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21 May 2019 15:19
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  •   Home > News > International

    What we know about the Sri Lanka bombings at churches and Colombo hotels

    Several cities are rocked by suicide bombing attacks at three churches and three hotels on Sunday morning, followed by two further explosions mere hours later.


    Almost 300 people have been killed and around 500 injured in coordinated bombings at hotels and churches across Sri Lanka.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed two Australians from the same family, who were living in Sri Lanka, were among those killed.

    Two other Australians are among the hundreds of people who were injured in the Easter Sunday attacks.

    Suicide bombers behind attacks

    The attacks were carried out by members of a domestic militant group called National Thowfeek Jamaath, a government official said.

    All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

    Earlier, government forensic investigator Ariyananda Welianga said analysis had revealed the attackers were suicide bombers.

    There were four attacks at 8:45am on Sunday morning (local time). A fifth occurred five minutes later before a sixth explosion at 9:05am.

    Mr Welianga said two suicide bombers carried out an attack on the Shangri-La hotel.

    One suicide bomber each also then attacked the Cinnamon Grand hotel, the Kingsbury hotel and St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, St Sebastian's church in Negombo and the Zion church in Batticaloa.

    In the early afternoon there was a seventh blast at a hotel opposite the national zoo, and an eighth explosion near an overpass on the outskirts of Colombo at 2:15pm.

    These two later blasts are still under investigation.

    Suspects detonated explosives at a safe house near the overpass blast, killing three police officers.

    Police have arrested 13 Sri Lankans in relation to the attacks.

    The attacks come almost a decade after the end of a bloody civil war.

    Here's how events unfolded.

    Explosions set off during Easter Sunday services

    Two Catholic churches and one evangelical church were targeted in three separate cities.

    St Anthony's Shrinein Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital, is a popular place of worship and tourist attraction.

    Alex Agileson, who was in the vicinity, said buildings in the surrounding area shook with the blast.

    More than 50 people were killed at St Sebastian's in Negombo, north of Colombo.

    Pictures show the church's roof was blown off in the blast.

    Media reported 25 people were killed in an attack on the evangelical Zion Church in Batticaloa on the country's east coast.

    Popular luxury hotels targeted

    Three five-star hotels in Colombo that are frequented by foreigners were attacked on Sunday morning.

    A tourist, who asked not to be named, told the ABC she was eating at the second-floor restaurant of the Shangri-La when there were two blasts about 10 seconds apart.

    She said the area had been full of visitors, including children.

    "There was just screaming and everywhere I looked there was blood," she said.

    "Everyone was just hiding trying to work out what had just happened and what was going to happen and we just didn't know."

    The Cinnamon Grand confirmed on Facebook that an explosion happened in a restaurant on the ground floor.

    The Kingsbury Hotel was also attacked.

    Two more blasts outside Colombo

    An explosion was detonated at about 1:45pm on Sunday at the New Tropical Inn opposite the national zoo in Dehiwala, south of Colombo.

    An eyewitness on local TV said he saw some body parts including a severed head lying on the ground near the hotel.

    The zoo has since been closed.

    At 2:15pm another blast occurred at a house in Dematagoda, a suburb in Colombo, during a police raid. Three police were killed in the explosion.

    Late on Sunday night police reported a petrol bomb attack had occurred at a mosque, while arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims were reported in different parts of the country.

    Worst violence since civil war

    Sunday's attacks are the worst violence in Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war a decade ago.

    The Sri Lankan Defence Minister has described the bombings as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.

    Sir Lankan authorities have confirmed they had prior information about the attacks on churches 10 days before the bombings.

    ABC/wires

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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