A seventh and eighth blast, at a hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and at a private house in Mahawila Gardens, in Dematagoda, occurred Sunday afternoon.
Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo, spoke to CNN from St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the locations targeted.
He said that the blast took place after Easter Mass, and there were about 30 bodies lying in the area of the church.
Tillekeratne said three priests had been celebrating the mass at the time of the blast. Two of them were badly injured by flying glass and debris, and one was only lightly injured because he was behind the altar.
He estimated that more than a thousand people had come to the church for Easter Sunday “because it is a special day.” Many came from villages, he added.
He described the ground as covered in rubble and shattered glass.
“You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside of the church,” he added.
Police in Sri Lanka imposed an island-wide curfew starting Sunday at 6 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET Sunday) until the morning.
The country’s authorities convened an emergency meeting involving the heads of the army, air force and navy, according to Sri Lanka’s economic reforms minister, Harsha de Silva.
He said on Twitter that all emergency steps had been taken and that the group would issue a statement on the blasts.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the blasts on Twitter, calling on Sri Lankans to “remain united and strong.”
President Maithripala Sirisena also spoke out following the attacks. “I have given instructions to take very stern action against the persons who are responsible for this conspiracy,” he said.
Leave has been canceled for all police in Sri Lanka.
“Horrible scenes, I saw many body parts strewn all over,” de Silva said after visiting the Kochchikade church and Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. “We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives.”
De Silva confirmed that foreigners were among the casualties and said rescue operations were underway, adding that emergency crews were operating in “full force.”
Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community appeared to be the main target of Sunday’s attack. Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka, accounting for less than 10% of the total population of 21.4 million.
According to census data, 70.2% of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist, 12% Hindu, 9.7% Muslim, and 7.4% Christian. It is estimated that 82% of Sri Lankan Christians are Roman Catholic.
Sunday’s attacks risk upsetting the country’s fragile post-war peace. Tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority led to a 25-year insurgency
between the Tamil Tigers, classified by the US and others as a terrorist organization, and government forces.
More than 70,000 people died in the fighting
, which ended when Sri Lankan forces defeated the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
In recent years, the country has witnessed a surge in ultra-nationalist Buddhism led by the Bodu Bala Sena, the country’s most powerful Buddhist organization, which has pledged
to defend the religion.