Easter Sunday blasts kill at least 207 in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Latest on explosions in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (all times local):
10:10 p.m.
The secretary-general of the world’s largest organization of Muslim nations has condemned the attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people on Easter Sunday.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s chief Yousef al-Othaimeen described them as “cowardly attacks” that targeted innocent worshippers and civilians. Some 57 nations are part of the OIC, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jiddah.
Saudi Arabia also denounced the attacks in Sri Lanka and described them as “terrorist explosions,” saying the kingdom extends its condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Sri Lanka.
Earlier Sunday, other Arab Gulf nations issued similar statements condemning the attack.
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10 p.m.
New York City police have implemented tightened security measures in the wake of attacks in Sri Lanka that have killed more than 200 people — including some Americans.
Sgt. Brendan Ryan is a spokesman for the New York Police Department. He says authorities “will make periodic visits to all houses of worship, giving special attention to those with Easter services.”
Ryan said the teams deployed to houses of worship will include resources from the department’s critical response command and strategic response group, which focus on quick response to incidents such as terror attacks.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack that Sri Lankan officials have blamed on religious extremists.
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9:50 p.m.
The United States says that “several” American citizens have been killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka.
More than 200 people have died in a series of blasts against churches and hotels that the Sri Lankan government is blaming on religious extremists. And U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY’-oh) in a statement says that even as details of the attacks are still emerging, the U.S. government can confirm that Americans are among the casualties.
Pompeo says the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, the capital, is working to assist U.S. citizens and their families.
America’s top diplomat says “these vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism”
He says targeting “innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear.”
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8:30 p.m.
The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is condemning “this great evil” that targeted Easter Sunday worshippers and others with deadly blasts in Sri Lanka.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo in a statement offers prayers for the victims and says the attack cannot “overcome the hope” found in the holiday.
The near-simultaneous explosions at churches and hotels killed more than 200 people. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack that Sri Lankan officials have blamed on religious extremists.
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8:15 p.m.
Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka are condemning the attacks on churches and hotels in the country on Easter Sunday that killed more than 200 people.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka says it mourns the loss of innocent people in the blasts by extremists who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups.
The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama a body of Muslim clerics, says targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted.
Muslims make up about 10% of Sri Lanka’s population of 23 million.
No one has claimed responsibility for what Sri Lankan officials have described as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.
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8:05 p.m.
Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry says the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified.
They include three Indians, one Portuguese national, two Turkish nationals, three British nationals and two holding U.S. and British nationalities.
The statement also says nine foreigners are reported missing.
A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims.
The blasts that targeted hotels and churches killed more than 200 people.
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7:55 p.m.
The United Nations secretary-general says he is “outraged by the terrorist attacks” in Sri Lanka.
A statement by the spokesman for Antonio Guterres notes the “sanctity of all places of worship” and hopes the perpetrators will be quickly brought to justice.
He also commends the unity of the Sri Lankan people after the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people.
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7:05 p.m.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok says a Dutch national is among the dead after a series of blasts in Sri Lanka.
Blok in a Twitter posts gives no details and says he is “horrified by the terrible attacks.”
More than 200 people were killed in the Easter Sunday blasts that targeted churches and hotels popular with foreigners.
No one has claimed responsibility for what Sri Lankan officials have described as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.
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6:50 p.m.
The British high commissioner to Sri Lanka says the UK government understands that “some British citizens were caught in the blasts” but it is too soon to say how many might have been affected.
James Dauris is urging Britons to get in touch with family members to let them know they are safe.
The Easter Sunday blasts targeting churches and hotels popular with foreigners killed more than 200 people.
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6:45 p.m.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expressing “deep shock” over the deadly attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people.
Netanyahu issued a statement on Sunday saying that “Israel stands ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this difficult time.”
The prime minister says that “the entire world must unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism.”
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6:35 p.m.
Sri Lanka’s defense minister says most of the eight blasts that rocked the capital and surrounding areas are suspected suicide attacks.
Police say 207 people were killed and 450 wounded in Sunday’s explosions, whose targets included at least three churches and three luxury hotels.
No one has taken responsibility for the attacks, but officials say seven suspects have been arrested.
The attacks are the worst chaos Sri Lanka has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
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6:10 p.m.
Sri Lankan police say 207 people were killed and 450 wounded in a series of blasts in and around the country’s capital.
Six nearly simultaneous blasts went off Sunday morning in three churches where worshippers were celebrating Easter and in three luxury hotels frequented by foreign tourists.
Hours later, a blast at a guesthouse killed at least two people. After an eighth explosion near an overpass in the area of Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo, the capital, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara says three police officers were killed when they went to question suspects following a tip.
Two blasts went off shortly after the officers entered a house in Dematagoda.
Officials say seven suspects have been arrested.
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5:45 p.m.
Chinese state media report that a Chinese citizen has died in the Sri Lanka attacks.
