ISIS Claims Responsibility for Sri Lanka Attacks, Death Toll Rises to 359
Last updated on April 27th, 2019
Sri Lankan defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene claimed that one of the bombers who carried out the ruthless Sri Lanka attacks had studied in the UK and completed his post graduation in Australia.
On Wednesday during the press conference, Wijewardene said, “This group of suicide bombers, most of them are well-educated and come from middle or upper-middle class, so they are financially quite independent and their families are quite stable financially, that is a worrying factor in this.”
“Some of them have, I think, studied in various other countries, they hold degrees, LLMs [law degrees], they’re quite well-educated people,” he added.
He said that the authorities are still looking into the attacks that took place on Sunday, and they believe that there will be more arrests in the future.
The Defence Minister also added, “We can firmly say in the next couple of days our security agencies will have the situation of this country firmly under control.”
There is a massive rise in the death toll of victims of the Sri Lanka attacks. While the death toll was 310 on Tuesday, the figure reached the mark of 359 by Wednesday.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said that 18 people have been arrested since Tuesday, making the total count reach 58.
The suspect, named Zahran Hashim, has been identified to be affiliated with ISIS and responsible for the Sri Lanka attacks. Hashim’s name was also on the memo, which the Sri Lanka’s Deputy Inspector General of Police signed on April 11.
The memo read, “A certain foreign intelligence service has reported that the leader of the National Tawheed Jamath — NTJ, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran, also known as Zahran Hashim and his followers — have been planning for suicide attacks within Sri Lanka.”
The Islamic State claimed the responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks through their organisation’s Amaq news agency and provided the names of the suicide bombers as well.
The authorities investigating the attacks have informed the leaders of the country that many people having direct ties with the attacks are still at large and equipped with the explosives.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena declared that there would be change in the leadership of the defence forces “within 24 hours”. He also added that he would take “stern action” against the authorities responsible for not sharing warnings of Sri Lanka attacks with anyone.
US Embassy in Sri Lanka said that a team of FBI agents and US military officials are helping in the investigation. The assistance provided by the FBI is on the order of US President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in response to the claim of Wijewardene said, “We have nothing at this point to corroborate what has been said.”
Wijewardene previously claimed the Sri Lanka attacks were carried out as a reply to shooting on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand which claimed the lives of 50 people.
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