At least 207 people lost their lives, and 450 have been reported injured so far after series of eight explosions at churches and five-star hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, police say.
The targeted churches include St. Anthony’s Shrine in the capital city of Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and Zion Church in Batticaloa were all attacked, as well as the luxury hotels Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand, and The Kingsbury in Colombo.
The authorities already arrested seven people reportedly related to the attacks. In addition to that, the police also imposed a curfew with immediate effect from 18:00 to 06:00 local time, reported Reuters citing Sri Lanka’s junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene.
For security reasons, the government in Colombo also blocked temporarily access to leading social media networks to prevent the spread of inaccurate information and fake news, the Presidential Secretariat said in a statement. The social media blackout would continue as needed until the security forces finish their investigations into the attacks.
According to the initial government reports, suicide bombers carried out most of the blasts, underlying that the attacks appeared to be coordinated. Mangala Samaraweera, the Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka told The Guardian that the highly organized explosions aimed to bring anarchy and chaos in the country.
The deputy director of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr. Samiddhi Samarakoon, confirmed the death of 11 foreign nationals so far.
In his Easter Sunday address, Pope Francis condemned the bombings in Sri Lanka as ''cruel violence.'' Speaking from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in front of more than 7,000 people, Pope Francis also appealed for peace in conflict areas.
Many world leaders offered their condolences and vows of support. President Donald Trump expressed ''heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka'' and offered help.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi also used Twitter to express solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and to point out that there was '''no place for such barbarism in our region.''
The island state of Sri Lanka has started to recover from a brutal civil war between the Tamil militants and the government forces from 1983 to 2009. The majority of the local population is Sinhalese. The Tamils minority consists of Hindu people while the Sinhalese are mainly Buddhist. However, both ethnic groups have significant communities of Christians too.
Do you think that the local government could have prevented the bombings?