Earlier, China’s embassy said four Chinese nationals were hospitalized and in stable condition. It is not clear if the deceased was among them.
And Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that one victim was a Portuguese citizen.
The ministry in a Twitter post offers condolences to the family.
The attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday killed at least 190 people.
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5:35 p.m.
SriLankan Airlines is telling passengers booked on flights out of the country that they will be able to fly despite the curfew imposed after deadly Easter Sunday attacks.
The carrier says in a statement that travelers on all airlines operating out of Bandaranaike International Airport can access the airport by showing their tickets and passports at checkpoints.
The airline says security has been tightened at the airport, and it advises passengers to arrive four hours before their scheduled flights.
Authorities have imposed a 12-hour overnight curfew beginning at 6 p.m. after a series of coordinated deadly blasts rocked the heavily touristed island nation.
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5:25 p.m.
Sri Lanka’s government has imposed a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. following a series of blasts in and around the capital that killed at least 190 people.
Shops were closed and streets were deserted in Colombo, the capital, ahead of the curfew Sunday.
At least three churches, three luxury hotels and a guesthouse were among the targets of the Easter Sunday attacks.
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5:25 p.m.
Chinese state media say one Chinese citizen has died in a series of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that killed at least 190 people.
The People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, said Sunday evening that one Chinese national has been confirmed dead.
Earlier, China’s embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, said four Chinese nationals were sent to the hospital and were in stable condition after the attacks. It is not clear if the deceased was among the four.
The Chinese Embassy issued a safety reminder to local Chinese-funded enterprises, overseas Chinese and visiting Chinese delegations.
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5:20 p.m.
Sri Lankan officials say the death toll in eight bomb blasts that struck in and just outside of the capital, Colombo, on Easter Sunday has climbed to 190, and that several suspects have been arrested.
The foreign minister says at least 27 foreigners were among those killed and that two police officers were killed during an operation to capture suspects from a safehouse in Dematagoda, the area outside Colombo where the eighth blast occurred.
At least three churches, three luxury hotels and a guesthouse were among the targets of the attacks.
The defense minister says seven suspects linked to the blasts have been arrested.
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4:45 p.m.
President Donald Trump is offering “heartfelt condolences” after the attacks in Sri Lanka but mistakenly says 138 million people have been killed.
The U.S. president in a Twitter post cited the “horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more.”
The death toll at the time of the tweet was at least 138 people.
Trump says America stands ready to help Sri Lanka cope.
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4:10 p.m.
Foreign tourists in Sri Lanka have hurriedly contacted loved ones around the world to say they were OK after attacks on churches and hotels killed over 130 people.
Tour operators warn that access to Facebook and Twitter would be cut by the government and that a curfew likely would be put into place.
Local tourism workers were shocked and dismayed by the attacks.
“After so many years we’ve started again,” said Gamini Francis, a longtime hotel worker. “A lot of people are going to lose their jobs. 100% sure. It’s tragic. Crazy people killing innocent people.”
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4 p.m.
Iran’s foreign minister says he is “terribly saddened” by the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that have killed at least 138 people.
Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally.”
Lebanon’s prime minister calls the attacks “blind terrorism” and offers solidarity to Sri Lanka’s people.
Saad Hariri in a tweet asks for mercy for the “innocent victims” and speedy recovery for the injured.
The series of blasts is the worst violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country’s bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
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3:55 p.m.
Pope Francis is denouncing the “cruel violence” of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka and is praying for all those who are suffering from the bloodshed.
Francis added an appeal at the end of his traditional Easter Sunday blessing to address the massacre which killed more than 130 people.
Speaking from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said: “I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence.”
He added: “I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event.”
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3:45 p.m.
A Sri Lankan military spokesman has confirmed two more explosions just outside the capital, hours after six nearly simultaneous blasts rocked churches and luxury hotels, killing at least 138 people.
The spokesman, Brig. Atapattu,ásays a seventh blast occurred at a guesthouse in Dehiwala, killing at least two people. Atapattu says an eighth blast occurred in Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo. He did not have details on the Dematagoda blast.
Earlier Sunday, a series of blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels killed at least 138 people.
It’s the worst bout of violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country’s bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
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3:45 p.m.
Sri Lanka’s defense minister has blamed religious extremists for what he called the “unfortunate terrorist incident” involving a series of blasts at churches celebrating Easter Sunday services and luxury hotels.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena told reporters that he believed police and military forces had identified the perpetrators of the blasts that killed at least 138 people and wounded hundreds more.
He said those “involved in this unfortunate terrorist incident will be taken into custody as soon as possible.”
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3:10 p.m.
The archbishop of Paris and parishioners of fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral are mourning the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.
Archbishop Michel Aupetit tweeted: “Why so much hate on this day when we celebrate love? On this Easter day, we are in communion with our murdered brethren of Sri Lanka.”
