Islamic State claims Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka; identifies 7 suicide bombers

Colombo, Apr 23 (PTI): The Islamic State Tuesday claimed responsibility for the devastating Easter blasts in Sri Lanka and identified the seven suicide bombers who were involved in the attacks that killed 321 people and wounded more than 500 others.
In a statement issued through its propaganda ‘Amaq’ news agency, the ISIS said that “the executors of the attack that targeted citizens of coalition states and Christians in Sri Lanka two days ago were with the group,” according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activities.
The statement identified the attackers as Abu Ubayda, Abu al-Mukhtar, Abu Khalil, Abu Hamza, Abu al-Bara’a, Abu Muhammad and Abu Abdullah, and their respective targets.
It said Abu Hamza detonated his vest in the St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, Abu Khalil blew himself up in the St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and Abu Muhammad in the Zion Church. The rest of the attackers targeted hotels.
The statement also claimed that around 1,000 people were killed or wounded in the multiple attacks – believed to be the most deadly strike carried out by the Middle Eastern group outside Iraq and Syria.
The ISIS also issued a group photo of the attackers, showing 8 attackers while its official claim mentioned 7. The faces of seven attackers in the photo are covered while the eighth one, who is believed to be the ring leader, is without a mask.
“The detail given in #ISIS’ communique (attackers’ names, where each of them attacked) shows that the group had a hand in the attack – the degree to which still remains to be seen. The group’s delay in claiming is also an unanswered variable,” SITE Intelligence Group Director Rita Katz tweeted.
Sri Lanka has said local Islamist extremist group called the National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) is suspected of plotting the blasts.
“All suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals,” said Government’s spokesman Rajitha Senaratne, who is also the Health Minister.
The NTJ has no history of large-scale attacks. The group came to prominence last year when it was blamed for damaging Buddhist statues.
Forty suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers, have been arrested in connection with the attacks which shook Sri Lanka.

- Advertisement -