More than 137 individuals have been killed and another 150 injured after a number of coordinated bomb blasts rocked numerous hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday, CNN reports. The explosions reportedly occurred in the cities of Negombo, Batticalo, and Colombo. The attacks targeted at least three hotels as well as three churches, taking place as worshipers attended Easter religious services.
Sri Lankan Member of Parliament Harsha de Silva took to Twitter to provide updates on the situation.
“Sec Defence and I am at Kochchikade church. Also was at ShangriLa n [sic] Kingsbury. PM is on his way from Bentota. Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway. Please stay calm and indoors. Many casualties including foreigners,” he tweeted.
In subsequent messages, de Silva reported “Horrible scenes,” saying “I saw many body parts strewn all over.”
According to de Silva, the heads of the Sri Lankan Army, Navy and Air Force have come together for an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and multiple additional cabinet ministers. The Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Foreign Affairs were also present.
Graphic images emerging from the scene via social media show the inside of Saint Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, with a destroyed ceiling and blood on the pews.
President Maithripala Sirisena issued a statement calling for people to remain calm and cooperate with the authorities in their investigations as events continue to unfold.
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe organized an emergency meeting shortly after the blasts.
“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,” Wickremesinghe said.
As locals and the world at large struggle to make sense of the events as they take place, numerous reports are beginning to surface through social media as the public — as well as government officials — take to platforms like Twitter to spread information from the scene.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the attacks appeared to be a highly coordinated effort to create “murder, mayhem and anarchy.”
Sri Lanka has faced sporadic violence since the end of a civil war in 2009. In the past, members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and other Muslim-owned properties.
There has since, however, been concern that Islamic State fighters returning from the Middle East could pose a new threat in the country.
No terrorist group has yet taken responsibility for the bombings.