UPDATE: ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka bombings

Death toll rises to 359

Wednesday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Monday

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.

Sunday

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.