Police arrest suspects in blast investigation
The death toll in the Easter Sunday Massacre has risen to 207 people, the Ministry of Defense said a short while ago.
Around 450 people are injured in the six attacks three of which targeted Christians worshiping on their holiest day.
Thirty five of the deceased are foreigners police said.
Three of the dead are police Special Task Force paramilitary commandos who raided a three storeyed apartment complex in Dematagoda in the afternoon.
Several men were arrested in the raid and police say they are investigating links to extremist organisations.
State minister for Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told a news conference the authorities are aware who was behind the attacks.
The first two explosions occurred almost simultaneously at St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, Colombo, and St. Sebestian’s Church in Katuwapitiya Katana.
Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara told RepublicNext that both explosions occurred between 8.45am and 9am, injuring scores of churchgoers.
The St Sebastian’s blast took the highest toll, as more than sixty people died almost instantly.
Explosions were also reported from the Zion evangelical church in Batticaloa, and three luxury hotels in Colombo: the Shangri-La, the Kingsbury and the Cinnammon Grand.
According to the Director of the National Hospital in Colombo, the death toll now stands at 207, with at least 20 foreigners among the dead. Nearly 300 people have suffered injuries.
President Maithripala Sirisena issuing a statement to the nation expressed his shock and dismay at the attack and urged the public to refrain from spreading misinformation.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted: “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.”
Condemning the attack, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Fernando said he’s uncertain whether the attack was planned in Sri Lanka or planned elsewhere by foreign actors. He urged the Sri Lankan public to help the victims and also donate blood if possible.