Aupetit celebrated Easter Mass for worshippers displaced from normal services at Notre Dame because of Monday’s fire.
A soldier and several police guarded the building. It was unclear whether the extra security was linked to the Sri Lanka attack, but parishioner Monique Pigere said “I understand why” security is needed, lamenting the “terrible” news.
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3:05 p.m.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned the “devastating” attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
In a statement, Ardern referred to the March 15 shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in which 50 died.
“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil,” Ardern said. “New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely.”
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says 115 New Zealanders are registered as being in Sri Lanka but more are likely to be there. There is no indication New Zealanders are among the victims.
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3 p.m.
European leaders are expressing horror at the attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote in a message to his Sri Lankan counterpart that he was “stunned and horrified” by the “cowardly terror attacks.” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply shaken and concerned by (the) devious terrorist attacks.”
The head of the European Union’s executive Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said he learned of the bombings “with horror and sadness.”
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2:50 p.m.
Three Gulf Arab nations have condemned the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that have killed at least 138 people.
Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates all issued statements via their foreign ministries over the attack.
The UAE called upon “the international community to close ranks and uproot the scourge of terrorism in order to ensure international peace and security.”
Qatar said it wanted to stress its “its firm stance on rejecting violence and terrorism.”
Bahrain, meanwhile, said “these acts of terrorism are incompatible with religious principles and human and moral values.”
The series of blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels killed at least 138 people. It’s the worst bout of violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country’s bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
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2:40 p.m.
British Prime Minister Teresa May has condemned what she called the “truly appalling” attacks in Sri Lanka.
May said on Twitter that “The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time.”
She added, “We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to (practice) their faith in fear.”
The series of blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels killed at least 138 people. It’s the worst bout of violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country’s bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
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2:30 p.m.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a series of attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka as “cruel and cynical.”
In a telegram of condolences sent to his Sri Lankan counterpart, the Russian leader said Moscow remains a “reliable partner of Sri Lanka in the fight against international terrorism.”
He added that the Russians “share the grief of the relatives of those killed and wish a quick recovery to all those who were wounded” after the Easter Sunday blasts that killed at least 138 people.
Putin voiced confidence that “the perpetrators and the masterminds of such a cruel and cynical crime committed amid the Easter festivities will take the punishment they deserve.”
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2:25 p.m.
The Archbishop of Colombo is calling for those responsible for the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka to be punished “mercilessly.”
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called on Sri Lanka’s government to launch a “very impartial strong inquiry” and to punish those found responsible “mercilessly because only animals can behave like that.”á
The series of blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels killed at least 138 people. It’s the worst bout of violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country’s bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was meeting top military officials and tweeted earlier Sunday that “the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation.”
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2:10 p.m.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, calling them “an assault on all of humanity.”
In comments posted on Twitter, Erdogan offered his condolences to families of the victims and to the people of Sri Lanka.
The near simultaneous attacks against three churches and three luxury hotels killed at least 138 people, according to a security official. It was the worst violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Regardless of the motive, the attack in Sri Lanka is the same as the traitorous attack in Christchurch: cowardly, barbaric and cruel.”
He was referring to last month’s attacks against two mosques in New Zealand during Friday prayers that killed 50 people.
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1:50 p.m.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened Sri Lanka’s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following a series of Easter Sunday blasts.
A senior official says at least 138 people died in the blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels. Hundreds of others have been hospitalized. The violence is the worst since Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
The official says at least two of the blasts were suspected to have been caused by suicide bombers.
Earlier, Wickremesinghe tweeted that “the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation.”
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1:50 p.m.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry has condemned explosions and terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in a statement that the people and government of Pakistan stand by Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday blasts that killed at least 138 people.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy close relations. Pakistan helped train Sri Lankan army officers in the civil war battle against Tamil rebels.
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11:10 a.m.
A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed at least 30 people and wounded 283 others.
National Hospital spokesman Dr. Samindi Samarakoon says the nearly 300 wounded have been admitted to the capital Colombo’s main hospital.
A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters says that six near simultaneous explosions hit three churches and three hotels frequented by foreign tourists.
The official suspects at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
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10:50 a.m.
A security official says six near simultaneous blasts have hit three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
The official says the explosions have caused multiple fatalities among worshippers and hotel guests.
The official says they suspect the blasts at two churches were carried out by suicide bombers.
One church, St. Anthony’s Shrine, and the three hotels are in Colombo and are frequented by foreign tourists. The other two churches are in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo, and the eastern town of Batticaloa.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with reporters.
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10:10 a.m.
Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers.
The first blast ripped through St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo.
Alex Agileson who was in the vicinity says buildings in the surrounding area shook with the blast.
He says a number of injured were carried in ambulances.
A second explosion was reported at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo.
The church has appealed for help on its Facebook page.
Sri Lankan security officials say they are checking for details.

CeCe Gaines

CeCe Gaines

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