Sri Lanka releases pictures of 6 suspects of Easter serial blasts, including 3 women: As the Sri Lankan police intensified their search and arrested 16 people, taking the number of those under custody to 76, they have released photographs of six suspects, including three women, wanted for their involvement in the deadly Easter attacks that killed over 253 people.
It is believed that nine suicide bombers who executed a series of devastating blasts are the members of a local terror group called National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). The attack tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.
Explosions were also reported from three five-star hotels — the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand, and the Kingsbury in Colombo.
On Thursday, the police released the names and pictures of the suspects and sought information regarding them from the public. Many of the arrested people have suspected links to the NTJ, the group blamed for the bombings.
However, the Islamic State or the ISIS had claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks without providing any major evidence on last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan authorities have revised the death toll from Easter Sunday’s string of bombings down to 253 people from the previous estimate of 359. The Director General of the Health Services said the larger death toll was released as a result of a calculation error.
Authorities have deployed thousands of troops to help police carry out search operations. As per reports, over 5,000 army personnel have been deployed around the country.
Military spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said, “During the last 24 hours, there have been no major incidents. We have deployed over 6,300 troops. This includes 1,000 from the Airforce and 600 from the Navy.”
Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, a fresh explosion was reported in Pugoda on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo. Police said the explosion was reported in a garbage dump behind the Pugoda Magistrate’s Court.
Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the police was investigating the matter adding that it was not a controlled explosion like other blasts in recent days.
Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the head of the local Catholic church, has asked all churches to stop masses until the situation improves.
The country’s deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene had earlier told the parliament that an initial probe into deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka revealed it was a “retaliation for Christchurch.”
Meanwhile, India has been learned to have sent as many as three alerts before the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka, the last one being sent just hours before the carnage.