Sri Lanka blasts: Prime minister condemns 'cowardly' attacks, Pope stands with victims

Sri Lanka blasts: Prime minister condemns 'cowardly' attacks, Pope stands with victims

The first explosions were reported at St Anthony's Shrine (pictured) in Colombo and St
The first explosions were reported at St Anthony's Shrine (pictured) in Colombo and St Sebastian's Church in the town of Negombo just outside the capital AFP/ISHARA S. KODIKARA

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned a string of blasts that killed at least 137 people on Sunday (Apr 21) as "cowardly" and said the government was working to "contain the situation."

"I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today," he said in a tweet from his verified account.

"I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong... The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.

President Maithripala Sirisena in an address said he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm.

"Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway," Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet on his verified account.

He said he had been to two of the attacked hotels and was at the scene at St Anthony's Shrine, and described "horrible scenes."

"I saw many body parts strewn all over," he tweeted, adding that there were "many casualties including foreigners."

"Please stay calm and indoors," he added.

Pope Francis on Sunday also expressed his sadness at the attacks and said he stood with the victims of "such cruel violence".

Easter vigil Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
Pope Francis leads the Easter vigil Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Apr 20, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Remo Casilli)

"I learned with sadness the news of the attacks which today, Easter Sunday, brought mourning and pain," Francis said in his traditional Easter address at the Vatican.

"I want to express my affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence."

Source: AFP/mn/ga

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