Defence minister of Sri Lanka, Ruwan Wijewardene addressed the media about the progress made in identifying the extremists that wreaked havoc in the island country. The death toll has touched 359 of which 39 are foreigners.
Colombo: Minister of defence in Sri Lanka, Ruwan Wijewardene addressed the media in Colombo and said that the Easter Sunday attacks across the island nation saw nine suicide bombers, of which 8 had been identified. He also threw light on the organisation that these bombers belonged to.
Furthermore, Wijewardene stated that 60 people - all Sri Lankan nationals - have been arrested in connection with the attacks that claimed the lives of 359 people.
Ruwan Wijewardene said that from the investigations so far, they have arrived at a conclusion that a faction of the National Thowheeth Jama'ath that split from the group carried out the attacks.
Wijewardene stated that the split group was behind the attacks in three churches and four hotels on Easter Sunday. He also said that he was forbidden from naming the group and its leaders because of ongoing investigations.
The minister also added that the leader had blown himself up in one of the suicide bombings in the country.
In the course of the press conference, Ruwan Wijewardene said that investigations also suggest that the suicide bombers were all “well-educated’ and one of them had even studied in the UK and Australia before returning to Sri Lanka.
The CID in Sri Lanka had identified eight of the nine suicide bombers, of which one was a woman. They are now identifying the ninth bomber, who they believe has also died in the attacks.
Speaking about the links between the Christchurch attack and the Easter Sunday attack, Wijewardene said he was certain that the group had been motivated by the attack on Muslims in Christchurch while offering Friday prayers.
Reporters questioned the minister of defence about the claim that the Islamic State made on Tuesday, to which he neither accepted nor denied.
“I can only request you to not publicise such claims because it could motivate more groups, in Sri Lanka and outside,” stated Wijewardene.
Ruwan Wijewardene stated that he has been getting assistance from neighbouring countries including India and the intelligence agencies of the countries are helping in assessing the situation.
The minister assured that in a couple of days, the country’s security will have full control of the situation.
The National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) which is a local jihadist group was previously known for vandalising statues of the Buddha and Jesus.
NTJ came in the news for vandalism last December that targeted Buddhist temples in Mawanella, central Sri Lanka.
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Last Updated Apr 24, 2019, 1:40 PM IST