Eighth blast reported in Sri Lanka, toll reaches 160
Hours after near-simultaneous explosions devastated three churches and three high-end hotels in Sri Lanka, two other blasts were reported in the country. The seventh blast reportedly took place in Dehiwala region and eighth in Colombo, the country's capital. The death toll in the dastardly attack on Easter reached 160 and nearly 400 were injured. The deceased included 35 foreigners. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.
The explosions were reported around 8:45 AM (Local time). The churches which were attacked were St. Anthony's Church in Kochchikade of the capital Colombo, the St.Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya of Negombo and another one in Batticaloa. Blasts also ripped apart the Shangri-La, Kingsbury, and Cinnamon Grand hotels. An eye witness said the intensity of the blasts shook buildings in the area.
Notably, police chief Pujuth Jayasundara had sent an intelligence warning to top officials on April 11 to warn them of a probable attack. "A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," the alert read. NTJ is a radical Islamic group.
After the blasts, curfew was imposed across the nation. Sri Lankan Airlines appealed to passengers flying out of Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport to arrive four hours before the departure time. According to Sri Lanka's economic reforms minister, Harsha de Silva, an emergency meeting involving heads of the Army, Air Force, and Navy was convened. Citizens have been advised to not overcrowd hospitals.
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attack in a tweet and asked people to stay united. "I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation," he tweeted. President Maithripala Sirisena said, "I have given instructions to take very stern action against the persons who are responsible for this conspiracy".
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also spoke against the attack. PM Modi said there was no place for such barbarism in the region. The Indian High Commission released helpline numbers and assured that they were closely monitoring the situation. The helpline numbers are as follows: +94777903082, +94112422788, +94112422789, +94777902082, +94772234176.