Five Britons among more than 200 killed in Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka

Five Britons are among more than 200 people killed in a series of bombings which ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the Easter Sunday massacre was "truly appalling", and "no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear".

Sri Lanka's foreign ministry said three Britons and two holding joint US and British nationalities were killed.

James Dauris, UK's High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, visited injured Britons in hospital and condemned the "senseless attack".

Six nearly simultaneous explosions at churches and hotels killed scores of people in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.

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A man mourns at a grave of a victim, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, at Sellakanda Catholic cemetery in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Grief has rung out through Sri Lanka in the wake of the deadly attacks (AFP Photo/ISHARA S. KODIKARA)
Two women mourn during a funeral service for bomb blast victims at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - Sri Lanka began a day of national mourning on April 23 with three minutes of silence to honour more than 300 people killed in suicide bomb blasts that have been blamed on a local Islamist group. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman cries at a service for bomb blast victims at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - Sri Lanka began a day of national mourning on April 23 with three minutes of silence to honour more than 300 people killed in suicide bomb blasts that have been blamed on a local Islamist group. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - This Sunday, April 21, 2019, file photo shows the inside of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka are a bloody echo of decades past in the South Asian island nation, when militants inspired by attacks in the Lebanese civil war helped develop the suicide bomb vest. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, File)
A Sri Lankan roman catholic woman prays during a three minute nationwide silence observe to pay homage to the victims of Easter Sunday's blasts outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. A state of emergency has taken effect giving the Sri Lankan military war-time powers not used since civil war ended in 2009. Police arrested 40 suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by suicide bombers involved in deadly Easter bombings. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka Easter bombings that killed over 300 (ABC News)
A man mourns at a grave of a victim, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, at Sellakanda Catholic cemetery in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called a national security council meeting at his house and 200 troops have been deployed to carry out the rescue operation.
Officials say at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
Condolences poured in from journalists, cricketers and the film fraternity tweeting condemnation of the attack.
Officials say at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
Sri Lanka blasts
Explosions struck hotels and churches.
Todas las explosiones ocurrieron hacia las 8.45 horas (2.30 GMT), en al menos tres hoteles de lujo en Colombo y también en un iglesia de la capital, otra en Katana, en el oeste del país, y la tercera en Batticaloa, en el este de la isla. EFETodas las explosiones ocurrieron hacia las 8.45 horas (2.30 GMT), en al menos tres hoteles de lujo en Colombo y también en un iglesia de la capital, otra en Katana, en el oeste del país, y la tercera en Batticaloa, en el este de la isla. EFETodas las explosiones ocurrieron hacia las 8.45 horas (2.30 GMT), en al menos tres hoteles de lujo en Colombo y también en un iglesia de la capital, otra en Katana, en el oeste del país, y la tercera en Batticaloa, en el este de la isla. EFE
Atentados en Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: An inside view of the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Atentados en Sri Lanka
Priests walk into the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
A shoe of a victim is seen in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: An inside view of the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan military officers stand guard in front of the St Anthony's Church where an explosion took place in Kochchikade, Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019.- At least 137 people were killed in Sri Lanka on April 21, police sources told AFP, when a string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Sri Lankan police stand at the site of an explosion in a restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: Security forces secure the area around the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Ambulances are seen outside the church premises with gathered people and security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Hours later, there were further explosions in Dehiwala and Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo.

The authorities said 207 were killed and 450 injured in the attacks, most of which were being blamed on suspected suicide bombers.

No one has taken responsibility for the killings, but officials say seven suspects have been arrested.

The Easter attacks are the worst bloodshed Sri Lanka has seen since its brutal civil war ended a decade ago.

Mr Dauris said: "I've been speaking this afternoon with Brits in hospital who have been affected by today's senseless attacks.

"My team's and my thoughts go out to all those people who are suffering as a result of the deplorable violence Sri Lanka has witnessed this Easter Sunday."

Mrs May said: "The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time.

"We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear."

A view of St Sebastian's Church
A view of St Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo (Chamila Karunarathne/AP)

Britons in Sri Lanka who need help were urged to call the High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 5390639, while people in the UK worried about friends or family should call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 1500.

Sri Lanka Church Blasts
Firefighters near St Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for "unity, love and respect" to combat hatred.

He said: "I'm appalled by the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian calendar.

"I stand with the victims, their families, the people of Sri Lanka and Christians around the world. We must defeat this hatred with unity, love and respect."

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the attacks were "horrifying", and "to target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked".

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "On this holy day, let us stand with the people of Sri Lanka in prayer, condolence and solidarity as we reject all violence, all hatred and all division."

Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned "the cowardly attacks on our people".

In Colombo, St Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions.

Other blasts were reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

Sri Lanka Church Blasts
The blood-spattered wall and statute of Jesus Christ inside St Sebastian's Church, Negombo (AP Photo)

Julian Emmanuel and his family, from Surrey, were staying at the Cinnamon Grand when the bomb went off.

He told the BBC: "We were in our room and heard a large explosion. It woke us up. There were ambulances, fire crews, police sirens.

"I came out of the room to see what's happening, we were ushered downstairs.

"We were told there had been a bomb. Staff said some people were killed. One member of staff told me it was a suicide bomber."

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