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Death toll in Lanka attacks rises, more arrests

April 25, 2019

Police in Sri Lanka have said that the number of people killed in the Easter Sunday attacks has now risen to 359. More people have also been arrested. Eighteen suspects were arrested over Tuesday night, taking the number of detained to 58.

The prime minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe has also warned the public that more people armed with explosives are at large. Government officials say the suicide bombings at churches, hotels and other places was in retaliation for the attacks at two mosques in New Zealand last month.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that claim to show the attackers. purported to show the attackers. The extent of the terrorists' foreign links are being looked into.

New footage has appeared showing one of the suspected suicide bombers entering a church in Negombo. The 26-second video shows a man carrying a backpack appearing to pat a little girl even as he talks to a man with the girl and then steps away. As the man and little girl walk away, the suspected suicide bomber walks across the church yard. He can later be seen entering the church.

Meanwhile there are reports that India sent three alerts to Sri Lanka, including one on the day of the Easter Sunday attack. Speaking to the Indian media, intelligence officials said the first alert was sent on 4 April after National Investigation Agency (NIA) found videos of the terror group Thowheed Jama'at (NTJ)'s leader Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim while probing the Islamic State (IS) Coimbatore module.

Indian agencies told Sri Lanka that, apart from churches, the Indian High Commission in Colombo could be a target. The second alert was sent a day before the attack and was even more specific than the first one as it mentioned the possible targets. The last alert was sent hours before the suicide bombers attacked the three churches and four hotels.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister has admitted that the alerts had been sent by India. Speaking to a news channel, he said. "India gave us the intelligence but there has been a lapse on how we acted on that... intelligence was not conveyed down the line."

The Sri Lankan authorities evidently took the information lightly, and, in turn, sent out a nationwide alert only on 11 April.

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