"The toll is around 290 (dead) and 500 wounded," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. 24 people were arrested in connection with this wave of attacks, which have not been claimed at this stage, he added.
Sri Lanka was dressing its wounds on Monday after a bloody Easter Sunday in which suicide bombers killed 290 people and wounded 500 others, stirring up global excitement.
In a few hours, bombs have sown death and desolation in luxury hotels and churches celebrating Easter Mass in several places of the Southeast Asian island, which had not experienced such an outburst of violence since the end of the civil war ten years ago. No group has yet claimed responsibility for these coordinated attacks, in connection with which the authorities arrested 24 people.
Six very close explosions occurred on Sunday in the morning, and two hours later, in this popular country of tourists for its idyllic beaches and its green nature. Their exact number of foreigners killed "is difficult to determine, around 37 died, of which 11 have been identified, some of the bodies are mutilated and it is difficult to identify them," said a Foreign Affairs official.
Indians, Portuguese, Turks, British and Americans are among the nationalities killed. Sunday evening, a "homemade bomb" was discovered and defused on a road leading to the main terminal of Colombo airport. The airport remains open under high security.
In Colombo, three beachfront luxury hotels – the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Shangri-La and Kingsbury – and St. Anthony's Church were hit by almost simultaneous attacks from 08H30-09H00 local Sunday .
Bombs also exploded in the San Sebastián church in Negombo and another in Batticaloa, a town on the other side of Sri Lanka, on the east coast. A few hours later, two more explosions occurred. One in a hotel in Dehiwala, a southern suburb of Colombo, the other in Orugodawatta, in the north of the city, where a suicide bomber blew himself up during a police operation.
"It was a torrent of blood," said N. A. Sumanapala, a shopkeeper next to St. Anthony's Church in Colombo, who was beaten in the morning. "I rushed inside to help, the priest came out, covered in blood." A video taken in one of the affected churches showed many curled bodies, the floor strewn with rubble and covered with blood, the walls pitted with splinters. The violence of the explosion blew parts of the roof, letting the sky glimpse.
Pope Francis expressed his "sadness" when he heard "the news of the serious attacks, which today, today, Easter, brought mourning and pain in many churches and other meeting places in Sri Lanka". The archbishop of Colombo has called for "mercilessly punishing" those responsible. From the Vatican to the United States to India, the international condemnations were unanimous.