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Death toll in Sri Lanka blasts rises to 137

At least 137 people were killed in Sri Lanka on Sunday, police sources said, when a string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least 45 people had been killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit.

Another 67 were killed in an attack on a church in Negombo north of the capital, with another 25 dead at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.

The nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.

President Maithripala Sirisena in an address said he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm.

FIRST EXPLOSIONS

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wrote on Twitter: “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.”

The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Shrine – a church in Colombo – and St Sebastian’s Church in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.

Dozens of people injured in the St Anthony’s blast flooded into the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official said.

BOMB ATTACK

“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.

Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in Batticaloa.

An official at one of the hotels, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel near the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo, said that the blast had ripped through the hotel restaurant. He said at least one person had been killed in the blast.

An official at the Batticaloa hospital said more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.