Monday, January 17, 2022

Sri Lanka Blasts: 359 Dead, FBI Joins Probe, 58 Arrested

SRI LANKA- The US Embassy in Sri Lanka has said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was on the ground in the island nation to assist with its probe into the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that has left 359 people dead besides several hundreds injured.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz’s statement to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday came just hours before Sri Lankan Police put the death toll to 359 – way above the 321 that was quoted a day ago.

After a top Sri Lankan government official on Tuesday claimed that the bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre in March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday said she was unaware of any intelligence suggesting the Sri Lanka terror attacks were in retaliation for the Christchurch mosque shootings.

The Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that purported to show the attackers.

On Wednesday, among many revelations to foreign agencies, Sri Lanka Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said that leader of a local extremist group was also behind the attack.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka also confirmed to CNN that the US had no prior knowledge of the attack and had not issued any warning.

This contradicts what the Sri Lankan government had said.

Sri Lankan Minister Harsha de Silva told CNN on Monday that advance intelligence had been provided by “Both India and the US”. “We had no prior knowledge of these attacks,” the Ambassador said, adding, “The Sri Lankan government has admitted lapses in their intelligence gathering and information sharing.” Most of the Sri Lankan suicide bombers were “Well-educated” and it is believed that one of them studied in the UK, according to the Sri Lanka State Defence Minister, Reuters said in its report.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Sri Lankan Police carried out controlled explosion near Savoy Cinema in Colombo, Wijewardene said.

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