In a series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing at least 207 people, including dozens of foreigners. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attacks -- the worst act of violence since the end of Sri Lanka's civil war a decade ago -- as "cowardly", as the government imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the entire country of 21 million people. Over 450 people have been injured in the attacks.
The powerful blasts -- six in quick succession and then two more hours later -- left hundreds injured and wrought devastation, including at the capital's well-known St Anthony's Shrine, a historic Catholic Church.
At least two of the explosions were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police sources and a hotel official, and police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the authorities were investigating whether suicide attackers were involved in all eight of them.
Thirteen people have been arrested in connection to the deadly attacks, the defence minister of Sri Lanka said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack on the hotels and churches on Easter and said such "barbarism has no place in the region". "Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured," PM Modi tweeted.
Here are the updates on Sri Lanka bomb blasts:
Sri Lanka's police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday's bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches", according to the warning seen by AFP
"We can confirm that British nationals were among those killed in today's horrific attacks in Sri Lanka," a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman told AFP.
Ms Radikaa tweeted that she was staying at the Cinnamon Grand, located near the official residence of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister.
"The Secretary General reiterates the support and solidarity of the United Nations with the people and the Government of Sri Lanka in this difficult moment for the nation", Mr Guterres's Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
"He commends the leadership demonstrated by the authorities and unity of the people of Sri Lanka in the wake of the attacks."
Dujarric said: "The Secretary-General is outraged by the terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a sacred day for Christians around the world. He recalls the sanctity of all places of worship. He hopes the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice."
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said "so far the names that have come up are local," but that investigators would look into whether the attackers had any "overseas links".
Noting that Tamils too have been largely affected by the blasts in Sri Lanka, he said: "Justice should expeditiously be rendered to Tamils, other communities and foreigners affected by the blasts in Sri Lanka."
MK Stalin demanded firm and fair steps from the Lankan government over the blasts that tantamount to allegedly intimidating the Tamils more and aimed at creating a ''permanent fear'' in the minds of religious minorities.
He sought identification of forces behind the explosions and punishment for them.
I conveyed to the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka that India is ready to provide all humanitarian assistance. In case required, we are ready to despatch our medical teams as well.- Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 21, 2019
"Indian High Commission in Colombo has conveyed that National Hospital has informed them about the death of three Indian nationals. Their names are Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. We are ascertaining further details," Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
The embassy is verifying the number of Chinese injured in the attacks.
There is further update from Colombo. In all eight bomb blasts have taken place - one more in a guest house in Dehiwela near Colombo and another in a housing colony in Dematagoda in Colombo./1- Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 21, 2019
A Sri Lankan foreign ministry official said there were 27 bodies of suspected foreign nationals, while the police said at least 35 of the dead were foreigners.
Hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens were among those killed, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man also died, according to the Iberian nation's LUSA news agency. Two Chinese nationals were injured, the country's embassy in Sri Lanka said, according to Beijing's official Xinhua news agency.
We strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. India stands united with the people of Sri Lanka in this collective fight against terrorism.- Chowkidar Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) April 21, 2019
My heart goes out to the families who have lost their dear ones.
A Kerala woman holidaying in Colombo was among those killed in the bombings authorities said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed condolences over the death of 58-year-old P.S. Razeena, who arrived in the Sri Lankan capital along with her husband to meet their relatives engaged in business in Colombo.
Razeena and her husband, who are from Kasargode in Kerala, live in Dubai and were staying at one of the three hotels in Colombo targeted on Sunday by suicide bombers.
A spokesperson for the state agency of the Kerala diaspora told the media that they were talking to the Indian High Commissioner's office in Colombo to see that Razeena's body was brought to Kerala.
Sri Lanka's most senior Catholic figure called Sunday on the government to find the attackers behind deadly blasts that killed more than 160 people and "punish them mercilessly".
"I would also like to ask the government to hold a very impartial strong inquiry and find out who is responsible behind this act and also to punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that," Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, told reporters.
Cardinal Ranjith expressed his "deepest sorrow and sympathy" for those affected by the attacks and urged national unity.
"I ask all our Sri Lankan people not to take the law into their own hands and to maintain peace and harmony in this country," he said.
138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more that 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2019
"It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people," he tweeted
"I condemn in the strongest terms possible the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka. This is an assault on all of humanity," he tweeted
"Blasts in Sri Lanka as people are praying... This hate... These ugly acts of majoritarianism will consume us. Humanity one day... dear citizens this is why we need to be aware and be careful and condemn all the bigots who are sowing hatred. And dividing us in our society today," he tweeted.
In view of the situation in Sri Lanka, Air India has waived off all charges for rescheduling/cancellation of bookings on its flights to/from Colombo for travel till April 24, 2019. Passengers are requested to report well in advance to clear security at Bandaranaike International Airport.
I'm saddened & disturbed by reports of multiple bomb blasts in #Colombo in which over 100 people have died & more than 300 injured.- Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 21, 2019
I strongly condemn this diabolical act of terrorism.
My condolences to the families of the victims. I pray the injured make a speedy recovery.
"Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels," he tweeted. "We stand ready to help!"
The US leader erroneously wrote that "138 million people" were killed in the attacks. He deleted the tweet soon after.
The attacks on high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services killed nearly 160 people including dozens of foreigners.
