Terror in Sri Lanka

A holy day meant for rest and worship turned deadly in Sri Lanka

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

A series of bombs ripped through churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing at least 290 people and injuring hundreds. Several of those bombs went off inside churches, during Easter services in three cities.

Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community, which accounts for less than 10% of the country’s total population of 21.4 million, appeared to be the main target of the coordinated attacks.

Though it wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the eight explosions that paralyzed the country, Manisha Gunasekera, high commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK, said the blasts are “certainly acts of terror.” Ten days before the attack, an intelligence memo warning of a possible attack had been circulated, raising questions about whether more could have been done to prevent the attack. An island-wide curfew was implemented until the following morning.

Here’s what we know about each location attacked on Sunday.


An explosion went off during Easter services at St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, the capital city. Three high-end hotels were also targeted: Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La Hotel and The Kingsbury.

People who live near one of the churches attacked on Sunday take cover as military personnel work to defuse a suspected vehicle nearby on Monday. Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
St. Anthony’s
A woman runs for cover near St. Anthony’s shrine on Monday. Eranga Jayawardena/AP
Shangri-la hotel
A police officer inspects the scene at Shangri-La hotel. Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
Cinnamon Grand hotel
Security forces inspect the scene after a blast targeting Cinnamon Grand hotel. Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu/Getty Images
Kingbury hotel
The Kingsbury Hotel was targeted Sunday by a suicide bomber. Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images
Kingbury hotel
Police patrol outside the Kingsbury hotel. Xinhua/Sipa USA


St. Sebastian's Church, more than 22 miles north of the capital, was targeted.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Shoes and belongings of victims are collected as evidence at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo on Monday. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
A woman looks into a container where bodies of victims are kept at a hospital in Negombo on Monday. Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Sri Lankan soldiers inspect the damage inside St. Sebastian's Church. Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images
St. Sebastian’s Church
Officials inspect St. Sebastian's Church. Getty Images
St. Sebastian’s Church
Sri Lankan security stands guard outside St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo. Stringer/Getty Images


A bomb tore through the evangelical Zion Church, 196 miles away from Colombo on Sri Lanka's east coast.

Zion church
Security personnel and investigators look through debris outside Zion Church. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images
Zion church
Security personnel walk past debris outside Zion Church. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images
Sri Lankan hospital workers and Army soldiers stand at the door to a morgue following a blast in a church in Batticaloa. Lakruwan Wanniarachichi/Getty Images

Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia

A hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo was attacked.

Dehiwala zoo
A view of blast site near the Dehiwala zoo, near Colombo, Sri Lanka. Akila Jayawardana/NurPhoto/Zuma Press


The final blast occurred at a private house in Mahawila Gardens in the Dematagoda area while police officers conducted a raid in connection with the attacks. Three police officers were killed.

Dehiwala zoo
Armed police arrive on motorbikes after a blast in the Colombo suburb of Dematagoda. M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPA

Produced by Bernadette Tuazon, Sean O’Key and Darran Simon. Cody McCloy, Natalie Yubas, Henrik Pettersson, Ignacio Osorio and Padraic Driscoll contributed to this report.

Maps: Maps4News/©HERE