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Death toll continues to rise after explosions in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

A security official says six near simultaneous blasts hit three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Source: MGN)
A security official says six near simultaneous blasts hit three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Source: MGN)
Published: Apr. 21, 2019 at 1:31 PM CDT
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A group that monitors internet censorship says Sri Lankan authorities have blocked most social media services in the country following attacks that killed more than 200 people on Easter Sunday.

The NetBlocks observatory says it detected an intentional nationwide blackout of popular services including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Sri Lankan officials said Sunday they are temporarily blocking social media to curtail the spread of false information and ease tensions until their investigation is concluded.

NetBlocks director Alp Toker says such post-attack shutdowns are often ineffective and can end up creating an information vacuum that's easily exploited. The group says the country is also blocking messaging apps.

Facebook says in a statement that people rely on its services to communicate with loved ones and it's committing to maintaining service in the country.

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The secretary general of the world's largest organization of Muslim nations has condemned the attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people on Easter Sunday.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation's chief Yousef al-Othaimeen described them as "cowardly attacks" that targeted innocent worshippers and civilians. Some 57 nations are part of the OIC, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jiddah.

Saudi Arabia also denounced the attacks in Sri Lanka and described them as "terrorist explosions," saying the kingdom extends its condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Sri Lanka.

Earlier Sunday, other Arab Gulf nations issued similar statements condemning the attack.

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The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is condemning "this great evil" that targeted Easter Sunday worshippers and others with deadly blasts in Sri Lanka.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo in a statement offers prayers for the victims and says the attack cannot "overcome the hope" found in the holiday.

The near-simultaneous explosions at churches and hotels killed more than 200 people. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack that Sri Lankan officials have blamed on religious extremists.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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