences to the people and government of the country. Such senseless violence, aimed at innocent people, has no place in civilised society. We stand in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi “strongly condemned the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka” saying, “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.”
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted saying, “Strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. 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.”
(With inputs from Agencies)