"Terribly saddened by terrorist attacks on Sri Lankan worshippers during Easter. Condolences to friendly govt & people of Sri Lanka. Our thoughts & prayers with the victims & their families," Zarif said on Twitter.
"Terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally," he added.
The eighth blast, in a house in a northern suburb of the capital Colombo, was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives when police entered the residence to search it, a police source told AFP.
The explosion brought down the upper level of the house and killed three police officers, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And a hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand hotel, one of three in the capital that were hit by explosions, said a suicide bomber blew himself up at people at the facility's restaurant.
"He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast," he told AFP.
The nature of the other blasts has not yet been confirmed, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly attacks -- the worst act of violence in Sri Lanka since the end of the country's bloody civil war a decade ago.
Sri Lanka, my heart is with you. I'm praying for everyone affected by this horrible tragedy. Stay strong ❤️- Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) April 21, 2019
Latest reports say 150 people killed in SriLanka in terrorist attacks on Churches, Hotels. While none has admitted to this, it was a well coordinated attack at Easter. When Churches were full. Terrorism remains our number 1 global enemy. No one, nowhere is safe #SriLankaBlasts- Shekhar Kapur (@shekharkapur) April 21, 2019
"It is shocking that people who gathered to celebrate Easter together were consciously targeted in this malicious attack," Merkel said in a condolence telegram published by a spokeswoman on Twitter.
Violence can never be the final solution to human disagreements. Ironic that the island that spawned the word serendipity is not able to find it. My deepest sympathies to those affected by the bombs in Sri Lanka. The government should be impartial and swift in rendering Justice.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had telephone conversations with the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and conveyed heart-felt condolences on his own behalf and on behalf of all Indians at the loss of over one hundred and fifty innocent lives in today's terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Modi condemned in the strongest terms the serial terrorist attacks, perpetrated at sites including religious places and during a religious festival. Terming them as cold-blooded and pre-planned barbaric acts, he pointed out that these attacks were another grim reminder of the most serious challenge posed to the entire humanity by terrorism in our region and the entire world.
The Prime Minister renewed the offer of all possible help and assistance to Sri Lanka for ensuring its security against the challenges such as those posed by terrorism.
He also wished the injured speedy recovery and offered any required assistance for their treatment.
Extremely sad at the news of bombings in Sri Lanka. It's unfortunate that one is not able to see that violence is like a chain reaction. This has to stop !- Jacqueline Fernandez (@Asli_Jacqueline) April 21, 2019
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suicide bomber detonated his explosives when police entered a house in a northern suburb of the capital Colombo to carry out a search.
The upper floor of the house collapsed in the blast, killing the police officers. The blast was the latest in a string targeting mostly hotels and churches that have killed around 160 people in a single day.
"We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation," the statement said.
"We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds."
"New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.
"New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence."
"To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support -- and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need," he said in a statement.
"At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack."
"Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives."
The UK FCO, in the advisory, said that since Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in October last year, the island nation has witnessed several political demonstrations, which are likely to continue and may happen at short notice.
The FCO told its people to be "aware of the risk of sexual assault, spiked drinks, road accidents, drowning due to dangerous tides and credit card fraud."
"Sri Lanka can be affected by severe weather such as like tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. A general alert has been issued by the Centre for Disaster Management over the onset of the South Western Monsoon," the statement read.
The FCO further urged its people to take extra precaution against frequent terror attacks in the country.
"Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka can't be ruled out," the statement added.
The FCO also told its people that "if you''re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission."
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks, the statement said.
In a joint statement, the two leaders said: "We condemn the attack on the churches where large number of Tamil Christians live."
They said the attack in a place where innocent people had congregated to pray to God was shocking.
PMK founder S. Ramadoss also expressed his shock.
Extremely sad news from Sri Lanka on Easter. Enemies of humanity cannot be allowed to succeed in any part of the world and acts of terror should be condemned in strongest terms- Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 21, 2019
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the serial blasts in Sri Lanka. Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief," he tweeted.
Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.- Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 21, 2019
India condemns the terror attacks in Sri Lanka and offers its condolences to the people and government of the country. Such senseless violence, aimed at innocent people, has no place in civilised society. We stand in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka #PresidentKovind- President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) April 21, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the blasts in Sri Lanka. "Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured," he tweeted.
Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.- Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 21, 2019
Saddened and shocked at the disturbing news coming in from Sri Lanka. All forms of violence are unacceptable. Easter is a Festival of Peace. My thoughts and prayers with the grieving families- Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 21, 2019
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attacks in a tweet and asked people to "remain united and strong".
I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.- Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) April 21, 2019
Easter Sunday bomb blasts in churches & hotels, killing many innocent people seems to be a well coordinated attempt to create murder,mayhem & anarchy.All those who cherish democracy,freedom & economic prosperity must unite now with nerves of steel to defeat this heinous attempt.- Mangala Samaraweera (@MangalaLK) April 21, 2019
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena in an address after the serial blasts said he was shocked by the explosions. He has appealed for calm, news agency AFP reported.
Explosions have been reported in Colombo and Batticaloa today. We are closely monitoring the situation. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789- India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) April 21, 2019
In addition to the numbers given below, Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may also call the following numbers +94777902082 +94772234176- India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) April 21, 2019
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted this morning that she is in constant touch with High Commissioner in Colombo after reports of blasts in Sri Lanka broke out.
Colombo - I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation. @IndiainSL- Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 21, 2019