On April 21, complex coordinated suicide attacks targeted several churches and Western hotels in Sri Lanka, resulting in at least 290 deaths and more than 500 injuries. At this time, the incident remains under investigation and no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks; however, police arrested at least 24 people. Additionally, Sri Lankan authorities temporarily blocked popular social media sites and apps, including WhatsApp and Facebook, to prevent the spread of disinformation.
The attacks began at approximately 8:45 a.m. local time and targeted several churches across the country, including in the capital, Colombo. Additional attacks targeted the Shangri-La, Kingsbury, and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the capital. More than two dozen of those killed are foreigners, including people from the United States.
During police raids at two locations in Colombo, additional explosive devices detonated, killing three officers. Additionally, authorities located and defused a ninth improvised explosive device (IED) near the capital’s Bandaranaike International Airport that evening. On April 22, police found 87 detonators in a private terminal of the main bus station in Colombo, and they discovered an IED in a van located outside one of the attack locations. The bomb squad attempted to diffuse the device, but it detonated.
There are no known or credible threats to New Jersey because of the attacks in Sri Lanka. The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) provides training in terrorism awareness and prevention, active shooter incidents, homemade explosives awareness and response, complex coordinated attack response, and New Jersey’s threat environment.
To assist religious facilities, NJOHSP shares information and resources through mechanisms such as the Interfaith Advisory Council. The Council brings together faith-based leaders and government representatives at the federal, state, and local levels. NJOHSP also provides free security training and facilitates nonprofit grant opportunities to improve facility security and develop training programs.
We encourage New Jersey’s residents to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement and NJOHSP by calling 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.