Sri Lanka: More than 200 Killed as Catholic Churches and Tourist Hotels Targeted in Bomb Attacks

Sri Lanka: A string of at least eight explosions ripped through three Catholic churches and three high-end hotels filled with tourists, killing more than 200 and injuring many more on Easter morning. Sri Lanka’s police chief issued an alert to top officers ten days ago warning that Muslim suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but there has been an increase in persecution and threats against Christians from the Muslim and Buddhist populations. One of the alleged suicide bombers behind the attacks has been identified as Zahran Hashim, who previously made a video declaring declaring: “Anyone who disagrees with Muslims should be killed.” -GEG

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. 

* * *

updateUS 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

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. 

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