The Sri Lankan Police on Wednesday said the toll in the serial blasts in the island nation on Easter Sunday has climbed to 359, reported CNN. At least 10 Indians have died in the attacks.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday warned of more attacks, reported BBC. He said some people with explosives were still on the run.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the serial bomb blasts. However, the group did not provide any evidence of its involvement. Wickremesinghe said the attacks may have links to the Islamic State group. “We will be following up on IS claims, we believe there may be links,” he said, adding that the government was monitoring Sri Lankans who had joined the terrorist outfit.
There was a clear warning about the attacks on April 11, reported AP. In a letter, Deputy Inspector General of Police Priyalal Disanayaka had said: “A local group is planning a suicide terror attack against churches in Sri Lanka.”
He told the directors of four Sri Lankan security agencies that the National Thawheek Jaman was planning a suicide attack in the country. Disanayaka attached an intelligence report also that named six individuals likely to be involved in the plot. The police has arrested 40 suspects, including the driver of a van that was allegedly used by suicide bombers involved in the blasts.
Sri Lanka had declared a state of emergency on Monday, a day after the attacks. All government schools in the island nation will remain closed till April 29, said Education Minister Akila V Kariyawasam, according to IANS. He added that all universities will also remain shut till further notice. At least 45 children were killed in the blasts.
No links to Christchurch shootings, says New Zealand
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday said her government did not have any intelligence input that the attacks in Sri Lanka were in retaliation to the deadly shootings in Christchurch. On March 15, as many as 50 people were killed in the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“We understand the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages,” Ardern’s spokesperson told Reuters over an email. “New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based.”