A series of bombings across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday have left at least 290 people dead. At least 500 others have been injured and the death toll may rise further. The bombings occurred at eight different sites across the country and the State Department is warning that terrorist groups may be planning additional attacks.
No group has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the attacks. Three churches were targeted by the bombings, as were luxury hotels. The three churches include Colombo’s historic St. Anthony’s Shrine, the St. Sebastian’s church in Negombo, as well as the Zion Church in Batticaloa.
The Kingsbury hotel, the Cinnamon Grand hotel, and the Shangri-La hotel were also hit. Most of the victims were Sri Lankans; however, at least 37 internationals were also killed. Americans, British, Australians, Turkish, Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese, Indians, and Danes have been reported among the victims.
Sri Lankan officials are worried that the bombings could spark violence. Up until 2009, bombings were relatively common in Sri Lanka, with most of the attacks being carried out by Tamil separatists. It’s unclear if the bombers were affiliated with any particular religion or group.
Reports indicate that the government was aware of the potential attacks and even had the names of the bombers as early as April 4th. However, President Maithripala Sirisena, who oversees the Defense portfolio, appears to have failed to act and didn’t share the information with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
Tensions have been high between Wickremesinghe and Sirisena. The government has pledged to cover funeral costs and to provide funds to rebuild churches and other destroyed sites.