Six blasts hit three churches and three grand hotels in Colombo. The churches are Zion Church in Batticaloa, St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade and St Sebastian inNegombo. Card Malcom Ranjith calls for blood donations and doctors to return to work in hospitals.
Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 150 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded as a result of six explosions this morning, Easter Sunday, in a number of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. The churches affected in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa, where the faithful were gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Upon hearing of the news, Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, expressed his "condolences for the victims" and urged people to pray for the country.
As the island mourns the Christian victims, hospitals have launched a blood drive. Even Card Ranjith, at a press conference, called on people to donate blood, and urged doctors who are off for the holiday, to return to work to "save at least one life". At the same time, he tried to console the country's Christians, and asked Sri Lankans to remain calm.
Sri Lankan President Mathripala Sirisena condemned the attacks, urging his fellow citizens to help the police in its investigation.
According to provisional reports, so far 27 were killed at the Zion Church of Batticaloa, 160 were wounded at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade and another 50 died at the St Sebastian Church in Negombo.
In the capital, major hotels were hit, namely the Kingsbury, the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon, all crowded with tourists.
A minister who went to St Anthony's Church describes "horrible scenes" with "pieces of bodies scattered everywhere".
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. In the predominantly Buddist nation, Islamic terrorism is not a major issue, although some fear that foreign fighters back from the Middle East might be behind the attacks.
Some acts of intolerance towards the Christian community were reported during Holy Week, which made people fear the worst for Easter. The most glaring case was the kidnapping of a bishop who was held hostage in a Methodist church along with the faithful.