Sri Lanka government officials are blaming National Thowheed Jamath, a local jihadist group, for a cooridinated series of attacks carried out across the country Easter Sunday, Bloomberg reports.
The attacks consisted of seven suicide bombers that targeted Christian churches and hotels frequented by foreign tourists. The death toll from the blasts is sitting around 290, while those injured number at least 500, CNN reports.
“There had been several warnings from foreign intelligence agencies about the impending attacks,” Sri Lankan Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at press conference, according to Bloomberg. “Persons named in intelligence reports are among those arrested. Some named in the reports had died during attacks.”
The Sri Lankan government has admitted to receiving multiple warnings before the attacks were carried out. At least one warning mentioned the terror group National Thowheed Jamath by name.
Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando tweeted out intelligence memos from April 11 that reportedly say the terror group was planning to attack Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission.
Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to 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
“We saw the warnings and we saw the details given,” Senaratne said, according to CNN. “We are very very sorry, as a government we have to say — we have to apologize to the families and the institutions about this incident.”
The government has pledged to investigated failures in its intelligence community to preempt the attacks, Senaratne said.
The coordinated series of bombings killed several Americans, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Sunday.
“Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security,” Pompeo said.
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