At least 207 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of suicide bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels, and sent a wave a terror across the globe.
The explosions took place miles apart, and the targets included three Christian churches holding Easter services and three hotels, some commonly used by Western tourists. In addition to those who were killed, at least 450 were wounded, according to officials with police, the Colombo Hospital, and St. Sebastian Church.
Most of the explosions were detonated by suicide bombers, according to the Sri Lankan Defense Ministry.
At least 11 foreigners were confirmed killed in the attacks, including two victims who were dual citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom. One American was also among the missing, officials said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Sunday that “several U.S. citizens were among those killed.”
All of the foreigners died in attacks on hotels in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern tip of India in the Indian Ocean, according to the officials.
President Donald Trump sent his condolences to the country in an early morning tweet from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the Easter holiday.
Eight simultaneous explosions erupted about 8:45 a.m. local time. Video from inside the St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a coastal city about 40 miles north of Colombo, showed the immediate aftermath a bombing there as worshipers who had just been praying for peace found themselves surrounded by devastation, death and chaos.There were about 500 people at the Easter Mass at St. Sebastian when the explosion took place, according to officials from the church. Parishioners, many bleeding, scrambled to carry severely injured people from the church, which was littered with overturned chairs, shattered glass and debris that had fallen from the ceiling.
A statue in the sanctuary of Jesus Christ was left pockmarked and splashed with blood but remained standing.
St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Catholic church in Colombo, and Zion Church, in Batticaloa, were also attacked. Colombo is located on the western side of Sri Lanka, while Batticaloa is on the eastern shore about 200 miles from the capital.The wave of bombings came after the Sri Lanka police chief issued a nationwide alert 10 days ago that suicide bombers planned to attack “prominent churches,” according to multiple reports.
“Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore, there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored,” Harin Fernando, a member of parliament in Sri Lanka, tweeted Sunday and included a document he says is the security warning.