Sri Lanka police carry out controlled explosion near Colombo cinema

April 24 12:42 2019

Sri Lanka’s government on Wednesday acknowledged “major” lapses over its failure to prevent the horrific Easter attacks that killed more than 350 people, despite prior intelligence warnings.

The office of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was aware of comments linking Sri Lanka’s Easter bombings to the mosque attacks in Christchurch, but noted the investigation was “in its early stages”.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) on Tuesday claimed responsibility for Sunday’s deadly attacks Sri Lanka but did not back its claim up with any evidence.

The terror group has claimed responsibility for the carnage, and Sri Lankan authorities have also blamed two domestic Islamist groups with suspected ties to ISIS.

Via its Amaq news portal, it published the noms de guerre of seven people who it said carried out the blasts.

But the man in who stood in the middle of the group shown in the ISIS video – the only one not hiding his face – was Moulavi Zahran Hashem, a local Islamist hate preacher who was already known to Sri Lankan intelligence agencies.

The Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene confirmed the details at a press conference in the city.

It was revealed on Tuesday (23 April), that the devastating event involving several attacks in three churches and four hotels was a retaliation for the recent New Zealand mosque shooting.

ISIS has claimed the attack, although it did not provide direct evidence of its involvement.

Sri Lanka held a national day of mourning on Tuesday as the country’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that suspects armed with explosives could still be at large.

The UN said at least 45 children were killed in the attacks.

Alexis Boon, of the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: “We are specifically looking for images and footage taken at the scenes of the incidents in Sri Lanka, immediately prior to, during, or after the attacks on 21 April”.

She also called on everyone to pray for Sri Lanka, and the world in general, so that love and peace, and not terror and violence, be the choice in life.

Muslims make up about 10% of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist-majority population.

In one attack, a suicide bomber is caught on CCTV giving a little girl a pat on the head before walking into a packed church and blowing himself up.

Sri Lankan police sources have told AFP that two Muslim brothers, sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader, blew themselves up at the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon Grand hotels.

Sri Lankan authorities have started an investigation into how warnings about possible attacks were not passed to top ministers.

Wickremesinghe said the information had not been shared with him or the ministers while president said he had not been informed either.

BBC: “Sri Lanka attacks: “International network” linked to bombings” – “A wave of bombings that killed 290 people in Sri Lanka on Sunday was carried out with the support of an worldwide network, officials said”.

It came as more CCTV images emerged yesterday of one of the suicide bombers calmly walking up to St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo before detonating his device, killing more than 100 worshippers.

Officers of Special Task Force search for explosives ahead of mass burials in Negombo Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka police carry out controlled explosion near Colombo cinema
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