Sri Lankan security forces secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo. PIX: GETTY IMAGES via BBC

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka is in shock after more than 200 people were killed in a wave of bomb blasts that hit churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.

An island-wide curfew was lifted Monday at 06:00 local time (01:30 GMT).

Late on Sunday Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said security services had been “aware of information” of a possible attacks.

Arrests have been made, but the government has not yet identified who carried out the attacks.

Several foreigners are among the dead and injured.

There are reports of social media networks being temporarily restricted to try and stop misinformation spreading. Popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook are said to be unavailable to many.

Late on Sunday, the air force said an improvised explosive device had been found and disposed of close to the country’s main airport in the capital, Colombo.

“A PVC pipe which was six feet [1.8m] in length containing explosives in it was discovered,” spokesman Gihan Seneviratne told local media.

How did the attacks unfold?

The first reports of explosions came at about 08:45 (03:15 GMT) local time – with six blasts reported within a small space of time.

Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services and blasts also rocked the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the country’s capital.

As police hunted those responsible, two further explosions were reported.

One blast hit near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, and an eighth was reported near the Colombo district of Dematagoda during a police raid, killing three officers.

It remains unclear who was behind the attacks, but 13 arrests were made by police on Sunday.

The government has said they believe suicide bombs were used at some of the sites.

During a news conference on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed rumours that officials had had prior intelligence of forthcoming attacks.

“We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken. Neither I nor the Ministers were kept informed,” he said.

“For now the priority is to apprehend the attackers,” he added.

Sri Lanka Colombo Easter Sunday Attacks
Source: BBC

Government officials have called for the public to remain calm while investigations take place.

Airlines have said people are still able to travel to Bandaranaike International Airport in spite of the curfew.

Travellers have been told to produce their boarding pass and identification at checkpoints and arrive four hours before their scheduled departure.

Who are the victims?

The vast majority of those killed are thought to be Sri Lankan nationals, including scores of Christians who died at Easter church services.

The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it believes 36 foreign nationals are among the dead, with most still unidentified at a Colombo morgue.

The international victims include:

  • At least five British citizens – including two with joint US citizenship
  • Three Danish citizens
  • One Portuguese citizen and three Indian nationals, according to Sri Lankan officials
  • Two engineers from Turkey, according to Turkish news outlet Anadolu
  • One person from the Netherlands
  • One person from Japan, according to Japanese media citing government sources – BBC

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