At least 290 people were confirmed dead and more than 500 others were wounded in a series of coordinated bombing attacks targeting Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.
Three churches and three hotels in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo were rocked by explosions Sunday morning, CBS News reports.
The government blamed a little-known Islamist militant group National Thowheeth Jama’ath or NTJ for the attacks Monday, The New York Times reported. At least 24 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
Officials said the group had never carried out any serious attacks and believe they were aided by an international terrorist group.
At least 39 foreigners were among those killed, including four Americans.
“There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded,” said Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne.
No group has publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Government was warned 10 days earlier:
A top Sri Lankan police official warned the country’s security forces that a radical Islamic group planned to stage suicide attacks on churches 10 days before the bombings, The Times reports.
No action was taken against NTJ after the warning. It’s unclear if security agencies took other precautions.
Senaratne said that forces were warned as early as April 4 and said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his allies were “completely blind on the situation” amid a power struggle between him and President Maithripala Sirisena.
“We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken,” Wickremesinghe said.
US warns of additional attacks:
The US State Department issued a warning that terrorist groups “continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka.”
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas,” the warning says.
Four Americans were killed in the attacks, as were three children of Anders Holch Povlsen, the richest man in Denmark.
The attack also killed citizens of India, Portugal, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Japan.