Terror strikes Sri Lanka on Easter Day: 138 killed as churches, hotels hit

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Colombo: Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels killed 138 people and wounded more than 400, hospital and police ofcials said, following a lull in major attacks since
the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
 
In just one church, St. Sebastian's in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed, a police ofcial 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 a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province. The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel and Cinnamon Grand Colombo. It was unclear whether there were any casualties in the hotels. Nine foreigners were among the dead, the ofcials 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 Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home for later in the day.
 
One of the explosions was at St Anthony's Church in Kochcikade, Colombo. "Our people are engaged in evacuating the casualties," a source with the bomb squad said. St. Sebastian's church posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the oor, and requested help from the public.
 
Last year, there were 86 veried incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents more than 200 churches and other Christian organisations.
 
This year, the NCEASL recorded 26 such incidents, including one in which Buddhist monks allegedly attempted to disrupt a Sunday worship service, with the last one reported on March 25. Out of Sri Lanka's total population of around 22 million, 70 percent are Buddhist, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim, and 7.6 percent Christian, according to the country's 2012 census.
 
In its 2018 report on Sri Lanka's human rights, the US State Department noted that some Christian groups and churches reported they had been pressured to end worship activities after authorities classied them as "unauthorized gatherings.
 
Helpline numbers
India on Sunday said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka. "Colombo - I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation. @IndiainSL," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
 
"Explosions have been reported in Colombo and Batticaloa today. We are closely monitoring the situation. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarication may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789," the Indian High Commission in Colombo tweeted.
 
"In addition to the numbers given, Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarication may also call the following numbers +94777902082 +94772234176," the high commission tweeted.

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