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Sri Lanka imposes curfew after Easter Sunday blasts

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The government has imposed an island-wide curfew as security forces try to maintain law and order and investigate the attacks.

Colombo

MULTIPLE explosions rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday as attacks on churches and hotels left at least 207 dead, including as many as 30 foreigners in the worst violence since a civil war ended a decade ago.

The government has imposed an island-wide curfew as security forces try to maintain law and order and investigate the attacks. Those respon-sible for the blasts have been identified and seven people have been arrested so far, Sri Lanka's information minister Ruwan Wijewardene said.

The powerful blasts - six in quick succession and then two more hours later - wrought devastation, including at the capital's well-known St Anthony's Shrine, a historic Catholic Church. At least 450 people were injured. Foreigners were among those reported dead after explosions at luxury hotels such as the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand.

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Sri Lanka had previously received warnings of possible church attacks, but not on hotels, Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando said on Sunday, noting that some of the explosions were suicide bombings.

The blasts at churches took place during Easter Sunday mass, in a country where large-scale attacks on Catholics and Christians have been rare. All Easter masses scheduled for Sunday evening were cancelled, while schools that were scheduled to reopen for the new term on Monday will remain closed until Wednesday.

Catholics, split between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority, make up 6.5 per cent of Sri Lanka's population, according to the nation's 2012 census. More than 70 per cent of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, 12 per cent are Hindu and 10 per cent are Muslim, the census shows.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said his government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation. In a televised appearance, he warned of an impact to the economy and investment flows."You will find a downward trend in the economy," he said. "Tourism will get affected. There may be fund outflows."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was horrified by the heinous attacks and offered "our deepest condolences to the victims and their families". In a Facebook posting he said: "Singapore condemns such senseless acts of violence. We stand firmly behind Sri Lanka in its efforts to preserve the hard-wrought peace and stability. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sri Lanka. May they find strength and unity to overcome this adversity together." BLOOMBERG, AFP, REUTERS

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