THREE Britons and two people holding joint US and British citizenship were among more than 200 killed in Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, the country’s foreign ministry has said.

Police said the death toll in a series of explosions yesterday was at least 207, with more than 450 injured.

James Dauris, the UK’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, said he had spoken with Britons 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,” he said.

Officials in Sri Lanka said there were at least 27 foreign casualties – two Turkish nationals and one Dutch national are also among those who have died.

In the capital Colombo, St Anthony’s Shrine and the five-star Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted, along with a hotel near Dehiwala zoo and in the residential district of Dematagoda. Further blasts took place in St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, 20 miles north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in Batticaloa, on the east coast.

The National:

The attacks mark the worst bout of violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago.

Two of the blasts were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers. At least seven people were arrested, but no one immediately claimed responsibility. Kieran Arasaratnam, a professor at Imperial College London, was on his way to breakfast in the Shangri-La when he heard the blast.

He said he saw a young child being carried to an ambulance, and all around him, “everyone’s just running in panic”.

Arasaratnam told the BBC: “The military was coming in. It’s just total chaos. So I then just literally ran out and then I looked to the room on the right and there’s blood everywhere.”

The National:

The bloodshed was reminiscent of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war, which saw Tamil Tigers and other rebel groups target the Central Bank, a shopping centre, a Buddhist temple and popular tourist hotels.

The country has long faced a bitter ethnic divide between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, whose militants were trying to carve out their own homeland.

However, in the years since the war ended in 2009, a religious divide has grown, with the rise of Buddhist nationalist groups that stoke anger against the minority Muslims, saying they are stealing from Buddhist temples or desecrating them, or forcing people to convert to Islam.

St Anthony’s Shrine and the hotels where the explosions in Colombo happened are frequented by foreign tourists.

Dr Samindi Samarakoon, a National Hospital spokesperson, said it had received 47 dead there, including nine foreigners, and staff were treating more than 200 wounded.

The National:

Local TV showed damage at the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels. The Shangri-La’s second-floor restaurant was gutted, with its ceiling and windows blown out.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe convened the country’s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council after the blasts.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka’s government to launch a “very impartial strong inquiry” and to punish those found responsible “mercilessly because only animals can behave like that”.

The United Nations secretary general said he was “outraged” by the attacks.

António Guterres tweeted: “The UN stands in solidarity with Sri Lanka as the global community fights hatred and violent extremism together. Holy sites must be respected.”

Pope Francis mentioned the attacks in his Easter message at the Vatican, saying: “I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the “devastating” attacks and, in a statement, referred to the March 15 shootings in Christchurch, saying: “New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “My thoughts with the bereaved and injured, and all Sri Lankans at such a dark time.”

A statement from Israel’s government said: “The whole world must unite in the struggle against the scourge of terror.”