Sri Lanka explosions: 50 killed as churches and hotels targeted

 

(BBC): At least 50 people are reported to have been killed and more than 200 injured in explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

At least six explosions have been reported. Three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa were targeted during Easter services.

The Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels, all in Colombo, were also hit.

Easter Sunday is one of the major feasts in the Christian calendar.

Images on social media showed the inside of one of the churches – St Sebastian’s in Negombo – with a shattered ceiling and blood on the pews.

Sri Lankan media report that foreign tourists may be among the casualties.

Some media outlets have also put the death toll higher and a hospital source in Batticaloa told the BBC the death toll there alone could be 27.

And Reuters quoted a police source as saying more than 50 died in Negombo alone.

A hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand, near the prime minister’s official residence, told Agence France-Presse the explosion there had ripped through a restaurant, killing at least one person.

President Maithripala Sirisena has issued a statement calling for people to remain calm and support the authorities in their investigations.

No-one has yet said they were responsible for the attacks.

There have been fears that returning fighters from the Islamic State group could pose a threat in the country.

There has been some sporadic violence in Sri Lanka, with members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacking mosques and Muslim-owned properties.

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