Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony Shrine, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)


THE Daesh (Islamic State) group on Tuesday (23) claimed a series of bombings that killed more than 320 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 Daesh propaganda agency Amaq, reported Reuters.

US intelligence sources had earlier said the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of Daesh militant group.

At least 310 people were killed after suicide bomb blasts ripped through three hotels and three churches as worshippers attended Easter services on Sunday.

On Tuesday (23), they were remembered with three minutes of silence that started at 8:30am (0300GMT), the exact time that the first of six bombs detonated.

On Monday, the Sri Lankan government said they believed a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.

Senaratne, who is also a cabinet minister, added that the government was investigating whether the group had “international support”.

“We don’t see that only a small organisation in this country can do all that,” he said.

“We are now investigating the international support for them, and their other links, how they produced the suicide bombers here, and how they produced bombs like this.”

Documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka’s police chief issued a warning on April 11, saying that a “foreign intelligence agency” had reported NTJ was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.

Not much is known about the NTJ, a radical Muslim group that his been linked to the vandalising of Buddhist statues.

There were fears the attacks could spark a renewal of communal violence, with police reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.

Sri Lanka had been at war for decades with Tamil separatists but extremist violence had been on the wane since the civil war ended 10 years ago.

The South Asian nation of about 22 million people has Christian, Muslim and Hindu populations of between about eight and 12 percent.

(AFP, Reuters)