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Series of explosions in Sri Lanka churches and hotels kills dozens

Over 100 people were killed Sunday in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP.

The fatalities include at least 45 people killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit, and another 25 dead in the town of Batticoloa, 250 km (155 miles) east of the capital, where a church was attacked.

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

A police official said at least 67 people were killed in the St. Sebastian’s blast.

At least 160 people injured in the St. Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official told AFP.

“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 at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.

Another explosion was reported at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country.

Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

At least one of the victims was killed in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, near the prime minister’s official residence, where the blast ripped through a restaurant, a hotel official told AFP.

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

Graphic photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast.

The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.

Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.

The images could not immediately be verified.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but police said they appeared coordinated, the New York Times reported.

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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