update 2: A ninth bomb found at the Colombo International Airport in Sri Lanka had reportedly sent the major international flight hub into lockdown for hours.
Local media, citing military officials, says it was successfully defused:
A spokesman for the Sri Lankan Air Force claims a massive PVC pipe packed with explosives was “discovered on the way to Colombo International and defused by the Air Force”.
All major social media networks were reported blocked in the country shortly after the series of eight bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels – mostly in Colombo – making information slow to come out.
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update: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said in a statement hours after the string of at least 8 coordinated bombing attacks as Easter services were underway that “several” Americans have been killed, though without giving specifics.
Local authorities have said further that 5 British nationals were killed, two of which had dual American citizens. Police are still attempting to identify some among the over 200 deceased, as Reuters reports:
“Altogether, we have information of 207 dead from all hospitals. According to the information as of now we have 450 injured people admitted to hospitals,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told reporters.
Three churches in various parts of the country and four hotels in Colombo were hit. At least 27 of the dead were foreigners, including five British people, two of whom had dual U.S. citizenship, and three Indians, according to officials in those countries.
Sri Lankan authorities have still not officially identified a culprit, nor have any militant groups claimed responsibility, this as multiple suspects were reportedly arrested in connection with the string of near simultaneous bombings of churches and luxury hotels, mostly in the capital of Colombo.
However, as Time reports:
News agency AFP says it has seen documents that show that Sri Lankan police have been on the alert for several days, fearing that suicide bombers from a local radical Muslim group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) were targeting prominent churches.
AFP also reported that Sri Lankan police seized a haul of explosives and detonators in January after arresting four men “from a newly formed radical Muslim group.”
A number of Sri Lankan Muslims were known to have joined ISIS in Syria, according to Reuters.
All major social media networks have been reported blocked in the country, making information slow to come out.