Sri Lanka attacks death toll rises to 290, with around 500 wounded

Sri Lanka attacks death toll rises to 290, with around 500 wounded

Sri Lanka was devastated on Easter Sunday by bombings in three churches and four hotels.

The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, subsequently lamented the violence, which affected many Christians attending mass to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

"I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence," he said.

The death toll overnight was estimated by authorities to be 207 dead and 450 wounded, although it was expected to rise.

Now, this morning, the toll has risen to 290 dead and around 500 wounded, Reuters reports.

A bombed church in Sri Lanka. Credit: Getty

The attacks are the most devastating violence to hit the country since the Sri Lankan Civil War ended in 2009. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of those who lost their lives at the affected churches and hotels on Sunday.

This morning, a top Sri Lankan official was quoted as saying that the attacks were carried out with international help:

"We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country," cabinet secretary Rajitha Senaratne said.

"There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded."

A woman covers her mouth in shock in response to the Sri Lankan bombings. Credit: Getty

As per the BBC, Sri Lankan authorities now believe that a "previously unheard of" local group carried out the attacks. It was said earlier by Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne that they believed the group had international help.

BBC journalist Azzam Ameen has now revealed that Sri Lanka has declared April 23 a national day of mourning: