Just as Sri Lanka’s minority Christian population gathered to celebrate Easter at churches across the nation on Sunday morning, six nearly simultaneous explosions ripped through three churches and three high-end hotels packed with tourists.
Local police have said they believe at least two of the church blasts were carried out by suicide bombers in a highly coordinated attack, leaving over 200 people dead and multiple hundreds more injured, including more than 27 foreigners, according to the AP.
The first bombing targeted St. Anthony’s Shrine in the country’s capital of Colombo, while the second hit St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo.
The churches, which also included a third in Batticaloa, were targeted as worshippers gathered for Easter service at 8:45am local time. A seventh blast was reported near the national zoo in Colombo after the first six, and CNN reports there may have been up to eight bomb sites.
Three luxury hotels in Colombo were also targeted, identified in international reports as the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury.
There appears to have also been a possible shootout between suspected attackers and police as at least one Sri Lankan officer was reported to have died while raiding a location believed to house some of the terror attack plotters.
Map of the locations of the attacks in #SriLanka #Easter in which more than 100 murdered, we can see the important hotels struck all in a line in the central areas, churches were struck also north and east of the city, one on east coast. pic.twitter.com/OnZL9HBmBd
— Seth Frantzman (@sfrantzman) April 21, 2019
The country’s defense minister announced later in the day that seven suspects linked to the blasts have been arrested.
Meanwhile the prime minister condemned the attacks as “cowardly” and a nationwide curfew has been imposed.
Eyewitnesses reported the ground shaking in the vicinity of some of the blasts, with other reports citing witnesses who saw severed body parts outside one of the luxury hotels hit.
No group has yet to claim responsibility for the deadly Easter morning attack, though Sri Lankan Christians as a sizable minority at about 8% have reported at uptick of persecution and threats coming from Muslims and majority Buddhist population.
Several explosions have rocked churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killing at least 156 people on #EasterSunday
Here’s what we know so far: pic.twitter.com/3BlnQLyxBE
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 21, 2019
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Sri Lanka, at about 70% of the population. The vast majority of Sri Lanka’s Christians are Roman Catholic.
— Kavinthan s (@Kavinthans) April 21, 2019
President Trump has offered US assistance in the wake of the Easter terror attacks now gripping world headlines.
138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more that 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2019
The Easter Sunday attacks are the worst single day violence the country has seen since its civil war ended a decade ago. Via Bloomberg:
Sri Lanka’s ability to attract direct foreign investments is expected to diminish following the attacks on Sunday, according to Raffaele Bertoni, head of debt-capital markets at Gulf Investment Corp. in Kuwait City. This morning’s events along with rising political tensions and lower economic activity will have an impact on assets starting with the rupee. He sees the rupee weakening to 180 per dollar.
This after the Rupee closed at 174.11 a dollar on Thursday.
Watch Alex Jones live breakdown of Sri Lanka Easter Bombing:
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