ISIL claims Sri Lanka attacks via propaganda arm

ISIL claims Sri Lanka attacks via propaganda arm

COLOMBO- Reuters
ISIL claims Sri Lanka attacks via propaganda arm

ISIL on April 23 claimed a series of bombings that killed more than 359 people in Sri Lanka.

"Those that carried out the attack that targeted members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday are Islamic State group fighters," said a statement released by ISIL propaganda agency Amaq.

U.S. intelligence sources before said the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of ISIL.

Devastating Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were retaliation for recent deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand, a Sri Lankan official said on April 23, adding that two domestic radical groups were believed to have been behind April 21’s blasts.

Officials said the attacks were carried out by at least seven suicide bombers, on three churches and four hotels. The toll rose to 359 dead with about 500 people wounded.  

"The initial investigation has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack," junior minister for defense Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.

He did not elaborate on why authorities believed there was a link to the killing of 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers on March 15. A lone gunman carried out those attacks.

Wijewardene said two Sri Lankan radical groups - the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim - were responsible for the blasts during Easter services and as high-end hotels served breakfast.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament investigators were looking into foreign links.

Sri Lankan government and military sources said a Syrian had been detained among 40 people being questioned over the bombs.

April 23 was declared a national day of mourning and the funerals of some of the victims were held, as pressure mounted on the government over why effective action had not been taken in response to a warning this month about a possible attack on churches by the little-known National Thawheed Jama'ut group.

The first six attacks- on three churches and three luxury hotels- came within 20 minutes.

Two more explosions- at a downmarket hotel and a house in a suburb of the capital, Colombo- came in the early afternoon.

Most of the dead and wounded were Sri Lankans, although government officials said 38 foreigners were killed. That included British, U.S., Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

The U.N. Children's Fund said 45 children were among the dead.

Bodies of two Turkish citizens, who lost their lives in Sri Lanka bombings, have been brought to Turkey, a diplomatic source said on April 23.          

Bodies of engineers Serhan Selçuk Narıcı and Yiğit Ali Çavuş were sent to their hometowns - Istanbul and Adıyaman- for funerals, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restriction on speaking to media.

Also, the richest man in Denmark has lost three children in the Sri Lanka terror attacks, his spokesperson confirmed on April 22. Anders Holch Povlsen, 46, is a fashion mogul, one of the names behind global retail giants ASOS and Bestseller.

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