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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — At least 207 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in eight bomb blasts that rocked churches and luxury hotels in or near Sri Lanka’s capital on Easter Sunday — the deadliest violence the South Asian island country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena described the bombings as a terrorist attack by religious extremists and said seven suspects had been arrested, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Wijewardena said most of the blasts were believed to have been suicide attacks.
Explosions - Ceilings - Windows - Worshippers - Hotel
The explosions collapsed ceilings and blew out windows, and the dead included worshippers and hotel guests. People were seen carrying the wounded out of blood-spattered pews.
The three bombed hotels and one of the churches, St. Anthony’s Shrine, are frequented by foreign tourists, and Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary said the bodies of at least 27 foreigners were recovered. Sri Lankan TV said the dead included people from Belgium, China, Britain and the U.S.
Prime - Minister - Ranil - Wickremesinghe - Violence
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the violence could trigger instability in Sri Lanka, a country of about 21 million people, and he vowed the government will “vest all necessary powers with the defense forces” to take action against those responsible for the massacre, “regardless of their stature.” The government imposed a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The scale of the bloodshed recalled the worst days of the nation’s 26-year civil war, in which the Tamil Tigers, a rebel group from the ethnic Tamil minority, sought independence from Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority country. During the war, the Tigers and other rebels carried out a multitude of bombings.
Archbishop - Colombo - Cardinal - Malcolm - Ranjith
The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka’s government to “mercilessly” punish those responsible “because only animals can behave like that.”
Police spokesman Ruwan...
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