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Sri Lanka bombings: 290 dead, hundreds of injured in the church, hotel explosions on Easter Sunday

At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed a coordinated series of suicide bombers that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels and sent a wave of terror worldwide. Eight explosions took place in miles apart, three at Christian churches with Easter and three at hotels, commonly used by Western tourists. In addition to those killed, at least 450 people were injured, according to police officers, Colombo Hospital, and St. Sebastian Church. Most explosions were interrupted by suicide bombers according to Sri Lanka's defense department. <img src = "https://s.abcnews.com/images/International/sri-lanka-easter-blast-01 -gty-jef-190421_hpEmbed_3x2_992.jpg" alt = "The Sri Lankan security personnel survey damages at St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. [19659005] Sri Lankan Security Staff Survey Damages at St. Anthony's Shrine After an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. At least 11 foreigners were confirmed killed in the attacks, including two victims who were double citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom. An American was also among the missing, officials said. US. State Secretary Mike Pompeo confirmed on Sunday that "several US citizens were among the dead." All foreigners died in attacks on hotels in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, an island nation outside India's southern tip in the Indian Ocean, according to officials. President Donald Trump sent his compassion to the country on an early morning tweet from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he spends Easter holidays.…

At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed a coordinated series of suicide bombers that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels and sent a wave of terror worldwide.

Eight explosions took place in miles apart, three at Christian churches with Easter and three at hotels, commonly used by Western tourists. In addition to those killed, at least 450 people were injured, according to police officers, Colombo Hospital, and St. Sebastian Church.

Most explosions were interrupted by suicide bombers according to Sri Lanka’s defense department.

<img src = “https://s.abcnews.com/images/International/sri-lanka-easter-blast-01

-gty-jef-190421_hpEmbed_3x2_992.jpg” alt = “The Sri Lankan security personnel survey damages at St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. [19659005] Sri Lankan Security Staff Survey Damages at St. Anthony’s Shrine After an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

At least 11 foreigners were confirmed killed in the attacks, including two victims who were double citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom. An American was also among the missing, officials said.

US. State Secretary Mike Pompeo confirmed on Sunday that “several US citizens were among the dead.”

All foreigners died in attacks on hotels in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, an island nation outside India’s southern tip in the Indian Ocean, according to officials.

President Donald Trump sent his compassion to the country on an early morning tweet from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he spends Easter holidays.

“The United States offers compassion to the great people of Sri Lanka,” said the president. “We are ready to help!”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement that “The United States strongly condemns the outrageous terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka which have claimed so many precious lives on this Easter Sunday. “

“Our cordial condolences go out to the families of the over 200 killed and hundreds of other wounded,” Sanders said in the statement. “We stand with the Sri Lankan government and the people they have at their disposal the perpetrators of these despicable and pointless acts.”

There were eight simultaneous explosions around 8:45 am local time. Video from inside St. Sebastian’s church in Negombo, a coastal town about 40 miles north of Colombo, showed immediate aftermath of a bombing where, as worshipers who had just asked for peace, were surrounded by devastation, death and chaos.

There were about 500 people at the Easter Mass in St. Sebastian when the explosion took place, according to Church officials. Parishioners, many bleeds, were distorted to carry seriously injured people from the church, which were filled with turned chairs, broken glass, and debris that had fallen from the ceiling.

A statue in the sanctuary of Jesus Christ was left pockmarked and sprinkled with blood but remained.

St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Catholic Church in Colombo and Zion Church, in Batticaloa, was also attacked. Colombo is located on the west side of Sri Lanka, while Batticaloa is located on the eastern shore about 200 miles from the capital.

(Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP / Getty Images) Sri Lanka’s police are on the scene of an explosion in a restaurant area at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

I want to express my heartfelt proximity to the Christian community [inSriLanka

Shangri-La Hotel, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the Kingsbury Hotel, all located in Colombo – and all popular with tourists – were focused on bombing. An explosion occurred near an overpass in Dematagoda near Colombo, the Associated Press reported.

Hours after the first bombings, a ninth explosion occurred at a Colombo guest house that killed at least two people, according to police.

On Sunday evening, at 10:15 local time, a 6 foot long road was discovered on a road near Colombo International Airport. The country’s air force initiated a controlled explosion, said Air Force spokesman Gihan Seneviratne to ABC News.

Police chief warned against attack

The wave of bombing came after police chief of Sri Lanka issued a nationwide warning ten days ago that suicide bombers planned to attack “prominent churches,” according to several reports.

“Some intelligence officials were aware of this occurrence. Therefore, there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action must be taken into account why this warning was ignored,” Harin Fernando, a Sri Lankan MEP, tweeted Sunday and included a document that he says is the security alert.

Pope Francis asks for the victim

After the Easter Mass in St Pafers square in The Vatican condemned Pope Francis the “cruel violence” that “has made grief and grief”.

“I want to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [in Sri Lanka] hurt as it gathered in prayer and to all victims of such cruel violence,” Pope Francis said. “I assign to the Lord all those who have been tragically lost, and I pray for the injured and all who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”

Officials talking to ABC News could confirm at least 24 people killed at St. The Anthony Church, 27 died in Batticaloa’s Zion Church and 81 died in St. Sebastian’s Church.

The explosions were followed by difficult by sirens from emergency vehicles that led to the many bombing scenes.

