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Sri Lanka blasts updates- Imran Khan speaks to Sri Lanka PM; strongly condemns Easter attacks

Sri Lankan police said on Wednesday they had detained 18 more people for questioning over the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels, claimed by the Islamic State group. Follow updates here

By Agencies | Apr 25, 2019 00:14 IST

The blasts at hotels and churches have so far killed at least 359 people, the deadliest such event in south Asia’s history

Sri Lankan police said on Wednesday they had detained 18 more people for questioning over the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels, claimed by the Islamic State group.

ISIS made its claim after Sri Lankan officials said the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka were carried out in retaliation for attacks on two mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people in March.

Follow updates here

7:46 pm IST

Mortal remains of Indian who died in Sri lanka bomb blast brought to his residence

Telangana: Mortal remains of V Tulasi Ram, who lost his life Sri Lanka bomb blasts, brought to his residence in Hyderabad, today, reports news agency ANI.

 

4: 30 pm IST

Imran Khan speaks to Sri Lankan PM; strongly condemns attacks

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan telephoned his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe and strongly condemned the terror attacks on the Easter Sunday that killed 359 people and wounded more than 500 others.

3:32 pm IST

President asks police chief, defence secretary to resign: Report

Sri Lanka’s President has asked police chief and defence secretary to resign following Easter Sunday attacks - two sources close to president

2:57 pm IST

Most bombers were highly educated

Many of the suicide bombers who killed more than 350 people in a series of coordinated Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were highly educated and came from middle- and upper-middle-class families, the junior defense minister said Wednesday.

The attackers were breakaway members of a pair of obscure extremist Muslim groups, he said. Officials had earlier blamed one extremist group for the bombings.

“Their thinking is that Islam can be the only religion in this country,” junior Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters. “They are quite well-educated people,” he said, adding that at least one had a law degree and some may have studied in the UK and Australia.

The news came as leaders vowed to overhaul the country’s security apparatus after a series of intelligence lapses.

2:34 pm IST

Mortal remains of 9 Indians repatriated

The mortal remains of nine out of 10 Indians killed in the massive Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka have been sent to India, officials announced on Wednesday.

According to the authorities, 10 Indians have lost their lives in Sri Lanka’s worst terror attack that killed at least 359 people.

India’s High Commission here released the details of the repatriation of mortal remains of Indian victims in a series of tweets.

The victims include S R Nagaraj, H Shivakumar, K G Hanumantraiyappa, K M Lakshminarayana, M Rangappa, V Tulasi Ram, A Maregowda, H Puttaraju and R Lakshman Gowda, according to the Indian mission.

Four separate planes carrying the mortal remains of the nine Indians landed in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

2:19 pm IST

Foreign groups likely behind Sri Lanka attacks: US ambassador

The scale and sophistication of the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka suggested the involvement of an external group such as Islamic State, the U.S. ambassador to the country said on Wednesday as the death toll jumped to 359.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated bomb attacks on churches and hotels but gave no evidence to support that.

Sri Lankan officials have blamed two domestic Islamist groups with suspected ties to Islamic State. Details have begun to emerge of a band of nine, well-educated suicide bombers, including a woman, from well-to-do families.

“If you look at the scale of the attacks, the level of coordination, the sophistication of them, it’s not implausible to think there are foreign linkages,” the US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina Teplitz, told reporters in Colombo.

1:50 pm IST

CCTV shows bomber calmly entering Sri Lanka church

CCTV footage shows one of the suspected suicide bombers in Sunday’s Easter attack in Sri Lanka entering St Sebastian’s church in Negombo.

The 26-second video begins with a man carrying a backpack appearing to pat a little girl even as he talks to a man accompanying the girl and then steps away.

12:55 pm IST

Woman among 9 bombers: Defence minister

One of the nine bombers that detonated explosives in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday was a woman, deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters on Wednesday.

The blasts at hotels and churches have so far killed at least 359 people, the deadliest such event in south Asia’s history

12:55 pm IST

Sri Lankan officials deliberately withheld intelligence on attacks:Minister

Senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks on Sri Lanka, where a rash of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday killed at least 359 people, the leader of parliament said on Wednesday.

“Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions,” Lakshman Kiriella, who is also minister of public enterprise, told parliament.

He said information on possible suicide attacks on churches, hotels and politicians were received from Indian intelligence on April 4 and a Security Council meeting was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena on April 7, but the information was not shared more widely.

12:54 pm IST

US denies possessing advance intel on Sri Lanka attacks

The US ambassador to Sri Lanka has denied the United States had prior knowledge of the Easter militant attacks that it passed to the Colombo government, CNN television reported Wednesday.

“We had no prior knowledge of these attacks,” US ambassador Alaina Teplitz told the US channel in an interview on the suicide attacks on Sunday that killed 359 people, including at least four Americans.

A Sri Lankan minister had said earlier this week that India and the United States had provided information before the bombings on three churches and three hotels which authorities have blamed on a local Islamist group.

“Well I can’t speak for others. I don’t know what other sources of information the government of Sri Lanka might have had. I can just tell you that we had no prior knowledge,” the ambassador told CNN.

12:52 pm IST

60 people arrested

So far 60 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, police spokesman Ruwan Guansekera said.

Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, addressing a press conference here, accepted that there had been a major lapse in security arrangements.

“We (the government) have to take the responsibility. The President (Maithripala Sirisena) is planning to make some changes in the security establishments,” he said.

Intelligence suggested that the attackers were motivated by the Christchurch shootings, the minister said.

12:50 pm IST

Death toll at 359

The death toll in Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bomb attacks has risen to 359, police said on Wednesday amidst nationwide search operations to nab the perpetrators of the country’s worst terror attack.