Trump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings

Trump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE on Monday called Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country deals with the aftermath of church and hotel bombings a day earlier that killed nearly 300 people.

ADVERTISEMENT

"President Trump pledged United States support to Sri Lanka in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and the leaders re-affirmed their commitment to the fight against global terrorism," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Wickremesinghe updated Trump on the progress of the investigation into the attacks, Gidley said.

Trump told reporters at the White House Easter Egg Roll that the attacks were "unthinkable" and that he'd spoken with the prime minister and "various government officials."

"We are working with Sri Lanka, but that’s a terrible thing," he said.

Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon that he'd spoken Sunday with Wickremesinghe earlier in the day to express his condolences and "inform him that the United States stands by him and his country in the fight against terrorism."

The president had offered "heartfelt condolences" to Sri Lanka on Sunday morning as reports of the attack first emerged.

The Sri Lankan government has blamed an obscure local Islamist terror group known as National Thowheeth Jama-ath for the suicide bombings, which struck on Easter Sunday.

Sri Lankan security forces were warned days in advance that the group was planning attacks against churches, but did not take action, The New York Times reported. Top government officials said they never received the warning. 

Authorities on Monday said that the death toll from the bombings stood at 290 people, and more than 500 were injured.

In a statement issued Sunday following the attacks, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoChinese state media: Wuhan conducted 6.5 million coronavirus tests in 9 days The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE said “several” Americans had been killed. The State Department has not provided a specific number, and the identities of the victims have not yet been released.

Pompeo told reporters early Monday that he had spoken to Wickremesinghe earlier in the day. Asked whether the attacks illuminated the ongoing threat of ISIS, Pompeo said the bombings underscored that "radical Islamic terror remains a threat."

Updated at 2:43 p.m.