No reports of Malaysian casualties in Sri Lanka

The Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) has confirmed that as at 1.30pm yesterday, no Malaysians were reported to be among the fatalities following the explosions in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

“Malaysia strongly condemns the attacks and hopes that those responsible for this barbaric crime be brought to justice. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families affected,” it said, according to Bernama.

Wisma Putra advised Malaysians in the vicinity of these areas to exercise caution and to monitor the latest developments from local news, as well as local authorities.

The High Commission of Malaysia in Colombo is closely monitoring the situation and can be contacted at 45, Rosmead Place Colombo 07, Sri Lanka.

It can also be contacted at 00-(94) 11 755 7711 (office)/00-(94) 76 677 4445 /00-(94) 76 398 8777 and email at [email protected].

Reuters reported a series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka yesterday, killing at least 207 people, including dozens of foreigners.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attacks — the worst act of violence since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war a decade ago — as “cowardly”, as the government imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the entire country.

The powerful blasts — six in quick succession and then two more hours later — left hundreds injured and wrought devastation, including at the capital’s well-known St Anthony’s Shrine, a historic Catholic Church.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told a press conference the death toll had risen to at least 207, at press time, with over 450 people wounded and three people had been arrested.

At least two of the explosions were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police sources and a hotel official, and Gunasekera said the authorities are investigating whether suicide attackers were involved in all eight of them.

Ravinatha Aryasinha, secretary to the foreign ministry, told reporters there were 27 bodies of suspected foreign nationals in the Colombo National Hospital.

A police official said earlier that 35 foreigners were among the dead and hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens had been killed, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man also died, the country’s LUSA news agency reported.

An AFP photographer at the scene at St Anthony’s saw bodies lying on the floor, some draped with scarves and clothes. Much of the church roof was blown out in the explosion, with roof tiles, glass and splintered wood littering the floor along with pools of blood.

At the Shangri-La Hotel, an AFP photographer saw extensive damage on the second floor restaurant, with windows blown out and electrical wires hanging from the ceiling.

The injured flooded into local hospitals, where officials reported hundreds of wounded were being admitted.

The first blast was reported at St Anthony’s, followed by a second deadly explosion at St Sebastian’s, a church in the town of Negombo, north of the capital.

Soon after, police confirmed that a third church in the east-coast town of Batticaloa had been hit, along with three high-end hotels in the capital — the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri-La and the Kingsbury.

A manager at the Cinnamon Grand, near the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo, said a suicide bomber blew himself up at people at the hotel’s restaurant. “He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast,” he told AFP.

Later in the afternoon, two died in a strike at a hotel in the south of Colombo, while a police source said a suicide bomber killed three officers in the suburb of Orugodawatta in the north of the capital. — Bernama/AFP