Sri Lanka terror attack: Death toll RISES to more than 350 after Easter Sunday massacre
At least 359 people are said to be dead after a series of hotels and churches were targeted on the holy day. Police say that further arrests have also be made as the authorities continue their major investigation into the circumstances of the attacks. The latest update comes after chilling CCTV footage was released showing a bomber pat a child on the head before towards a church.
The killer was then seen entering the building before he later detonated the device at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo.
Sri Lanka’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attacks were “carried out in retaliation” for the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch in March.
He said: “The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch.”
On Tuesday, Sri Lanka held a national day of mourning after the coordinated suicide blasts.
Reports suggest more than 500 others have been injured in the explosions.
More than 1,000 mourners gathered at the St. Sebastian church in the coastal city of Negombo, just north of the capital, Colombo, where more than 100 parishioners were killed as they worshipped on Sunday morning.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Sri Lanka who led the service, urged other churches to delay memorials amid fears that more bombers may be at large.
He said: “The security forces have not cleared the situation yet. There could be more attacks on public gatherings.
“I urge priests to not conduct any services at churches until I notify.”
To aid the investigation, the country was granted emergency powers were put in place to allow the Sri Lankan police and military to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
A government minister has blamed militant group National Thawheed Jama’ut for the attacks.
But the Islamic State group have also claimed responsibility for the atrocities although their claims are not yet verified.
Sri Lankan police are currently investigating whether previous warnings of the attack were ignored or missed.
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