As one funeral procession followed another Tuesday in Sri Lanka government officials raised the death toll from Sunday’s bombings to 359.
A whole new cemetery had to be hastily dug to bury more than a hundred victims.
This, as ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks showing pictures purported to be of the seven suicide bombers.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said Tuesday that investigators were making good progress in identifying the culprits, and he added that some of-of the bombers had travelled abroad and returned home before carrying out the attacks. At least 40 suspects had been taken into custody for questioning as of Tuesday, all of them Sri Lankan nationals.
Sri Lanka’s defence minister says it appears the bombings Sunday that left 321 people dead were a retaliation against the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand; and that a local militant group, with help from an international network, was likely responsible.
The leader of the local group, a known extremist, who has been preaching hateful messages online in recent years.
Forty people have been arrested for interrogation suggesting the government knew where key members of the group could be found. Sri Lankan authorities are under attack for not acting aggressively ahead of the bombings, having received warnings of a possible threat as many as ten days before it happened.
Government officials in Sri Lanka say they were warned two weeks ago of a terrorist plot to target churches and hotels, and given the names of suspects five days later. The president’s chief of staff said, “We never expected it to be so big, we never thought it would happen so soon.”
No Canadians killed in the attacks
The death toll from the suicide bombings has risen to 290 with another 500 wounded. Churches and hotels were the targets.
Three police officers were killed in an explosion during a Sunday afternoon raid on a house in the capital Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s Health Minister has blamed a domestic militant group for the attacks.
Twenty-four people have been arrested, all of them Sri Lankan.
Meantime, a van parked near a Sri Lankan church that was bombed has exploded. No injuries have been reported. A witness has told Reuters the blast came as authorities tried to defuse a bomb.
Deadly explosions in Sri Lanka.
Eight blasts hit locations including churches and hotels across Sri Lanka, leaving at least 207 people dead and 450 injured.
Police say they have arrested three people so far. Several others were taken in but not questioned.
Hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens were among the dead, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man also died, the country’s LUSA news agency reported.
I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) April 21, 2019
More attacks on places of worship where people are most vulnerable, this time in Sri Lanka. The victims were simply and peacefully attending #EasterSunday services like many of us are doing this morning. #Barrie #Innisfil #cdnpoli #onpoli https://t.co/Kpgq7QQX3R— John Brassard (@JohnBrassardCPC) April 21, 2019
Absolutely horrific news from Sri Lanka. Canada strongly condemns the heinous attacks on Christians at churches and hotels. Our hearts & thoughts are with the families & loved ones of those killed and all those injured.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 21, 2019
1/2 Canada extends its condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in today’s attacks on churches and hotels in #SriLanka and we wish a swift recovery to those injured. To target people at prayer on Easter is despicable. We condemn these cowardly acts.— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) April 21, 2019
2/2 Affected Canadians in need of assistance are advised to contact Global Affairs Canada by email at email@example.com or call +94 (11) 532-6232.— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) April 21, 2019
The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 21, 2019