Nearly 300 people were killed and around 500 others were injured in eight coordinated attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday — one of Christianity’s holiest days. The death toll continues to rise, with at least 290 people dead as of Monday morning, according to police.
Three churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa, and three Colombo hotels were among the locations that were attacked. Officials believe the attacks were conducted by people wearing suicide bombs, and many suspect the organization had outside help, which enabled them to carry off coordinated bombings on opposite sides of the country.
National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a small Islamist terrorist organization, has been identified by the Sri Lankan government as the group behind the assault. Though no one has come forward yet and claimed responsibility for the attacks, at least 24 people are in custody.
Since the attack, police have imposed two 12-hour curfews, spanning from nightfall to sunrise local time. The Sri Lankan government also temporarily cut off access to Facebook and WhatsApp as a way to halt misinformation.
Sri Lanka’s prime minister was abroad when the attacks happened, but tweeted a statement condemning the “cowardly attacks on our people” and requesting unity. Authorities had intelligence the terrorists planned to target churches with suicide attacks, according to reports, but it appears that nothing was done about it.