Sri Lanka names suspected group behind coordinated deadly Easter bombings, says it had prior warning

St. Sebastian Church in Sri Lanka after terrorist attack
(Image credit: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka's government said Monday that a coordinated series of bombings that killed at least 290 people and wounded 500 on Sunday had been carried out by seven suicide bombers from National Thowfeek Jamaath, a little-known Islamist militant group. All the bombers and most of the victims were Sri Lankan, the government said, though authorities are investigating possible foreign links to the attack. At least 24 people were arrested.

The first six bombings hit three Christian churches holding Easter services and three luxury hotels. Among the dead were 32 foreigners from the U.S., Britain, Turkey, India, China, Portugal, and the Netherlands; Danish billionaire Anders Hoch Povlsen said three of his four children died in the attacks.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe confirmed Sunday night that security services had been "aware of information" about a possible attack on churches and had not acted on it. An April 11 domestic intelligence report seen by Reuters said a foreign intelligence service had warned Sri Lanka about possible attacks. Two government ministers also said publicly that there had been warnings, some specific to popular churches.

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The Easter bombings were the deadliest incident in Sri Lanka since a 26-year-long civil war ended in 2009 between the country's mostly Buddhist Sinhalese majority and its Tamil minority, made up of Hindus, Christians, and Muslims. "While anti-Muslim bigotry has swept the island in recent years, fed by Buddhist nationalists, the island also has no history of violent Muslim militants," The Associated Press reports. "The country’s small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment in recent years."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.