Hundreds Killed and More Injured in Bomb Attacks in Sri Lanka

A series of coordinated attacks at churches and prominent hotels on Easter Sunday has left 290 people dead and hundreds injured in Sri Lanka.

Officials comb through debris at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a city just north of the capital Colombo. St. Sebastian’s Church was one of three churches targeted by attackers. Photo courtesy of Stringer/Getty Images

Eight blast sites have been reported and the Sri Lankan government has shut down social media and established a curfew while it assesses the possibility for more attacks. The Sri Lankan army has been deployed to holy sites across the country as an extra measure of security.

The US State Department has issued a travel warning stating “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka” and urging travelers to be careful. A six foot long pipe bomb was found near the Bandaranaike International Airport on Sunday night and was diffused safely.

The Kingsbury Hotel was targeted by a suicide bomber on Sunday, April 21 in Colombo. Photo courtesy of Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

30 year old Akshat Saraf was a guest at Colombo’s Shangri-La Hotel when he heard two blasts go off. He led his wife and their infant daughter from their room on the 25th floor to the lobby to see what had happened, fearing the worst.

“First blast was very loud and our room started shaking. At first I thought it was a thunderstorm and I didn’t pay too much attention. It had been raining in Sri Lanka for some time,” said Saraf in an interview with CNN.

“It was the second blast when I sensed that something was not right. When we reached the 4th floor we saw blood on the stairs,” said Saraf. “When we evacuated that’s when we saw a lot of ambulances and hotel staffs helping the injured guests outside.”

A police officer surveys the damage at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Photo courtesy of Dinuka Liyanawatte/ReutersD

“It was a horrific sight. When I saw injured guests, they seemed very serious. Some of them [had] junks of glass stuck in their body. I could see some of the chefs in white aprons covered in blood.”

Armed officers and emergency crews were on the seen within minutes and began evacuating all guests to a nearby shelter.

Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 individuals but no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.