Ruwan Gunasekara, a police spokesman, said that in addition to the 207 killed, about 450 people were injured, overwhelming hospitals throughout the island nation.

The National Hospital in Colombo reported that 66 people had died there from injuries suffered by the attacks and 260 were treated, Gunasekara said. At Negombo Hospital, 104 people were reported dead and 100 of the injured were treated, he said.

Another 37 people were killed in Kalubowila, Batticaloa and Brown’s hospital. Eighty-five people were treated at these medical centers, Gunaskekara said.

The authorities confirmed that three British citizens, apart from the two with dual American citizenship, a Portuguese citizen, three Indian and two Turkish citizens were among the dead.

“It is a very sad day for all of us. I therefore want to express my deepest sorrow and compassion for all the innocent families who have lost someone, and also for those who have been injured and made harmless,” Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop by Colombo, said at a press conference. “I would urge everyone to pray that all the injured can heal soon and that all those families who lost someone can be comforted.

“I condemn most of my capacity to this act that has caused so much death and suffering to the people,” Ranjith said. “I ask all of us Sri Lankan people not to take the law into their own hands and maintain peace and harmony in this country. And I also ask that anyone who can donate blood to help those people who are injured, and then I also appeal to the doctors to help us. “

Many Suspects Arrested

State Secretary Pompeo said the US Embassy in Sri Lanka is working to provide assistance to US citizens affected by the attacks, including their families.

“These smelly attacks are a strong reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our struggle to defeat terrorism,” Pompeo said in his statement. “We stand with the Sri Lankan government and the people as they confront violent extremism and have offered our help as they work to perpetuate the perpetrators.”

Buddhism is the most common religion in Sri Lanka. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance in Sri Lanka documented the growing number of attacks on Christians in 2018 and said there were 67 from January to September.

(St. Sebastian’s Church) An explosion rocks St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday April 21, 2019.

No one has considered responsibility for the attacks. But Gunasekara, police spokesman, told a press conference that several people had been arrested, clarifying a previous report by the Associated Press that seven suspects were being held in custody. As of Monday, 24 people had been detained.

Gunasekara also said that several raids had been performed when the police worked to identify those responsible for the carnage.

(Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP / Getty Images) Sri Lankan security personnel pass by garbage outside Zion church after an explosion in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.

Gunasekara said it was too early to say who was behind the attack or commenting on a possible motive.

Dangerous History

Sri Lanka has sometimes been one of the most dangerous places in the world for terrorist attacks. A civil war that raged for decades between the ruling government and Tamil Eelam’s liberation tigers – known in any case as Tamil Tigers or LTTE – was officially closed in 2009, but some conflicts have continued. As many as 100,000 people were killed in the civil war in 1982 to 2009, according to the UN

(AP Photo / Eranga Jayawardena) in the armies of Sri Lanka protect the area around St. Anthony’s Shrine after a storm in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019.
(St. Sebastian’s Church) An Explosion Cradle St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday, April 21, 2019.

The US government warns travelers about the risks faced by those visiting the country.

“Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka cannot be ruled out”, giving government advice on its website. “Seizures can be discriminatory, including in places visited by foreigners.”

(AP Photo / Eranga Jayawardena) People gather outside St. Anthony’s Shrine where an explosion occurred in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lankan hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people.

The United States lists Sri Lanka as a level 1 country, the lowest risk level, which warns travelers to exercise normal precautions.

The country was also split by a constitutional crisis at the end of 2018 when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was removed by the country’s president in October, only to resume in December.

“I strongly condemn the fat attacks on our people today,” said Wickremesinghe in a tweet. “I urge all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Avoid spreading unverified reports and speculation. Government is taking immediate action to contain this situation.”

Security increased over Sri Lanka, including Colombo International Airport. The authorities also introduced an indefinite country-wide curfew until 6:00 am and temporarily blocked large social media and messaging services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, to limit which officials are described as erroneous disclosures.

US. security reinforced

The bombings sent shockwaves all the way to the United States, where security was strengthened at the churches coast to the coast.

In California, the police department of Los Angeles increased patrols around religious sites. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the state police to increase the security of churches and houses of worship over the state.

“New York pigs for the victims of the terrible attacks in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday,” Cuomo said in a statement. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest compassion to the people of Sri Lanka, to the families who lost their near and to all who are lurking around the world.

“In the wake of these contemptuous acts of violence and out of an abundance of caution, I govern the state police to increase patrols around churches and houses of worship throughout the state today,” Cuomo said. “During these troubled times, we will not be intimidated by cowardly acts of violence and continue to do everything we can to ensure the security of all New Yorkers.”

A US intelligence bulletin issued last week and received by ABC News raised ongoing serious concerns that US law enforcement generally has in anticipation of high-profile holidays or gatherings, especially Easter, Easter and Ramadan. But the bulletin said there was no evidence of a confirmed attack planned in the US or US facilities elsewhere.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security “are not aware of any specific, credible threats of the upcoming religious holiday, but note that previous attacks occurred with little or no warning,” the intelligence service issued on Thursday .

“Religious holiday gatherings are an attractive target for HVEs [homegrown violent extremists] and domestic extremists because they offer an opportunity to capitalize on large crowds and increased symbolism for the goal,” reads the bulletin.

ABC News & # 39; Kirit Radia, Josh Margolin and Alex Stone contributed to this report.

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