Sri Lanka, the number of Easter dead rises to 359. Sirisena ‘kept in the dark’ about threats

Indian intelligence agencies had issued three terrorism alerts. The prime minister admits that the information was not transmitted. The Islamic State publishes the photo of the seven bombers. 40 people arrested.


Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Following the Easter massacres in three churches and three Sri Lankan hotels, President Maithripala Sirisena announced a rapid restructuring of the country's intelligence apparatus, accusing that no one had informed him of the danger of attacks . The toll of the most serious attack in recent years has risen to 359 victims and over 500 wounded hospitalized in very serious conditions.

Yesterday the first funeral was held in the church of St. Sebastian in Negombo. All attacks were claimed by militants of the Islamic State (IS) on Amaq, the Caliphate’s official media agency, although the Colombo government suspects that the primary responsibility is of two local Islamic groups.

The photo shows the image of the seven suicide bombers: Abu Ubaida, Abu al-Mukhtar, Abu Khalil, Abu Hamza, Abu al-Barra, Abu Muhammad and Abu Abdullah.

Colombo believes the attackers were affiliated with the National Thowheed Jamath (Ntj) and the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, and acted with the support of foreign forces.

Meanwhile, Indian intelligence services have announced that they have issued three terrorism warnings in the weeks before the attacks, which have been ignored by Sri Lankan leaders. The first warning dates back to April 4; the last one a few hours before the explosions.

The Indian intelligence services warned Colombo about the activities of Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim, leader of the NTJ, which had explored the possibility of creating a faction of IS between South India and Sri Lanka. In a television interview, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe admitted that "India gave us the information, but then there was a gap in the processes ... and the information was not transmitted".

For organization and loss of life, the attacks were compared to the attack against the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th 2001. The first six bombs exploded on the morning of April 21st, while Easter masses were underway in the churches and in the crowded restaurant area of hotels. In the late morning a seventh bomb exploded near the zoo in Dehiwala; in the early afternoon, the eighth bomb exploded in the Dematagoda area during some police checks. The following day the investigators found 87 devices ready to explode in the Colombo international airport. At present the authorities have arrested 40 suspects.

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