Sri Lanka Easter Sunday attacks: what we know

Security forces keep watch over St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo.
Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

Over 300 people were killed and around 500 others were injured in eight coordinated attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

The death toll continues to rise, with at least 321 people dead as of Tuesday morning, according to the state minister of defense. Among the deceased were 39 tourists, including American citizens.

The Sri Lankan government has identified National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a small Islamist terrorist organization, as the culprits behind the assault. ISIS, the terrorist group President Donald Trump says was defeated in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack. It’s worth being skeptical of this claim, though, as ISIS tends to say it had a hand in devastating terrorist attacks without evidence.

Sri Lanka’s state minister of defense also said that the attack was carried out in retaliation for the March attack on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. However, the official provided no further detail or evidence.

Authorities had intelligence the terrorists planned to target churches with suicide attacks, according to reports, though it appears that nothing was done about it. Many suspect the organization had outside help, which enabled them to carry off coordinated bombings on opposite sides of the country. At least 24 people are in custody in relation to the attacks.

As a way to halt misinformation, the Sri Lankan government temporarily cut off use to Facebook and WhatsApp.

It’s possible the devastation could’ve been worse — a six-foot pipe bomb was reportedly found near the airport hours after the initial wave of attacks.

Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, released a statement on Sunday condemning the “cowardly attacks on our people” and asked “all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong.”

US President Donald Trump also joined other international leaders in offering his sympathy to Sri Lanka, saying: “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”

Christians are a minority in Sri Lanka, and the majority of Christians in the country are Roman Catholic. Easter is one of Christianity’s holiest days, and many Sri Lankan Christians were worshipping at church when the attacks took place.

The coordinated bombings mark some of the worst violence the country has seen since the end of its civil war a decade ago.

What we know

What we don’t know

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