LAST UPDATE 15:29
207 are dead and 400 injured from the blasts in three Christian churches and equal number of hotels in the capital Colombo and other cities of Sri Lanka, according to ANA-MPA.
“There are many injured, some of them in critical condition”, according to police statements, adding that only at the hospital of Colombo there are 254 injured and 60 more at the blasts in other cities.
The Sri Lankan government declared a curfew with immediate effect, junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene said.
“A curfew will be imposed until things settle down,” he told reporters in Colombo.
Government officials also said major social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, have been blocked inside the country to prevent misinformation and rumors.
The president of the country strongly condemned the “cowardly attacks”.
“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”, Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wrote in Twitter, adding that the government shall “undertake all measures to maintain sanguine peace”.
The prime minister, who held an emergency meeting of the National security council, also asked to “avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation”. According to authorities, there are at least nine (9) foreign citizens among the dead.
According to the police, in just one of the churches, St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, according to the police, more than 50 people were killed, while tv channels present pictures of dead bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof of the Christian temple. Another explosion was at St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Catholic Church in Kochcikade, Colombo, which is a tourist landmark.
At least 27 faithful have died in a church in Batticaloa, in the East.
Furthermore, in Colombo, Shangri-La, Kingsbury Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Colombo and a fourth hotel according to latest news were also hit, but it is unclear whether there are any casualties in the hotels.
Up to now no one has taken responsibility for the attacks, in a country which have suffered civil strife for decades, when, during the Tamil war of independence, bomb attacks occurred on a daily basis.
Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka
A series of coordinated attacks hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka this morning, causing extreme devastation. With men, women and children, from all walks of life and from different nationalities among the victims, this is a truly sad day for the country and for the world.
The European Union offers its most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have been killed and wishes a speedy recovery to the many wounded.
Easter Sunday is a special moment for Christians around the world. It is a time to give thanks, for remembrance, celebration, and peaceful prayer. Such acts of violence on this Holy Day are acts of violence against all beliefs and denominations, and against all those who value the freedom of religion and the choice to worship.
The European Union stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan authorities at this difficult time. The European Union is also ready to offer support.