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Total of six blasts at Sri Lanka churches and hotels: police

21 April 2019, MVT 10:29
Explosions have hit three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, police said Sunday.
Ambulances are seen outside the church premises with gathered people and security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. - Explosions have hit three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, police said on April 21. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)
An ambulance is seen outside the church premises with gathered security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)
Explosions have hit three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, police said Sunday.
21 April 2019, MVT 10:29

Colombo, Sri Lanka | AFP - Explosions have hit three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, police said Sunday.

The blasts hit several high-end hotels and one church in the capital, while two additional churches were targeted outside Colombo, police said.

Police said the blasts hit churches in the north of the capital and in the town of Negombo, just outside Colombo.

There were initial reports of at least 80 people injured in the capital.

"Eighty people have already been admitted, and more are still coming in," an official at the Colombo National Hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear.

"A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there," read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian's Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.

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Maldives' Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it was closely monitoring the situation, and looking into whether any Maldivians in Sri Lanka were injured in the blasts.

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Maldives' Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid condemned the deadly attacks.

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At least 42 people were killed in the blasts, a police official told AFP.

At least one of the victims was killed in Colombo's Cinnamon Grand Hotel, near the prime minister's official residence, where the blast ripped through a restaurant, a hotel official told AFP.

Meanwhile, some reports put the number of injured people at over 200.

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Reports put the current death toll at 101, and the numbers are expected to increase, according to officials.

Sri Lanka police stated that the nature of the explosive device is still unknown, nor have they received intelligence on the identities of the perpetrators.

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Sri Lankan government is holding an emergency Cabinet meeting. Sunday's explosions mark the biggest terrorist attack in the capital since the Sri Lankan Civil War ended in 2009.

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Two of the people killed were foreigners, reports say, while hospitals report that several foreigners are also among the injured. However, Maldives' Foreign Ministry shared that they have not received reports of any Maldivians injured in the attacks.

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Several Maldivian politicians and civilians are condemning the attack and sending condolences to the victims, on social media.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities have advised travellers to head to the airports four hours in advance. Security in capital Colombo have been greatly reinforced.

Following rumours that explosions took place at eight locations, Lankan police have also called on the public to refrain from spreading misinformation.

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Current death toll in the explosions is at 160.

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Sri Lanka police chief warned of possible suicide attacks before Sunday blasts, reports AFP.

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