India, US warn of fresh terror attacks in Sri Lanka
- Author: Jon Douglas Apr 26, 2019,
Apr 26, 2019, 0:27
"This is another experience for us".
"We believe [the massacre] was carried out by an extreme Islamist group as a reprisal to the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand", Sri Lanka's state minister for defence Ruwan Wijewardene said in a statement to parliament.
Approximately 250 people were killed wounded in the string of suicide bombings at churches and luxury hotels in and around the capital, Colombo, Sri Lanka's health ministry said.
Their comments come as reports emerged that one of the bombers was let go by police after being arrested earlier at some point.
When police went later that day to raid the family home, his younger brother Ilham Ibrahim detonated a bomb that killed him, his wife and the couple's three children, the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Police have confirmed to CNN that they are holding the brothers' father, Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader, on suspicion of aiding and abetting his sons.
At least 20 are dead from the six blasts, authorities have said.
"People are scared. They are in a vulnerable position and don't have basic facilities", said Herman Kumar from Unity of Negombo Citizens, a group trying to foster communal harmony in the city.
A Sri Lankan parliamentarian with the prime minister's United National Party has also called for a ban on burqas, a type of traditional Muslim attire. On Wednesday, Wijewardene, the junior defense minister, said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaat and another group, which he identified only as "JMI".
Mr Wijewardene said numerous suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-to-do families.
Alan Kennan, Sri Lanka Senior Analyst for the NGO International Crisis Group, told Newsweek that in the Catholic-majority area of Negombo emotions were running over.
The bombers were wealthy enough to have financed the entire operation themselves, though they would have needed outside help for training and bomb-building expertise, Wickremsinghe said. That video showed photos of three of the alleged suicide bombers.
Sri Lanka's tourism industry, which accounts for around five per cent of the country's GDP, is likely to suffer due to the Easter blasts.
The warning of possible new attacks came from the national police inspector general's office, which circulated a letter Thursday to other police agencies saying that the same groups that carried out the Easter blasts had threatened to attack mosques where Muslim religious leaders are buried.
Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe a year ago only to be forced to reinstate him under pressure from the Supreme Court and their relationship is reported to be fraught.
Sri Lanka still faced more attacks and authorities were now targeting "sleepers" - terrorists who could activate to initiate another round of bombings, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned Thursday. Perhaps worldwide media outlets have been describing him as obscure and unknown because that is what Sri Lankan officials are telling them, but he was actually on their radar screens long before the Easter attacks.
Some people "had become suspicious of foreigners, not of Muslims per se", Mr Wickremesinghe, said.
A Tuk Tuk driver is stopped at a checkpoint in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as an army officer searches a vehicle search on Thursday.