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BANGKOK 19 May 2019 15:54
Jonathan Fairfield

At least 156 dead, hundreds injured in multiple blasts at churches, hotels on Easter Sunday

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At least 156 dead, hundreds injured in multiple blasts at churches, hotels on Easter Sunday

By Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez

 

2019-04-21T063432Z_1_LYNXNPEF3K08I_RTROPTP_4_SRI-LANKA-BLAST.JPG

 

COLOMBO (Reuters) - At least 156 people were killed and more than 400 injured after three Sri Lankan churches and three hotels were hit by a string of explosions on Easter Sunday (April 21), police and hospital sources said.

 

Police officials added that at least 35 foreigners were among the dead. A hospital source said Americans, British and Dutch citizens were among those killed in the six blasts.

 

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.

 

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.

 

Christian groups say they have faced increasing intimidation from some extremist Buddhist monks in recent years. And last year, there were clashes between the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community and minority Muslims, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam.

 

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."

 

President Maithripala Sirisena said he had ordered the police special task force and military to investigate who was behind the attacks and their agenda.

 

The military had been deployed, according to a military spokesman, and security stepped up at Colombo's international airport.

 

ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS

 

One of the explosions was at St Anthony's Shrine, a Catholic Church in Kochcikade, Colombo, which is a tourist landmark.

St. Sebastian's posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the floor, and requested help from the public.

 

Last year, there were 86 verified incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents more than 200 churches and other Christian organisations.

 

This year, the NCEASL recorded 26 such incidents, including one in which Buddhist monks allegedly attempted to disrupt a Sunday worship service, with the last one reported on March 25.

 

Out of Sri Lanka's total population of around 22 million, 70 percent are Buddhist, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim and 7.6 percent Christian, according to the country's 2012 census.

 

In its 2018 report on Sri Lanka's human rights, the U.S. State Department noted that some Christian groups and churches reported they had been pressured to end worship meetings after authorities classified them as "unauthorized gatherings".

 

The report also said Buddhist monks regularly tried to close down Christian and Muslim places of worship, citing unidentified sources.

 

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, told local TV that the public should remain calm and asked authorities to bring those responsible for the attacks before the law. He also requested the public donate blood for the injured.

 

Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam announced that all schools would be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

 

Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Day after his death on the cross.

 

(Edited by Martin Howell and Nick Macfie)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-04-21

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, toenail said:

Sri Lanka is one of my favorite tourist destination. The Buddhist and Muslim people are so polite and passive. We need to remember these bombings do not represent the Sri Lankan people . This savage action was conspired by a few misfits of society. I bet these rejects of human society are not from Sri Lanka.  

I agree

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Horrible. My Kid just booked a trip there too. I guess she wants to add terrosim risks to earthquakes in her portfolio of travel dangers

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Christian attacks. This is a real image. Now up to 8 churches and hotels. 

 

D4qX_AaWAAAB0JP.jpg:large

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Quote

 

Sri Lanka explosions: More than 200 killed as churches and hotels targeted

 

At least 207 people have been killed and 400 hurt in explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, police say.

 

At least eight blasts were reported. Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services.

 

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and a fourth hotel, all in Colombo, were also hit.

 

Read more here:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48001720

 


 

 

In that article it said this:  "No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks but the defence minister said they were probably carried out by one group."

 

 

Until it is officially revealed as to who that one group was that carried out these attacks, let's keep the speculative speculations to a minimum. 

 

Thanks.

 

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