Sri Lanka has held its first mass funeral amid a day of mourning for the victims of Sunday’s bomb blasts. The death toll from the attacks on churches and hotels has risen to 321 with about 500 wounded, police said.
A state of emergency is in effect to prevent further attacks. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed the attack on Tuesday via its news outlet. Sri Lanka’s government has blamed the blasts on local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ).
Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack. A spokesman said they included a Syrian who was arrested “after the interrogation of local suspects”.
The mass funeral for about 30 victims took place at St Sebastian’s church in Negombo, north of Colombo, which was one of the places targeted in Sunday’s blasts.
An initial probe into deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka shows it was “retaliation for Christchurch,” the country’s deputy defence minister said Tuesday.
“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.
Fifty people were killed in shooting attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15.
Meanwhile, Muslim brothers carried out two of the hotel suicide blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, part of a wave of bombings that killed more than 320 people, police sources told AFP Tuesday.
The sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader were among suicide bombers who hit three churches and three luxury hotels, investigators said. An attack on a fourth hotel failed and helped lead police to the Islamist group now blamed for the assault, they added. -Agencies