Sri Lanka imposes curfew after deadly blasts
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka´s government imposed a nationwide curfew Sunday that police said would go into effect immediately and would last “until further notice”, after a string of deadly blasts.
Sri Lanka´s defence ministry initially said the curfew would be imposed overnight, but the police subsequently said it would go into effect straight away.
85 dead, more than 500 injured in attacks on Sri Lankan churches, hotels
Earlier today, Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels killed at least 185 people and wounded more than 500, hospital and police officials said, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
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.
Sri Lankan PM calls NSC meeting
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council (NSC) 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.
Education Minister announces all schools to be closed for two days
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.
Pakistan denounces terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka
Pakistan has denounced explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that claimed more than 100 lives on the occasion of Easter Sunday.
Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal condemned the terrorist attack in his Twitter post, and said the people and government of Pakistan stand by Sri Lanka at this moment of tragedy.
“Pakistan condemns explosions and terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka at Churches & Hotels, that have led to numerous casualties and immense loss. People and Government of Pakistan stand by people and Government of Sri Lanka at this moment of tragedy and against terror @MFA_SriLanka,” FO spokesperson tweeted.