Sri Lanka blasts: World leaders condemn attack, call for punishment to perpetrators

At least eight explosions were reported by news agency Reuters, including at least three in churches and three in five-star hotels.

Leaders across the world condemned the powerful blasts at various locations in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday which killed more than 200 people, including 35 foreigners, and injured over 400.

At least eight explosions were reported by news agency Reuters at various churches and three in five-star hotels.

Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe held an emergency meeting and 200 troops have been deployed to carry out the relief operations in the country. However, the motive behind the attacks still remains unclear.

The Sri Lankan government declared a curfew with "immediate effect" until "further orders." "A curfew will be imposed until things settle down," news agency Reuters quoted Lankan junior Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene.

Government officials also said major social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, have been blocked inside the country to prevent misinformation and rumours, reported news agency Reuters.

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A shoe of a victim is seen in front of the St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade church. (Reuters)


Pope Francis terms attack as "cruel violence"

Pope Francis, while delivering his "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") message, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, condemned the blasts in Sri Lanka and termed it as "such cruel violence" and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter.

He said, "I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka. I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence."

US President Trump tweets ‘stand ready to help’

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to condemn the blasts and show his country’s support. He tweeted, "138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more that 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!"

Russia denounces attacks as "cruel and criminal"

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the attack and denounced it as "cruel and criminal." In a telegram sent to his Sri Lankan counterpart, Putin said Moscow stands with Lanka and is a "reliable partner of Sri Lanka in the fight against international terrorism."

Putin also wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the blasts and asked for the perpetrators and masterminds behind the "cynical attack" to be punished.

France’s Macron criticised the "heinous" blasts

France President Emmanuel Macron condemned the blasts that shook Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. He took to Twitter and wrote, "Deep sadness after the terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We strongly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts for all the relatives of the victims on this Easter day."

Pakistan lends support to Sri Lanka

Pakistan President Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the blasts and said that the country stands in support of Sri Lanka. He tweeted, "Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief."

Israel urges the world to "unite against terrorism"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep shock over the blasts which shook the island of Sri Lanka. He added that his country is ready to assist the Sri Lankan government and authorities with whatever possible help. He also urged the world to "unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism."

Arab nations call to uproot terrorism

Three Gulf nations, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar, condemned the blasts in Sri Lanka and urged the international community to "close ranks and uproot the scourge of terrorism in order to ensure international peace and security."

Qatar stressed its firm stance against "rejecting violence and terrorism", while Bahrain said, "these acts of terrorism are incompatible with religious principles and human and moral values.’

Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony’s Shrine after a blast in Colombo. (AP)

Germany’s Angela Merkel condemns the blasts

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a letter to Sri Lankan President, condemned the attack. She wrote, "It is shocking that people who had gathered to celebrate Easter were the deliberate target of vicious attacks."

UK condemns blasts, PM May calls it appaling

British Prime Minister took to Twitter hours after the blast and condemned the attacks as "truly appaling". She tweeted, "The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time."

She called for a strong stand in togetherness to make sure that "no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear."

Jerusalem’s Holy Land Catholics criticise attacks

The Catholic Church in Holy Land issued a statement that condemned the several blasts which took place in Sri Lanka on an Easter Sunday. The statement read, "We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation. We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds." The statement said the blasts were sad because they " came while Christians celebrate Easter."

Colombo’s Archbishop calls for those responsible to be punished "mercilessly"

The Archbishop of Colombo critisised the blasts and called for those responsible for the attack to be punished "mercilessly." Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called on Sri Lanka government and asked them to launch a "very impartial strong inquiry" into the blasts and said those found responsible should be "punished mercilessly because only animals can behave like that."

Foreign relatives of a victim of the explosion react at the police mortuary in Colombo. (Reuters)

India condemns blasts, stands in solidarity with Lanka

President Ram Nath Kovind, hours after the blasts which shook Sri Lanka, condemned the attacks and said that such senseless violence has no place in a civilised society.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had telephone conversations with President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, reported news agency ANI. He also tweeted that the country condemns the attacks and stands in solidarity with the people and the government of Sri Lanka. He tweeted, "Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured."

Men carry dead bodies towards ambulances near the St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo. (Reuters)

The External Affairs Ministry released a statement which said, "We strongly condemn the serial blasts on multiple locations in Sri Lanka today morning in which many people have been killed and injured. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of Sri Lanka. We wish speedy recovery to those injured in the attacks. We call for perpetrators of such ghastly and heinous act and those who provide them support to be brought to justice expeditiously. We stand together with the people and Government of Sri Lanka in this hour of grief."

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the government is keeping a close watch on the situation and was in touch with the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. "Colombo - I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation," she wrote on Twitter.