Explosions in Sri Lanka churches, hotels

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Over 40 persons have reportedly been killed while more than 260 people have been injured and admitted to the Colombo National Hospital following the explosions in Colombo this morning, hospital sources said.

AFP reported that the death toll has reached 156 people, including 35 foreigners, according to police.

President Maithripala Sirisena said he had ordered the police special task force and military to investigate who was behind the attacks and their agenda.

Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been nearly blown off in the blast.

St. Sebastian's church posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the floor, and requested help from the public.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari condemned the attack in a tweet, saying that terrorism needs a strong united global approach to be effectively defeated worldwide. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation.

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Earlier, Wickremesinghe tweeted that "the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation".

A second explosion was reported at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo.

Tamil Guardian's correspondent in Batticaloa said that young children were amongst the casualties.

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

An official said they suspect the blasts at two churches were carried out by suicide bombers.

"Emergency meeting called in a few minutes".

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The Archbishop of Colombo is calling for those responsible for the Easter Sunday blasts to be punished "mercilessly".

Parliamentary member Harsha de Silva said foreigners were among the dead or injured, but did not provide further details. The blast had taken place at several other places also in Sri Lanka.

The hotels targeted in the attack are all popular destinations for tourists, among them the Cinnamon Grand, which is near the prime minister's official residence in Colombo.

The horrifying Easter Sunday attacks come after a lull violence in the country since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.

"British nationals in Sri Lanka should follow the instructions of the local authorities and check FCO travel advice for updates". "People and Government of Pakistan stand by people and Government of Sri Lanka at this moment of tragedy and against terror" the spokesperson said.

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