Picture emerges of well-to-do young bombers behind Sri Lankan carnage

Saul Bowman
April 25, 2019

Ambassador Alaina Teplitz made the remarks Wednesday to foreign journalists at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also defense and law and order minister, pledged Tuesday to make "major changes in the leadership of the security forces in the next 24 hours".

It wasn't immediately clear who would replace them.

The attacks at three churches occurred as worshippers attended Easter services on Sunday.

The death toll in Sri Lanka following several bomb blasts on Sunday has risen to 359 while another 500 people are wounded.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told reporters Wednesday that an additional 18 suspects were arrested during a series of overnight raids, raising the total number of detainees in connection with the bombings to 58.

Sri Lankan authorities had earlier blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. It came after ISIS supporters circulated unverified photographs claiming to show three of the suicide bombers who targeted churches and hotels on Easter Sunday. Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers' foreign links.

Wijewardene said numerous suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-to-do families. London's Sky News reported that it had confirmed Lathief's name both from security sources both in the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.

The president has launched an investigation into why the details had not been shared. His name was first reported by Sky News.

It emerged on Wednesday that the FBI was on the ground in Sri Lanka to help assist the investigation. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

Teplitz called that breakdown in communication among Sri Lankan officials "incredibly tragic".

"We believe (the attack) was carried out by an extreme Islamist group as a reprisal to the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand", Mr Wijewardene said.

A shoe of a victim is seen in front of the St Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019.

Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency, with police using special wartime powers to look for suspects.

National Thowheeth Jama'ath's spiritual leader Zahran Hashim was reportedly one of the suicide bombers at the Shangri-La Hotel.

"There are still explosives and militants out there and the police are looking for them".

An Australian white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was arrested in the Christchurch shootings.

The country observed a national day of mourning Tuesday, beginning with a three-minute silence, as the bereaved began to bury their dead.

Most of the victims were Sri Lankan and from the nation's Christian minority.

Nearly 10 years after the end of a brutal civil war between the Tamil Tiger separatist group and the government, Sri Lanka has been plunged into violence yet again.

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