Easter Sunday : Explosions kill at least 140 in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan security personnel walk through debris following an explosion in St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of the capital Colombo, on April 21, 2019. –
A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing nearly 160 people, including dozens of foreigners. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
At least 140 people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka’s capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago.
With a curfew imposed, police conducted a search operation on the outskirts of Colombo, where the latest of eight blasts took place. After police moved into Dematagoda, at least two more blasts occurred, with the occupants of a safehouse apparently blasting explosives to prevent arrest.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena described the attacks as a terrorist incident, and blamed religious extremists. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the violence could trigger instability in the country and its economy.
Since the end of the country’s 26-year civil war, in which the Tamil Tigers, a rebel insurgency from the ethnic Tamil minority, sought independence from ethnic Sinhala Buddhist majority Sri Lanka, there has been sporadic ethnic and religious violence.
But the scale of Sunday’s bloodshed recalled the worst days of the war, when Tigers and other rebels set off explosions at Sri Lanka’s Central Bank in downtown Colombo, at a busy shopping mall, an important Buddhist temple and tourist hotels.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s blasts.
Wickremesinghe said his government would “vest all necessary powers with the defense forces” to take action against those responsible for the attacks, “regardless of their stature.”