Catholic churches in Sri Lanka have canceled Mass services following coordinated terrorist attacks that targeted Christians and tourists on Easter Sunday. Subsequent investigations revealed that threats of terrorist attacks remained after the Islamic State (ISIS) avowed responsibility for bombings that claimed 253 lives. Authorities initially reported over 350 casualties but subsequently lowered that figure.
According to reports, the mastermind behind the attacks was a radical preacher who maintained a YouTube channel and pledged allegiance to ISIS. Authorities have since uncovered additional terrorist plots to commit violence in Sri Lanka.
Catholic Mass has been canceled indefinitely with widespread fear among the Catholic community. Several businesses and services remain closed and citizens are on alert stemming from assertions that government officials failed to act on intelligence reports of possible terrorist activity in the country. Soldiers have also reportedly exchanged fire with suspects linked to the attack.
The U.S. embassy in Sri Lanka also issued a warning against attending places of worship for the time being, further stoking fears that authorities have information indicating attackers are still at large. Despite warnings, Muslims worshipped inside mosques in Sri Lanka while armed police stood guard.
Christians appear to be the main target of the Easter attacks, with the majority of the casualties having been inflicted on worshippers gathered for service on Easter Sunday. Victim death tolls having been diminished by over a hundred illustrates chaos and panic following the bombings. Many of the suspects were killed carrying out suicide-bombing operations, and those involved are said to have received extensive military training.