Christian leaders from across the globe have joined in condemning the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in which more than 200 people were killed and more than 450 injured.

Among the targets were churches and hotels.

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A relative of a victim of the explosion at St Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church, reacts at the police mortuary in Colombo. PICTURE: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Pope Francis told those gathered in St Peter's Square on Easter Sunday that it was with "sadness and pain" he had learnt of the attacks.

"I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence," he said.

Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said in a statement that the WCC "strongly condemn[ed]" the attacks and offered "our heartfelt prayers" for all those affected.

“As a global fellowship of churches, we stand in special solidarity with the Christians of Sri Lanka who have been attacked in this vicious way while celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the pivotal moment in the faith journey for all Christians.”

Tveit described the targeting of churches as "an attack on religious peace and harmony and on the social and cultural fabric of the nation, which has long struggled to uphold principles of religious harmony and diversity".

“Such acts of violence undermine the sanctity of life and constitute a sacrilege in many senses. Even as we cry out against this sacrilege, we resolutely affirm that violence must not beget violence. In the spirit of the love of Christ, on this Easter Day, we hold fast to the belief that violence, hatred and death will not have the last word.”

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said those affected "will be in the prayers of millions marking Easter Sunday around the world".

"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."

Dhiloraj Canagasabe, the Anglican Bishop of Colombo and a member of the WCC's Central Committee, said the Church of Ceylon "unreservedly condemns these cowardly and cruel acts of terrorism and conveys our deep condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and have been hurt".

"We wish all those who have been injured full recovery. We pray for them and their families  that God’s comforting presence will continue to be with them through this tragic experience."

The bishop called for a "thorough investigation" and appealed to the Sri Lankan Government "to ensure the safety of places of religious worship and to prevent any individuals or group from taking the law into their hands  or provoking acts of intimidation or violence against any community or group".