Thu, 28 May 2020

Sri Lanka attacks: Death toll mounts to 359

24 Apr 2019, 16:55 GMT+10

Colombo [Sri Lanka], Apr 24 (ANI): The death toll in the multiple bomb blasts that rocked Sri Lanka during Easter celebrations has risen to 359, country's Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters here on Wednesday.

"The death toll has risen to 359, out of which 39 are foreign nations. 17 bodies of foreign nations have been identified and released to their families. The investigation is still being conducted by forces and intelligence agencies," said Wijewardene.

Clearing on the suspected explosion near Savoy cinema in Colombo on Wednesday, the deputy defence minister said that it was a controlled blast carried out by Sri Lankan police.

"It was not a bomb. The Special Task Force had detected a suspicious motorbike and went up to it. They tried to open the seat but it got stuck, so they decided to have a controlled blast," said Wijewardene.

On being asked about whether the Islamic state was behind the attack, the deputy defence minister said, "We are still conducting those investigations to see whether there is a direct link to any international organizations."On Tuesday, the Islamic State (ISIS) had claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Eight explosions rattled various suburbs in the Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo, Kochchikede and Batticaloa as the Christian community celebrated Easter Sunday on April 21.

Sri Lanka is in a state of emergency in the aftermath of the bombings. All schools have been shut down till Wednesday, as the authorities continue their search and rescue operations. (ANI)

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