Over 156 people are dead in an Easter Sunday terrorist attack targeting Christians in Sri Lanka after multiple explosions ripped through high-end hotels and churches as suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up.

The explosions injured as many as 500 people across the country, and 35 foreigners – from the UK, US and Netherlands are among the dead, sources say.

Two of the blasts were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers, according to one security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with reporters.

The official said at least 45 people had been killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit, along with another 67 in the church attack in Negombo, north of the capital, with another 25 dead at a church in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country. The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and the Cinnamon Grand Colombo.

The country’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, condemned the ‘cowardly’ attacks after calling an emergency security council meeting, a source said. At least 160 people were injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official said.

‘A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,’ read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo. Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticalao, in the east of the country.

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