At 0845 Sunday morning, coordinated Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka brought fear and death to the nation’s minority Christian community. The attacks consisted of a coordinated bomb attack in the major cities of the country. The bombings appear to have been timed to specifically target Christian worshippers attending Easter services.
[THIS POST “Easter Sunday Terrorist Attacks In Sri Lanka” WAS UPDATED AT 551 am APRIL 24]
Churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa coincided with four additional blasts at hotels in the nation’s capital. Additional explosions followed later in the day on various targets within the nation’s capital of Colombo.
The current death count stands at more than 350 people, with another 500 wounded, placing this among the most violent terrorist attack in the world since September 11, 2001.
A nationwide curfew was called by the Sri Lankan government. Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media networks have been suspended in the country to block the flow of false information. Churches across the country canceled Easter services as panic spread.
Early government reports suggest all of the bombings were carried out by suicide bombers. The Tamil Tigers, a militant group in Sri Lanka, were among the first to popularize suicide bombings during the modern era, but this violence has been largely resolved since 2009 and the nation has enjoyed a time of relative peace and stability.
The little known Islamic group National Throwheeth Jama’ath was the lead suspect early on in the investigation. This suspicion was based upon prior threats and warnings from the group. More than 60 suspects have been arrested so far in connection with the terrorist attack.
On Tuesday the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. A video was released showing Mohammed Zaharan and a band of masked disciples. pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Zaharan was previously known to Sri Lankan authorities as the leader of a small Islamic extremist fringe group within the country.