At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of suicide bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels, sending a wave of terror across the globe.
Eight explosions took place miles apart, three at Christian churches holding Easter services and three at hotels, some commonly used by Western tourists. In addition to those who were killed, at least 450 were wounded, according to officials with police, Colombo Hospital, and St. Sebastian Church.
Most of the explosions were detonated by suicide bombers, according to the Sri Lankan Defense Ministry.
At least 11 foreigners were confirmed in the attacks, including two victims who were dual citizens of the United States and United Kingdom. One American was also among the missing, officials said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Sunday that "several U.S. citizens were among those killed."
President Donald Trump has sent his condolences to the United States of America and the United States.
President Donald Trump sent his condolences to tweet from his mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the Easter holiday.
"The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka," the president tweeted. "We stand ready to help!"
138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more than 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We are ready to help!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2019
The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that "the United States condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that have claimed so many precious lives on this Easter Sunday. "
"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of more than 200 killed and hundreds of others wounded," Sanders said in the statement. "We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they bring the perpetrators of these deceptive and senseless acts to justice."
There were eight simultaneous explosions around 8:45 am. local time Video from the inside of St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a coastal city about 40 miles north of Colombo, showed the immediate aftermath of a bombing there as worshipers who had just been praying for peace found themselves surrounded by devastation, death and chaos.
There were about 500 people at the Easter Mass at St. Sebastian when the explosion took place, according to officials of the church. The parishioners, many bleeding, were scrambled to carry severely injured people from the church, which was littered with overturned chairs, shattered glass and debris that had fallen from the ceiling.
A statue in the sanctuary of Jesus Christ was left pockmarked and splashed with blood but remained standing.
St. Anthony's Shrine, a Catholic church in Colombo, and the Zion Church, in Batticaloa, were also attacked. Colombo is located on the western side of Sri Lanka, while Batticaloa is on the eastern shore of about 200 miles from the capital.
I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [ofSriLanka
Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel, all located in Colombo – and all popular with tourists – were targeted in the bombings The Associated Press reported that an explosion occurred near the overpass in the area of Dematagoda near Colombo.
Hours after the initial bombings, a ninth explosion occurred at a guest house in Colombo that killed at least two people, according to police.
On Sunday night, at 10:15 local time, a 6-foot-long was detected on a road near Colombo International Airport. Air force spokesman Gihan Seneviratne told ABC News that the country's air force has begun a controlled explosion.
Police chief warned of attack
The wave of bombings came after the Sri Lankan police chief issued a nationwide alert 10 days ago that suicide bombers planned to attack "prominent churches," according to several reports.
"Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. So, there was a delay in action." "What's my father heard was also from intelligence officer. Serious action must be taken on why this warning was ignored," Harin Fernando , a member of the parliament in Sri Lanka, tweeted Sunday and included a document he says is the security warning.
Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from intelligence officer. Serious action should be taken as to why this warning was ignored. I was in Badulla last night pic.twitter.com/ssJyItJF1x
– Harin Fernando (@fernandoharin) April 21, 2019
Pope Francis prays for the victim
Following the Easter Mass in St . Peter's Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis condemned the "cruel violence" that "have wrought grief and sorrow."
"I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka]wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all such victims of such cruel violence," said Pope Francis. "I entrust to the Lord all those who have been tragically perished, and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event."
The officials who spoke to ABC News were able to confirm at least 24 people were killed at St. Anthony's Church, 27 died at Batticaloa's Zion Church and 81 died at St. Sebastian Church
The explosions were followed by the wail of the siren from emergency vehicles headed to multiple 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 of injuries suffered in the attacks and that 260 were being treated, Gunasekara said. At the Negombo Hospital, 104 people were reported dead and 100 of the injured were being treated, he said.
Another 37 people were pronounced dead at Kalubowila, Batticaloa and Brown's hospitals. Eighty-nine people were treated at those medical centers, Gunaskekara said.
Authorities confirmed that three British citizens, in addition to the two with dual American citizenship, were among the dead amongst one Portuguese citizen, three Indian and two Turkish nationals.
