India denounces terror attack in Sri Lanka, offers help


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up the president and the premier of Sri Lanka and conveyed heartfelt condolences over the loss of over 160 lives in terrorist attacks in the island nation on Sunday.

During his conversations with Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Modi condemned the serial terrorist attacks in the strongest terms, perpetrated at sites including religious places and during a religious festival, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

Describing the attacks as "cold-blooded and pre-planned barbaric acts", Modi said these attacks were another grim reminder of the most serious challenge posed to the entire humanity by terrorism in our region and the entire world.

The Prime Minister renewed the offer of all possible help and assistance to Sri Lanka for ensuring its security against the challenges such as those posed by terrorism, the PMO statement said.

Condemning the blasts, Modi said there is no place for barbarism in the region and that India stands in solidarity with the people of the island nation.

"Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region," he tweeted."My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured," Modi said.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said India was standing together with the people and the government of Sri Lanka in this hour of grief.

"We strongly condemn the serial blasts on multiple locations in Sri Lanka today morning in which many people have been killed and injured.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of Sri Lanka. We wish speedy recovery to those injured in the attacks," the statement said.

"We call for perpetrators of such ghastly and heinous act and those who provide them support to be brought to justice expeditiously," the ministry said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also said India was keeping a close watch on the situation.

"Colombo - I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation. @IndiainSL," Swaraj tweeted.

"India has always opposed and rejected terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and has urged concerted action by the international community against terrorism, including cross-border terrorism. There can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror," the MEA said in the statement.

"Hundreds of innocent people were killed by terrorist in Sri Lanka. They were doing prayers in Church and celebrating Easter, at that time, terrorists killed scores of people including children and women. I express my condolence," Modi said later addressing a public meeting in Rajasthan's Chittorgarh. "India is standing by Sri Lanka and is ready for any help in the time of crisis," he said.

At least nine foreigners were among 160 people killed in six near simultaneous and coordinated explosions that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels frequented by tourists in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, in one of the deadliest blasts in the country's history, officials said.

The blasts targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am. (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels -- the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo. Foreigners and locals who were injured in hotel blasts were admitted to the Colombo General Hospital.

Later, two more blasts were reported in Colombo, targeting a hotel in the Sri Lankan capital's southern suburb near the Colombo Zoo and the other at a housing complex.

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