Sri Lanka bombings: Death toll rises to 359; bodies of 17 foreigners identified
Colombo, Apr 24: Out of the 359 people who lost their lives when eight coordinated explosion rattled Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, 17 bodies have been identified to be foreign nationals, Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Wednesday.
The death of Indian nationals in Sri Lanka has reached 11. According to sources, the list of the deceased includes seven JDS members, one individual from Telangana, another named Chandrashekhar whose kin have not yet reached out to the Indian mission and one Indian whose identity is yet to be confirmed.
The seven JDS party workers were on a holiday in Sri Lanka and were staying at Shangri-La hotel which was attacked by a suicide bomber.
Sri Lanka's Defence Minister, Ruwan Wijewardene said,''The death toll has risen to 359, of which 39 are foreign nationals. 17 bodies have been identified of the foreigners and have been released to their families. Investigation is still being conducted.''
The Islamic State group on Tuesday had claimed a series of bombings that killed 359 people in Sri Lanka, and released a photo and video of the men it said were responsible. In a statement, IS named what it said were the seven attackers who carried out the attacks. It gave no further evidence to support its claim of responsibility. The hardline militant group later released a video on Amaq showing eight assailants, seven of whom were masked, pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Sri Lankan intelligence officials had reportedly been warned hours earlier by India that attacks by Islamists were imminent. It was not clear what action, if any, was taken.
President Maithripala Sirisena said he would change the heads of the defence forces following their failure to act on the intelligence.
The first six bombs - on three churches and three luxury hotels - exploded within 20 minutes of each other. Two more explosions - at a downmarket hotel and a house in a suburb of the capital, Colombo - took place in the early afternoon.