[UPDATE] According to CNN, the death toll has risen to approximately 207, not all of whom are from Sri Lanka. Citizens from the U.K., the United States, China, Denmark, and Portugal, among others, are allegedly among the dead.
More world leaders have sent out messages condemning the attack, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo specifically noted that there were indeed American victims:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter morning. 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.
The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishes a quick recovery to all who were injured. While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several U.S. citizens were among those killed. The U.S. Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families.
These vile attacks 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.
The attacks were allegedly carried out by suicide bombers, according to Intelligencer. The outlet claims that officials in Sri Lanka have detained as many as 13 suspects.
[Original Story Below]
On Sunday morning, as people began their Easter celebrations, a series of six explosions rocked three churches and three hotels across the nation of Sri Lanka. Two more explosions occurred later in the day.
The reported death toll hasn’t been standard across news agencies, however, conservative estimates have placed it somewhere between 130 and 150, while other sources suggest that more have been killed. Most news agencies are reporting that at least 500 have been injured.
The targeted churches were in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa, according to The New York Times, while the targeted hotels, the Cinnamon Grand, the Kingsbury, the Shangri-La, and the Topical Inn, are all within Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo.
The attacks appear to be coordinated, despite the explosions spanning a distance of more than 130 miles from Batticaloa to Negombo and Colombo.
According to AFP, an alert was sent out on April 11 by Sri Lankan Police Chief Pujuth Jayasundara, stating: “A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NJT (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo.”
The outlet adds that the NJT is “a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka.” The information regarding the terrorism warning allegedly comes from “documents seen by” the news agency.
The Guardian reports that Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene has issued a statement claiming to have identified the suspects.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions to keep this country safe and the people safe,” Wijewardene said. “We believe that all the culprits who have been involved in this unfortunate terrorist incident will be taken into custody as soon as possible. They have been identified, and they will be taken into custody as soon as possible.”
Despite the minister’s remarks, neither the identities of those responsible for the horrific attacks, nor their affiliations, have been released to the public.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has sent out a tweet condemning the attacks, and asking that citizens refrain from spreading “unverified” information:
I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.
Reuters reports that a curfew has been put in place and that access to several social media sites has been “blocked” in Sri Lanka following the attacks.
As security in the nation tightens, world leaders have condemned the attacks and voiced support for the Sri Lankan people.
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, tweeted: “Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.”
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tweeted: “The peace of Easter shattered by the senseless and cowardly attacks on Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka. We send our love and sympathy to the families of the victims and pray the injured have a speedy recovery.”
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: “The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practice their faith in fear.”
This is an ongoing report, and it will be updated as relevant information becomes available.