A total of 290 persons died in the Sri Lankan church attacks.
For Sri Lankan Christians, the joy associated with Easter celebrations swiftly turned into grief when suicide bombers conducted coordinated attacks on three upscale hotels and three churches. A total of 290 individuals were slaughtered and 500 injured. The targeted churches were jam-packed with worshippers when the bombs detonated. A U.S. State Department official confirmed that a minimum of four Americans lost their lives in the attack.
The attacks have led Sri Lankan security officials to anticipate and search for several other possible targets. They soon located an improvised bomb at an airport and detonators at a specific bus terminal. The Government of Sri Lanka initially released conflicting information about who could be responsible for such bombings. A few officials said that it is the handiwork of a local faction, while others hinted at a global network of terrorist organizations. A government spokesperson admitted to having received multiple warnings before the terrorist attacks but did not act on them. The government was warned on the actions of National Tawheed Jamath, a radical Islamic group that supports a worldwide jihadist movement.
Experts opine if the attacks were found to be religiously motivated, the events will be recorded as one of the bloodiest sectarian attacks during the recent decades in Sri Lanka, a nation where civil war stopped in 2009. One church which was attacked, the Zion Church, still contains the remains of things dropped when people fled the scene or upended from the blast. The floor was strewn with Bibles and debris. A few hymnals were also seen. Over 28 worshipers, including 12 children, were killed. Another 27 were injured at the Zion church site. The two other churches attacked by terrorists are Catholic, Kochchikade’s St. Anthony’s Shrine and Katana-located St. Sebastian’s Church. All three churches and three Colombo hotels suffered near-simultaneous bomb blasts at around 8:45 a.m. Edmond Tillekeratne, the Archdiocese of Colombo’s social communications director, told the media this attack is against Sri Lanka as a whole due to the fact that the island nation is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious construct and the entire country unites to celebrate Easter Sunday.
We stand with our Christian brothers and sisters in #Srilanka. My heart goes out to all the bereaved families. This is truly tragic.
— ADIL AKBAR ツ (@AdilSa1992) April 23, 2019
Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 individuals who are believed to be connected with the attacks. Further details, however, were not released. Colombo’s Catholic Archdiocese canceled evening services, and the Sri Lankan army has increased its presence at churches.