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Sri Lanka bombings: ISIS claims responsibility for attacks that killed 321

Mirror logo Mirror 23-04-2019 Chris kitching

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(Provided by The Economic Times)

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka suicide bombings that killed 321 people - including eight Britons - and injured 500 others.

The terror group claims "the executors of the attack that targeted citizens of coalition states & Christians in Sri Lanka two days ago were with ISIS".

Sri Lanka's government has blamed two domestic Islamist extremist groups for carrying out the attack, but believes they had help from foreign militants.

The early findings of the investigation have found that the attacks were committed in revenge for the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, a month ago, a junior minister told parliament.

It had been speculated that a group such as ISIS could have provided support to the domestic extremists, and one of the groups had been described as a branch of the terror group recently driven out of its final bastion of territory in Syria.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message posted Tuesday by its Amaq propaganda agency. It did not provide any evidence to support its claim.

Both ISIS and al-Qaeda had called on revenge attacks after the Christchurch terror shootings.

© Reuters

US intelligence sources had earlier told Reuters the Sri Lanka attacks carried some of the hallmarks of Islamic State.

Sri Lankan police have arrested 40 people as part of the investigation into the bombings of three churches and three hotels, and one was a Syrian national, a source told Reuters.

The source said: "The terrorist investigation division of the police arrested a Syrian national following the attacks for interrogation.

"He was arrested after interrogation of local suspects."

Police told AFP that a fourth hotel was to be attacked by the plan failed.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament investigators were looking into foreign links as pressure mounts on the government over why authorities failed to act on warnings of possible Easter attacks by militants.

Mass burials were under way on a national day of mourning amid fears further attacks could be carried out.

Police in Colombo, the capital, have warned the public to be on alert for a lorry and a van believed to be packed with explosives.

In an address to parliament, state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said the bombings were carried out by local Islamist extremists in retaliation for the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand.

Fifty Muslim worshippers were shot dead, allegedly by a white supremacist gunman, in the terror attacks on March 15.

Mr Wijewardene told a special sitting of parliament: "The initial investigation has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack.

"It was done by National Thowfeek Jamaath along with JMI (Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim)."

In response to Mr Wijewardene's statement, a spokesperson for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her office "has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based".

Terrorism experts have said the Sri Lanka attacks would likely have required months of planning.

Mr Wijewardene has proposed banning the NTJ.

Seven of the eight Britons who were killed have been identified.

Londoner Matthew Linsey's daughter Amelie, 15, and son Daniel, 19, were killed in one of two blasts at the Shangri-La hotel.

They were on the final day of their holiday.

Mr Linsey, 62, has told how he was forced to make the heart-wrenching decision of which injured child to save only for both to die.

Ben Nicholson, 43, lost his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, when one of seven suicide bombers struck as they ate breakfast at the Shangri-La.

GP Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop, a retired firefighter, from Manchester, died in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel bombing.

The couple had been living in Perth, Australia, and were moving back to the UK soon after buying a retirement home in the Cotswolds.

Also watch: Sri Lanka govt apologizes over attack warnings

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(Video provided by Associated Press)

In pics: Scenes from the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday explosions

(Slideshow provided by USA Today)

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