AUTHORITIES in Sri Lanka have launched a massive security operation and imposed a curfew after a wave of bombs in churches and hotels in Sri Lankakilledmore than 150 people and injured hundreds. The eight blasts, some of which officials said were suicide bomb attacks, appeared timed to cause maximum casualties among worshippers attending Easter services.
In one church, St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, north of the capital, Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed, a police official said. Much of the church roof was blown out in the explosion, with roof tiles and splintered wood littering the floor and pools of blood in between wounded worshippers.
In total, three churches and four hotels were targeted. The other explosion was in a house in Colombo, authorities said. Most of the targets were either in or close to the capital. Among the four hotels targeted was the Cinnamon Grand, a luxury hotel in the centre of the city that is favoured by top politicians.
The attacks are the most significant in the small island nation for many years and come a decade after the end of a bloody civil war. Security officials told the Guardian the situation was “live” shortly after two blasts were reported in Colombo three hours after the first attacks were reported.
One explosion occurred at a hotel near the national zoo, when attackers were reportedly cornered by security forces. Authorities have imposed a curfew, though it was unclear if the ban on movement would start immediately or was overnight.
Hospitals were struggling to cope with the influx of casualties. At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National hospital alone by mid-morning, one official said. The main hospital in the eastern port city of Batticaloa had received more than 300 people with injuries following the blast at the Zion church.