A series of coordinated explosions have rocked churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killing more than 150 people on Easter Day in the South Asian island nation.
More than 400 people have been injured in the worst attack since the end of civil war 10 years ago.
At least 75 worshippers died in attacks on St Sebastian’s Catholic church in Katuwapitiya, north of the capital Colombo, and an evangelical church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province, Reuters reported.
The blasts targeted four hotels, including the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand in Colombo.
At least 35 foreigners were among the dead, the officials said.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country, which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.
Here are the latest updates as of Sunday, April 21:
Chinese national killed in attacks
One Chinese national was killed during the attacks on Sri Lankan churches and hotels on Sunday, Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily said.
Earlier, state news agency Xinhua said four Chinese nationals were injured, but were in a stable condition in hospital.
The defense minister says seven suspects linked to the blasts have been arrested as security was stepped up at Sri Lanka’s international airport.
Emergency meeting called
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened Sri Lanka’s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following the blasts. He has also called for an emergency convening of the nation’s parliament on Monday.
— 🇱🇰 Jai Raymond (@JaiTRaymond) April 21, 2019
Death toll expected to go up
Dr Anil Jasinghe, the health ministry’s director-general of health services, told Al Jazeera that 185 people have died in the attacks that targeted different parts the country. The government has yet to confirm the new death toll.
Sri Lanka imposes ‘temporary’ social media ban
Sri Lanka’s government said on Sunday it would impose a “temporary” social media ban in the wake of the blasts.
Social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, have been blocked.
“The government has decided to block all social media platforms in order to prevent incorrect and wrong information being spread. This is only a temporary measure” Udaya R. Seneviratne, secretary to the president said in a statement.
#Srilanka: SL Muslim council condemns Sunday’s deadly attacks targeting churches, hotels in & around Colombo, & Batticaloa. Over 100 persons killed, several hundred injured. No verified information/official word yet on those behind attacks#lka via @the_hindu #SrilankaBlasts pic.twitter.com/IOPo63Uh4r
— Meera Srinivasan (@Meerasrini) April 21, 2019
Nationwide curfew imposed
Sri Lanka’s government imposed a nationwide curfew on Sunday that police said would go into effect immediately and would last “until further notice”, in the wake of coordinated attacks.
Overwhelming response at National Blood Centre. It’s so overcrowded they cannot control the crowd. Currently they are sending back people who have come after taking down name, contact and blood group. Don’t rush there now go leisurely as the crowd subsides #LKA pic.twitter.com/EAvYyr73kH
— Usman Ali 🇱🇰 (@usmanali_la) April 21, 2019
Sri Lanka’s defence ministry initially said the curfew would be imposed overnight, but the police subsequently said it would go into effect straight away.
Pope condemns Easter attacks
Pope Francis on Sunday condemned attacks that killed at least 156 people in three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka as “such cruel violence” and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter.
The blasts, which hospital and police officials said wounded more than 400 people.
Eighth Sri Lanka blast was suicide bomb: Police
The eighth blast in a string of explosions that hit Sri Lanka on Sunday was carried out by a suicide bomber and killed three police officers, a police source told AFP news agency.
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 at least 156 people in a single day.
Pictures of destruction
Sri Lanka – a popular tourist destination – is reeling from its worst attacks in a decade.
At least 75 people were killed in attacks on two churches – St Sebastian’s gothic-style Catholic church north of Colombo and evangelical church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof. Read more here
Sri Lankan PM condemns the attacks
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has condemned the attacks saying it is “an attempt to make the country and its economy unstable”.
“On behalf of the Government, I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the injured persons and the relations of the deceased consequent to the recent attacks occurred this morning,” the statement said.
“I condemn these attacks which targeted religious places and some hotels. We all should join hands to protect law and order. I have already instructed the Secretary / Defence, Tri Forces Commanders and the Inspector General of Police to take stringent action to ensure law and order in the country,” it said.