News ID: 251814
Published: 0306 GMT April 23, 2019

Sri Lanka arrests 40 after Daesh-claimed bombings as death toll tops 320

Sri Lanka arrests 40 after Daesh-claimed bombings as death toll tops 320


As a state of emergency took effect Tuesday giving the Sri Lankan military wartime powers, police arrested 40 suspects after the Sunday coordinated bombings in the country.

The arrested suspects included the driver of a van allegedly used by suicide bombers involved in the deadly Easter bombings and the owner of a house where some of them lived, officials said, AP reported.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka, the terrorist group’s Amaq news agency said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The terrorist group did not give evidence for its claim.

The death toll from the Easter Sunday bomb attacks rose to 321, with several people dying of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said on Tuesday, adding 500 were also injured.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena gave the military a wider berth to detain and arrest suspects – powers that were used during the 26-year civil war but withdrawn when it ended in 2009.

On Tuesday, which the president declared a day of mourning, Sri Lankan authorities planned to brief foreign diplomats and receive assistance from the FBI and other foreign intelligence-gathering agencies after officials disclosed Monday that warnings had been received weeks ago of the possibility of an attack by terrorists.

The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday were the South Asian island nation’s deadliest violence in a decade.

The government blocked most social media to curtail false information. Even after an overnight, nationwide curfew was lifted, the streets of central Colombo remained mostly deserted and shops closed as armed soldiers stood guard.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could unleash instability and he vowed to “vest all necessary powers with the defense forces” to act against those responsible.

In an indication of the tensions, three explosions caused panic but apparently no injuries Monday as police were defusing bombs inside a van parked near one of the stricken churches. Dozens of detonators were discovered near Colombo’s main bus depot, but officials declined to say whether they were linked to the attacks.

On Tuesday, grieving Sri Lankans began to bury their dead and the country was observing a day of national mourning, AFP reported.

Three minutes of silence were marked nationwide from 8:30 a.m. (0300 GMT), the time the first suicide bomber struck on Sunday, unleashing carnage at three hotels and three churches packed with Easter worshippers.

Flags were lowered to half-mast on government buildings.


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