Vice President Mike Pence condemned the Easter Sunday church and hotel bombings in Sri Lanka as an attack against the Christian faith and affront to religious freedom.
“[President Trump] and I are monitoring the horrific attacks on those celebrating Easter in Sri Lanka. Our hearts & prayers are with the victims & their families. This atrocity is an attack on Christianity & religious freedom everywhere. No one should ever be in fear in a house of worship,” he said in a tweet.
More than 200 people are dead and at least 450 more are injured after a coordinated series of bombings at three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka. It is not clear who is responsible for the terror attacks, although it is believed that the attackers were targeting Christians in the island nation, which is a little more than 7% Christian.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in a statement Sunday that “several” American citizens were among those killed in the attacks. At least 35 of those killed in the attacks were foreigners from a number of countries.
“The U.S. embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families,” Pompeo said. “These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism.”
Pope Francis condemned the “grave attacks” Sunday and urged for prayers.
“I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence,” Francis said. “I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event.”
Police say 13 suspects are being held in connection to the Sunday morning bombings. Three police officers searching for the attackers were killed during a raid at an apartment complex. Sri Lanka is temporarily blocking major social media services in order to curb the spread of misinformation.
Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith canceled all evening Easter services in churches across the country.