Sri Lanka mourns as investigation into deadly blasts continues
Police Media Spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara told CNN that “around 40 suspects” have been arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday bombings.
All of those in custody are Sri Lankan, he added.
The US believes it has identified a key operative in the attacks in Sri Lanka and has initially concluded that person has connections to international terrorism organizations, including ISIS, according to two US officials.
The US has a name of that individual and is trying to determine everything it can learn about the person’s nationality and ethnic background in hopes the details may provide more clues about the attack, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
The US believes that the attacks in Sri Lanka have "the hallmarks" of an ISIS-inspired attack, in part, due to the complexity of planning multiple attacks and the shocking nature of the violence, according to one of the officials familiar with the initial assessment.
For now, the US is trying to figure out just how involved ISIS may have been in facilitating the attacks, the official said. That includes whether ISIS operatives provided planning, financing, equipment to manufacture the bombs, and whether they met directly with Sri Lankan attackers.
"We are still looking at possible connections and how deep it went," the official said.
Two days on from the devastating attacks that targeted churches and tourist hotels in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, and two other cities in the island nation, its citizens are still coming to terms with the magnitude of the tragedy. At least 310 people have died, and hundreds more are injured.
On Tuesday, designated an official day of mourning, some of the dead were laid to rest, as the investigation into the widespread attacks continued.
Local police tell CNN that the Easter Sunday bombings have claimed the lives of 310 people. The number is a significant increase on the previously reported death toll.
Police Media Spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara had no further updates on the number of people injured. Previous estimates indicated at least 500 people were injured in the blasts across three churches and several high-end hotels.
A booby-trapped van was found parked a stone's throw from St. Anthony's Shrine, one of three churches attacked, CNN's Ivan Watson reported from Colombo yesterday.
Police detonated the vehicle with a large explosion, sending crowds to scrambling to safety.
Watch the incident, and the reaction of the panicked neighborhood, here.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will meet the foreign ambassadors and high commissioners to brief them on developments and seek international assistance, according to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defense.
"The intelligence agencies have reported that there were international organizations behind these acts of local terrorists. Hence, it has been decided to seek international assistance for investigations," the ministry statement says.
Three children of Danish retail billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen were killed in the attacks on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for his company. Povlsen and his family were reportedly vacationing in the country.
The entrepreneur owns clothing company Bestseller, which is the biggest shareholder in British fashion retailer Asos with a stake of over 26%.
Povlsen is worth $5.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That makes him the 304th richest person in the world.
The Sri Lankan leader said that the country is mourning as one, days after bombs ripped through eight locations in three cities in the Indian Ocean island nation.
"Today as a nation we mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives this past Easter Sunday," he tweeted.
"I would like to thank the military and police forces, the medical personnel and all those who have worked bravely and tirelessly without concern for their own safety, to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. It is imperative that we remain unified as Sri Lankans in the face of this unspeakable tragedy."
Some elements of the government here knew for weeks about potential attacks on churches and tourist destinations.
Intelligence services in India and the US told Sri Lanka of the threat in early April, officials said. One memo compiled by Sri Lankan security officials was so specific that it even gave a list of suspects.
In the run-up to Easter Sunday, the warnings seemed to increase in frequency and urgency.
The government has admitted that it failed to act on the multiple warnings, and government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said intelligence failures would be investigated.
Read more here.