More than 200 people are dead and another 450 left wounded after eight bombing attacks in at least three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians observed the culmination of Holy Week Sunday.
Police report that the coordinated bombing attacks took place at about 8:45 a.m. and appear to have been carried out by suicide bombers. It is unclear what group the bombers are affiliated with.
Some of the dead were worshipers gathered for Mass at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the capital; St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, about 20 miles north of Colombo; and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa, The New York Times said.
High-end hotels frequented by foreigners in Colombo, the capital, including the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury were also attacked.
Sarita Marlou, a singer at the Shangri-La, said she felt the blast from the attack at the hotel “all the way up to the 17th floor.”
“The bomb blasted inside Table One Restaurant on the 3rd floor, the main restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo where people were apparently having their Easter breakfast. Felt the blast all the way up to the 17th floor where we were sleeping. Few minutes later, we were asked to evacuate the hotel,” she said in a Facebook post.
“While running down the stairs, saw a lot of blood on the floor but we were still clueless as to what really happened. Only after we got out of the hotel that we knew about the unfortunate incident and that it also hit two other nearby hotels, Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury. Apparently, churches were bombed, too. What a tragic day for Sri Lanka indeed,” she said.
“What brought a tear in my eye was when they handed out food that was prepared with so much love and anticipation for the supposed Easter celebration of the hotel. My heart goes to the staff who prepared these and got injured from the blast unfortunately,” she added.
Early Sunday morning President Donald Trump expressed condolences to the people of Sri Lanka and said the U.S. stands “ready to help.”
“138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more than 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!” Trump tweeted.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed condolences and condemned that attack.
“Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief,” he tweeted.