A string of blasts hit high-end hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday, injuring hundreds of people as worshippers attended Easter services.
The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.
At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official told AFP.
“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,” read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.
Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticalao, in the east of the country.
An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.
Sri Lanka bombings: Latest news and death toll
Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast. The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.
Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries. The images could not immediately be verified.
BREAKING: Sri Lankan police warned of church bombings last week.
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What we know so far
Only around 6% of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.
The death toll has risen to 137, including nine foreigners, a police official told AFP. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least 45 people had been killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit.
Another 67 were killed in an attack on a church in Negombo north of the capital, with another 25 dead at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the blasts as “cowardly”. He said in a Tweet from his verified account that the government was working to “contain the situation.”
“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. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”