A Colorado man and a fifth grader from Washington, D.C., have been identified as two of the Americans killed in Sunday’s terror attacks in Sri Lanka that left at least 290 people dead and more than 500 others injured.
Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, who was a student at the elite private school Sidwell Friends that the Obama daughters and Chelsea Clinton attended, was killed in one of the blasts, the school said in a letter obtained by local media.
The boy had been on a leave of absence from the school and was temporarily living and studying in Sri Lanka.
“Kieran was passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and he was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends this coming school year,” the letter read in part. “We are beyond sorry not to get the opportunity to welcome Kieran to the Middle School.”
Another victim, Dieter Kowalski, 40, of Denver, was identified by his employer. Kowalski was traveling for work for a British-owned education services company when he was killed in an explosion at his hotel in Colombo.
On Friday evening, Kowalski posted on Facebook that he was looking forward to his trip abroad while preparing to depart the Denver International Airport.
“And the fun begins. Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!” his post read.
Kowalski, who worked as the senior leader of Pearson’s operation technical services team, had just arrived at his hotel when the attack occurred, Pearson CEO John Fallon stated in a letter to employees on Monday.
“Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was. They tell of a man to whom we could give our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems, knowing full well that he would jump straight in and help us figure it out,” Fallon said in his letter shared on LinkedIn.
“We’re angry that a good man, who took simple pleasure in fixing things, has been killed, along with many others, by evil men and women who know only how to destroy. But in our anger and despair, we remember the words of Queen Elizabeth II in the aftermath of 9/11. Grief, she said, is the price we pay for love,” he added.
Friends and colleagues of Kowalski shared similar sentiments on social media, with one man sharing a recent photo of Kowalski on his birthday while describing him as “a great guy and a great friend.”
Sri Lanka’s government on Monday accused a local Islamist extremist group of carrying out the string of bombings against three churches and three hotels. Police said 24 people have been arrested, all of whom were Sri Lankan, but no further details were given, Reuters reported.
Most of those killed or wounded were Sri Lankans although government officials said 32 foreigners were killed. Those fatalities include British, U.S., Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday confirmed that “several” U.S. citizens are among the dead.
“The U.S. Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families,” he said while condemning the violent acts.
“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,” he said.
This story has been updated to include Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa among the victims.