Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday “several” US citizens died in a series of explosions in Sri Lanka that killed at least 290 people and left 500 injured. That toll was expected to rise.
Thirty-six foreigners were reported to be among those killed in attacks which targeted churches and hotels and were thought to have been caused by suicide bombers. No group immediately claimed responsibility. Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people.
In a statement around noon US eastern time, Pompeo said: “While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several US citizens were among those killed. The US embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families.”
The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said two US-UK dual nationals, three Britons, one Dutch national, three Indians, one Portuguese, three Danes and two Turks were among the dead.
A spokesperson for the Sri Lankan national hospital said citizens of the US, Denmark, China, Japan, Pakistan, Morocco, India and Bangladesh were among casualties.
Pompeo added: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter morning. 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.
“The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishes a quick recovery to all who were injured.”
On Sunday morning, Donald Trump tweeted the message that “the United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”
The president’s first tweet on the subject was deleted after it misstated the reported death toll at the time, 138, as 138 million.
Vice-president Mike Pence tweeted he and Trump were “monitoring the horrific attacks on those celebrating Easter in Sri Lanka”.
“This atrocity is an attack on Christianity [and] religious freedom everywhere,” he wrote. “No one should ever be in fear in a house of worship.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement: “We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they bring to justice the perpetrators of these despicable and senseless acts.”