New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said India is keeping a close watch on the situation in Sri Lanka closely after at least 160 people were killed and nearly 300 were injured in multiple blasts in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.
“I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation,” Ms Swaraj tweeted.
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
A string of blasts hit three high-end hotels and three churches in and around Colombo as people attended Easter Sunday mass this morning. The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and then at St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital. Another church was targeted in Batticaloa. The blasts occurred at around 8.45 am (local time).
Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand Hotel, which is close to Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official residence.
Mr Wickremesinghe condemned the “cowardly attack” in a tweet and urged people to “unite with the nerves of steel”. “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 (sic),” he said.
India’s High Commission in Sri Lanka has shared helpline numbers on Twitter.
“Explosions have been reported in Colombo and Batticaloa today. We are closely monitoring the situation. Indian citizens in need of assistance or help and or seeking clarification may call the following numbers : +94777903082 +94112422788 +94112422789. (sic),” it tweeted.
“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,” the High Commission Of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, said in another tweet.
The nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.