COLOMBO: At least 207 people were killed and hundreds injured in Sri Lanka when a string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services.
The powerful blasts — six in quick succession and then two more hours later — wrought devastation, including at the capital’s well-known St Anthony’s Shrine, a historic Catholic Church.
At least 500 were reported to be wounded in the attacks, including four Pakistani nationals.
Hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens were among the dead overall, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man also died, the country’s LUSA news agency reported.
An AFP photographer at the scene at St Anthony’s saw bodies lying on the floor, some draped with scarves and clothes.
Much of the church roof was blown out in the explosion, with roof tiles, glass and splintered wood littering the floor along with pools of blood.
The injured flooded into local hospitals, where officials reported hundreds of wounded were being admitted.
The nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
President Maithripala Sirisena in an address said he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, writing on his verified Twitter account, said the attacks had killed “many innocent people” and appeared to be a “well-coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem & anarchy.”
The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.