The explosions blew out the tiled roofs of churches and hotel windows, killing Sunday worshipers and hotel guests in the process. Images and footage showed bloodied pews, broken glass, and plumes of smoke.
New Delhi, India, April 22, 2019 —
This Easter Sunday, a series of suicide bombings hit hotels and churches across Sri Lanka, leaving the whole country in a state of lock-down on an otherwise happy occasion. At least 215 people have been killed and over 450 severely wounded in the series of suicide blasts that hit the country.
The explosions blew out the tiled roofs of churches and hotel windows, killing Sunday worshipers and hotel guests in the process. Images and footage seen by CNN showed bloodied pews, broken glass, and plumes of smoke.
Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo, spoke to CNN from St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the locations targeted.
He said that the blast took place after Easter Mass, and there were about 30 bodies lying in the area of the church.
Priests Injured By Flying Glass And Debris
Tillekeratne said three priests had been celebrating the mass at the time of the blast. Two of them were badly injured by flying glass and debris, and one was only lightly injured because he was behind the altar.
He estimated that more than a thousand people had come to the church for Easter Sunday “because it is a special day.” Many came from villages, he added.
He described the ground as covered in rubble and shattered glass. “You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside of the church,” he added.
Immediate Curfew Was Imposed Till Further Orders
Police in Sri Lanka imposed an island-wide curfew starting Sunday at 6 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET Sunday) until the morning.
The country’s authorities convened an emergency meeting involving the heads of the army, air force and navy, according to Sri Lanka’s economic reforms minister, Harsha de Silva.
He said on Twitter that all emergency steps had been taken and that the group would issue a statement on the blasts.
Three police officers were killed during a house raid in Mahawila Gardens – the site of the eight explosions.
“The Colombo crime division… went to a house at [Mahawila Gardens] in Dematagoda, in relation to information received with regard to these hotels explosions,” Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara, said at a press conference.
Two Explosions Occurred While Crime Division Was Questioning
“When crime division officials started questioning the people in the house, two explosions occurred, One sub inspector and two constables of police have been killed and one constable was taken to the national hospital with wounds,” he added.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the blasts on Twitter, calling on Sri Lankans 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
(Source: CNN; Photo Credits: AP)