At least 132 dead, hundreds injured as explosions rock churches, hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka

(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena) ri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019.

At least 132 people were killed and hundreds more injured as several churches and hotels were rocked by simultaneous explosions on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.

Eight explosions took place, including in three Christian churches and three hotels, some commonly used by foreign visitors. In addition to those who were killed another 500 were wounded, according to officials with police, the Colombo Hospital and St. Sebastian Church. The Associated Press has reported 138 people were killed in the blasts.

There were at least nine foreigners among the dead in Colombo, according to the officials.

One of the churches struck by the attack was St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, which is located about an hour north of the country’s capital of Colombo. The church posted photos of the attack on its Facebook page and pleaded for relatives to “come and help if your family members are there.”

St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Catholic church in Colombo, and Zion Church, in Batticaloa, were also attacked. Colombo, the country’s capital is located on the western side of the island nation, while Batticaloa is on the eastern shore.

Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel, all located in Colombo, were targeted in the bombings. All are popular with foreigners.

Officials who spoke to ABC News were able to confirm at least 24 people were killed at St. Anthony’s Church, 27 died at Batticaloa’s Zion Church and 81 have died at St. Sebastian Church. There were about 500 people at the Easter Mass at St. Sebastian when when the explosion took place, according to officials from the church.

Buddhism is the most common religion in Sri Lanka. National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri-Lanka documented the growing number of attacks on Christians in 2018, saying there were 67 from January to September.
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Parliamentary member Harsha de Silva said foreigners were among the dead or injured, but did not provide further details.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Sri Lanka has been at times one of the most dangerous locations in the world for terrorist attacks. A civil war that raged for decades between the ruling government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — known colloquially as the Tamil Tigers or LTTE — officially ended in 2009, but some conflict has continued. As many as 100,000 people were killed in the civil war from 1982 to 2009, according to the U.N.

The U.K. government warns travelers of the risks posed by those visiting the country.

“Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka can’t be ruled out,” the government advises on its website. “Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.”

The U.S. lists Sri Lanka as a Level 1 country, the lowest travel warning.

The country was also divided by a constitutional crisis at the end of 2018 when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was removed by the country’s president in October, only to later be reinstated in December.

Source: ABC

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