BIG BREAKING: Eighth Blast Hits Sri Lankan Capital, Curfew Declared

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Colombo: Eighth blast hits Sri Lankan capital: police, reports news agency AFP. Sri Lankan government declares curfew with immediate effect, for indefinite period. Unclear on when it will be lifted. (Reuters)

Seven near simultaneous explosions rocked three churches and three hotels frequented by tourists in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday morning, killing at least 160 people and injuring over 400 others, in one of the deadliest blasts in the island nation’s history, officials said

The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury. Foreigners and locals who were injured in hotel blasts were admitted to the Colombo General Hospital. Hospital sources said that 129 have been killed so far in the blasts.

“42 people died in Colombo, 60 in Negombo and 27 in Batticaloa,” they said. The Colombo National Hospital spokesperson, Dr Samindi Samarakoon, said more than 300 people have been admitted with injuries. The blast left 73 injured in Batticaloa, officials said.

“Many casualties including foreigners,” said Harsha de Silva, the Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution. No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks.

However, most of the deadly attacks in the past in Sri Lanka were carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran

President Maithripala Sirisena has appealed for calm. “I have been shocked by this totally unexpected incidents. The security forces haven been asked to take all action necessary,” Sirisena said. The Sri Lankan government has summoned an emergency meeting called. All necessary emergency steps have been taken by the government, a minister said, adding that an official statement will be issued soon

“Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Emergency crews are at all locations in full force. We, at 1990 also have close to 20 units at the various locations. We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives,” Harsha de Silva said

The Indian High Commission in Colombo said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka

“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,” the High Commission tweeted “In addition to the numbers given, Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and for seeking clarification may also call the following numbers +94777902082 +94772234176,” it said.