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Only locals could not have carried out Colombo bombings: Sri Lankan minister

By Anuj Cariappa
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Colombo, Apr 23: A local outfit identified as the National Thawheed Jamaat is suspected of plotting the deadly Easter blasts that killed 290 people and wounded 500 others in the worst terror attack in the country's history, a top Sri Lankan minister said.

Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lankas capital on Easter Sunday

Health Minister and the government spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, also said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.

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Speaking at a press conference here, the minister said that the Chief of National Intelligence had warned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) regarding the probable attacks before April 11.

"On April 4, international intelligence agencies had warned of these attacks. The IGP was informed on April 9," Senaratne said.

"We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country," Senaratne said, adding that there was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.

Live updates: Sri Lanka bombings

He said that the local outfit identified as the National Thawheed Jamaat - a radical Muslim group - is suspected of plotting the deadly explosions.

Senaratne sought resignation of police chief Pujith Jayasundera in view of the major security lapse.

Rauff Hakeem, a government minister and the leader of the main Muslim party - Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said that it was lamentable that no preventive action had been taken despite the inputs.

"They have known this..., the names have been given, identified, but (they) took no action," he added.

Two Sri Lankan Muslim groups - the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama and the National Shoora Council - have condemned the blasts and offered condolences to the Christian community.

They have urged that all culprits be brought to book.

Colombo bombings: How fate caught up to the suicide bombers

Seven suicide bombers were involved in eight blasts that targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in Negombo and Zeon Church in Batticaloa when the Easter Sunday mass were in progress. The explosions also struck three five-star hotels in Colombo - the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, but police have so far arrested 24 people.

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