A series of coordinated explosions has rocked churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killing more than 200 people on Easter Sunday in the South Asian island nation.
More than 400 people have been injured in the worst attack since the end of civil war 10 years ago.
At least 75 worshippers died in attacks on St Sebastian’s Catholic church in Katuwapitiya, north of the capital Colombo, and an evangelical church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province, Reuters reported.
The blasts targeted four hotels, including the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand in Colombo.
At least 35 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.
Here are the latest updates as of Sunday, April 21:
Police say 13 suspects arrested
Thirteen suspects have been arrested in connection with the attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people on Easter Sunday, a police spokesman said.
In a statement, Ruwan Gunasekara also said police have obtained a vehicle they suspect was used to transport the suspects into Colombo.
Police have also found a safe house used by the attackers, the statement added.
PM: ‘Information was there’ about possible attacks
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has acknowledged that “information was there” about possible attacks.
“While this goes on we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken,” he said.
Eight people have so far been arrested in connection with the deadly blasts, Wickremesinghe said.
“So far the names that have come up are local,” he said, adding that investigators would look into whether the attackers had any “overseas links”.
Read more here.
Muslim groups in Sri Lanka condemn attacks
Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka condemned the attacks on churches and hotels in the country on Easter Sunday that killed more than 200 people.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourns the loss of innocent people in the blasts by violent elements who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups.
|People light candles for the victims of Sri Lanka’s serial bomb blasts in Karachi, Pakistan [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]|
The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama, a body of Muslim scholars, said targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted.
Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 23 million.
— Colombo Gazette (@colombogazette) April 21, 2019
Nationalities of 11 foreigners killed verified
The nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said.
They include three Indians, one Portuguese national, two Turkish nationals, three British nationals and two holding US and British nationalities.
Nine foreigners were reported missing, the statement added.
Families identify dead bodies
Family members of victims were given a chance to identify the bodies of their loved ones, as body bags were lined up outside the St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo late on Sunday.
“There were absolutely heart wrenching scenes,” said Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from the church. “Hundreds of people were wailing at the top of their voices as families who were looking for missing loved ones were allowed to look at the fatalities from this church.”
“Many of the people still do not where their loved ones are,” she added.
Sri Lanka Easter bombings: At least 207 killed, 402 injured
UK says citizens caught in bombings
The British high commissioner to Sri Lanka said the UK government understands that “some British citizens were caught in the blasts” but it is too soon to say how many might have been affected.
James Dauris urged Britons to get in touch with family members to let them know they are safe.
Two Turkish engineers killed in blasts
Two Turkish citizens were among those killed in bomb blasts at three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka, according to Turkey’s state media Anadolu.
The Turks were engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka, Anadolu reported.
Chinese national killed in attacks
One Chinese national was killed during the attacks on Sri Lankan churches and hotels on Sunday, Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily said.
Earlier, state news agency Xinhua said four Chinese nationals were injured, but were in a stable condition in hospital.
The defence minister says seven suspects linked to the blasts have been arrested as security was stepped up at Sri Lanka’s international airport.
Emergency meeting called
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened Sri Lanka’s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following the blasts. He has also called for an emergency convening of the nation’s parliament on Monday.
— 🇱🇰 Jai Raymond (@JaiTRaymond) April 21, 2019
Death toll expected to go up
Dr Anil Jasinghe, the health ministry’s director-general of health services, told Al Jazeera that 185 people have died in the attacks that targeted different parts the country. The government has yet to confirm the new death toll.
Sri Lanka imposes ‘temporary’ social media ban
Sri Lanka’s government said on Sunday it would impose a “temporary” social media ban in the wake of the blasts.
Social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, have been blocked.
“The government has decided to block all social media platforms in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread. This is only a temporary measure” Udaya R. Seneviratne, secretary to the president said in a statement.
#Srilanka: SL Muslim council condemns Sunday’s deadly attacks targeting churches, hotels in & around Colombo, & Batticaloa. Over 100 persons killed, several hundred injured. No verified information/official word yet on those behind attacks#lka via @the_hindu #SrilankaBlasts pic.twitter.com/IOPo63Uh4r
— Meera Srinivasan (@Meerasrini) April 21, 2019
Nationwide curfew imposed
Sri Lanka’s government imposed a nationwide curfew on Sunday that police said would go into effect immediately and would last “until further notice”, in the wake of coordinated attacks.
Overwhelming response at National Blood Centre. It’s so overcrowded they cannot control the crowd. Currently they are sending back people who have come after taking down name, contact and blood group. Don’t rush there now go leisurely as the crowd subsides #LKA pic.twitter.com/EAvYyr73kH
— Usman Ali 🇱🇰 (@usmanali_la) April 21, 2019
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.
Pope condemns Easter attacks
Pope Francis on Sunday condemned attacks that killed at least 156 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 wounded more than 400 people.
Eighth Sri Lanka blast was suicide bomb: Police
The eighth blast in a string of explosions that hit Sri Lanka on Sunday was carried out by a suicide bomber and killed three police officers, a police source told AFP news agency.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suicide bomber detonated his explosives when police entered a house in a northern suburb of the capital Colombo to carry out a search.
The upper floor of the house collapsed in the blast, killing the police officers. The blast was the latest in a string targeting mostly hotels and churches that have killed at least 156 people in a single day.
Pictures of destruction
Sri Lanka – a popular tourist destination – is reeling from its worst attacks in a decade.
At least 75 people were killed in attacks on two churches – St Sebastian’s gothic-style Catholic church north of Colombo and an evangelical church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof. Read more here.
Sri Lankan PM condemns the attacks
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has condemned the attacks saying it is “an attempt to make the country and its economy unstable”.
“On behalf of the Government, I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the injured persons and the relations of the deceased consequent to the recent attacks occurred this morning,” the statement said.
“I condemn these attacks which targeted religious places and some hotels. We all should join hands to protect law and order. I have already instructed the Secretary / Defence, Tri Forces Commanders and the Inspector General of Police to take stringent action to ensure law and order in the country,” it said.