42 dead while 280 injured in deadly blasts in Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO — At least 42 people have been killed and hundreds injured after explosions in three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, according to sources.
The blasts hit several high-end hotels and a church in Colombo, while two other churches were targeted outside Colombo, Sri Lanka police told news agency AFP.

The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear.

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The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in the town of Negombo.

“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.

Soon after the initial reports, four other blasts were confirmed by the police. Three of those were at hotels, while another was reported from a church in the town of Batticaloa.

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

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, responding to the explosions, said that she is in close touch with the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo and that the government was closely monitoring the situation in the neighboring country.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.

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