"It's a very, very sad day for all of us. I therefore wish to express my deepest sorrow and sympathy to all those innocent families who have lost someone, and also those who have been injured and rendered destitute, "Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said at a news conference. "I would like to call on everyone to pray that all those who are injured may be healed soon and that all these families who lost someone may be consoled.
"I condemn to the utmost of my ability 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 in their own hands and to maintain peace and harmony in this country. And I also ask that all those who can donate blood to help these wounded people, and then I also appeal to the doctors to please help us. "
Several suspects arrested
Secretary of State Pompeo said the U.S. The Embassy in Sri Lanka is working to provide assistance to American citizens affected by the attacks, including their families.
"These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism," Pompeo said in his statement. "We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they confront violent extremism and have offered our help as they work to bring perpetrators to justice."
Buddhism is the most common religion in Sri Lanka. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka documented the growing number of attacks on Christians in 2018, saying there were 67 from January to September.
Sec Defense and I am at the Kochchikade Church. Also was at ShangriLa n Kingsbury. PM is on his way from Bentota. Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway. Please stay calm and indoors. Many casualties including foreigners.
– Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) April 21, 2019
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Gunasekara, the police spokesman, said at a news conference that several people were arrested, clarifying the earlier report from the Associated Press that seven suspects were taken into detention. As of early Monday, 24 individuals were detained.
Sri Lankan security personnel walk past the rubble outside the Zion Church after a spate in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019.
Gunzakara also said that several raids were carried out as police worked to identify those responsible for the carnage. “/> (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP / Getty Images) Sri Lankan security personnel walk past the rubble outside the 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 comment on a possible motive.
Sri Lanka has been at times one of the most dangerous places in the world for terrorist attacks. A civil war that raged for decades between the ruling government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – known as the Tamil Tigers or LTTE – officially ended in 2009, but some conflicts continued. As many as 100,000 people were killed in the civil war from 1982 to 2009, according to U.N.
The U.K. government warns travelers about the risks posed by those visiting the country.
"Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka can not be ruled out," the government advises on its website. "Attacks could be incriminating, including in places visited by foreigners."
The U.S. lists Sri Lanka as a Level 1 country, the lowest risk level that warns travelers to exercise normal precautions.
The country was also divided 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 be reinstated in December.
"I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today," Wickremesinghe said in a tweet. "I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid spreading unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation."
Security was increased across Sri Lanka, including Colombo's international airport. Authorities also imposed an indefinite national curfew from 6 pm to 6 a.m. and temporarily blocked major social media and messaging services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, to curb what government officials described as misinformation from being spread.
U.S. security boosted
The bombings sent shockwaves all the way to the United States, where security was bolstered at churches coast to coast.
In California, the Los Angeles Police Department boosted patrols around places of worship. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the State Police to increase security at churches and houses of worship across the state.
"New York grieves for the victims of the horrific 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 condolences to the people of Sri Lanka, to the families who lost loved ones and to all those who grieving around the world.
"In the aftermath of these despicable acts of violence and out of abundance of caution, I am directing the State Police to increase patrols around churches and houses of worship throughout the state today," Cuomo said. "During these troubling times, we will not be intimidated by cowardly acts of violence and will continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers."
A U.S. The intelligence bulletin issued last week and received by ABC News has raised serious concerns that U.S. law enforcement generally has in anticipation of high-profile holidays or gatherings, especially Easter, Passover and Ramadan. But the bulletin said there was no evidence of a confirmed attack planned in the United States or the U.S. facilities elsewhere.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security "are not aware of any specific, credible threats surrounding the upcoming religious holiday season, but note that previous attacks have occurred with little to no warning," read the intelligence bulletin issued on Thursday.
"Religious holiday gatherings are an attractive destination for HVEs [homegrown violent extremists] and domestic extremists, because they offer an opportunity to capitalize on large crowds and increased symbolism of the target," the bulletin reads.
ABC News' Kirit Radia, Josh Margolin and Alex Stone contributed to this report.