Nearly three hundred people were killed and some 500 injured as bombs ripped through churches and hotels on Easter Sunday primarily in and around Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. It was the deadliest violence the country has suffered since its bloody civil war ended ten years ago.
Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district were targeted by suicide bombers during Easter services. Explosions also rocked the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the capital. Two more explosions were reported later in the day at separate locations near Colombo.
The Sri Lankan government said the attacks were likely perpetrated by local militant group National Thowfeek Jaamath, a little-known radical Islamist organization. More than 20 members have been arrested by authorities.
In addition to Sri Lankans at least 39 foreigners were among the dead, including several Americans.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned “in the strongest terms the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter morning.” He said, “Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security.”
In a written statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders extended America’s “heartfelt condolences” to the families of those killed and wounded. She added, “We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they bring to justice the perpetrators of these despicable and senseless acts.”
“These vile attacks,” said Secretary Pompeo, “are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism. We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they confront violent extremism and have offered our assistance as they work to bring the perpetrators to justice.”