The latest on Sri Lanka's bombing investigation

5:59 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

BREAKING: Sri Lanka’s Cinnamon Grand Hotel bomber was previously arrested and released, official says

One of the Sri Lanka suicide bombers was previously arrested by police and then released, a senior Sri Lankan government spokesman told CNN Thursday.

Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim -- one of two sons of a spice tycoon who blew themselves up in Sunday's attacks -- detonated a device at the Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo, Sudarshana Gunawardana said.

"It was the suicide bomber of the Cinnamon Grand bomb attack who was released earlier," Gunawardana said.

Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim and his brother Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim were previously identified as two of the suicide bombers in Sunday's attacks, which left at least 359 people dead across the country.

Police have confirmed to CNN that they are holding the brothers' father, Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader, on suspicion of aiding and abetting his sons.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the elder Ibrahim was is in custody, as are all other members of the Ibrahim family police are aware of in the country.

CNN has not been able to reach Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim or other members of his family for comment.

Read more here

4:29 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

Israel warns of "high concrete threat" in Sri Lanka

Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a travel warning for Sri Lanka on Thursday, raising the threat level to indicate a "high concrete threat," advising travelers to leave the country and avoid visiting Sri Lanka in the near future. 

The elevated alert level comes after consultations with security and foreign ministry officials, according to a statement from the Counter-Terrorism Bureau.

Level 2 is the second-highest threat level. A threat level of 1 indicates a "very high concrete threat" in which travelers are urged to leave the country immediately.

4:36 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

Sri Lanka PM: Some terrorists were under surveillance before Easter Sunday attacks

Some of the suspected attackers responsible for the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka were being monitored by the country’s intelligence services, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told CNN's Ivan Watson in an interview Thursday.

There was not "sufficient" evidence to put the suspected attackers in custody prior to the attacks, Wickremesinghe said.

He reiterated that the attackers were middle- and upper-middle class and had been educated abroad. He added that the profile of the suspected bombers was "surprising."

4:21 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

Spice tycoon, father of two attackers, in custody

A photo posted in 2016 on the Sri Lankan Minister of Science Technology and Research’s official Facebook page from a 2016 event shows Sujeewa Senasinghe (in white), former State Minister of International Trade, shaking the hand of Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim (right) as his father (middle), billionaire spice trader Mohamed Ibrahim, looks on.
A photo posted in 2016 on the Sri Lankan Minister of Science Technology and Research’s official Facebook page from a 2016 event shows Sujeewa Senasinghe (in white), former State Minister of International Trade, shaking the hand of Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim (right) as his father (middle), billionaire spice trader Mohamed Ibrahim, looks on.

A prominent spice trader and father of two suicide bombers, Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, is in custody on suspicion of aiding and abetting suspects, Sri Lankan police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera tells CNN.

Ibrahim is the founder of Colombo-based Ishana Exports, which describes itself on its website as the "largest exporter of spices from Sri Lanka since 2006."

Ruwan Gunasekera added that all other members of the Ibrahim family are believed to be detained.

Ibrahim was among dozens of people arrested in the wake of the attacks.

3:04 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

Police have raided 5 houses connected to terrorists

Sri Lankan national police spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekera, tells CNN the country’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has raided 5 safe houses connected with terrorists in the following areas:

  • Negombo
  • Dehiwala
  • Sharikamulla, Panadura
  • Colpetty, Colombo 3
  • Wattala

The safe houses have now been sealed for forensic investigation.

Meanwhile, police say search operations have increased today and searches are currently underway across Colombo, including the set-up of roadblocks.

Police have asked the public not to panic, a police spokesperson told CNN.

2:27 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

Catholic services across Colombo suspended

Security personnel stand guard at St Anthony's Church on April 24, 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Security personnel stand guard at St Anthony's Church on April 24, 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Atul Loke/Getty Images

All Catholic services across capital city Colombo have been suspended until April 29 because of security concerns, according to Fr. Edmond Tillekeratne, media director of the Archdiocese.

The decision was made at the direction of Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. 

 

1:46 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

One man's story of unbearable loss in Sri Lanka attack

Sudesh Kolonne with his daughter, who died in an attack on a Christian church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday.
Sudesh Kolonne with his daughter, who died in an attack on a Christian church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday. Sudesh Kolonne

Sudesh Kolonne's is one of hundreds of families destroyed by acts of unspeakable violence wrought on worshipers and tourists on April 21, Easter Sunday.

On the morning of the attack, Kolonne's family was at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, north of the capital Colombo, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive. The blast killed dozens of people, including Kolonne's wife and daughter.

"These two were so excited that Sunday we'd go to church for the ceremony," he told CNN's Ivan Watson, fighting back tears. "Both died in front of me."

He showed CNN the last video he ever made of his daughter, singing a song to her father as she played an oversized guitar.

"She loved to sing, she loved to dance. She loved to create songs, you know?" he says.

"We had a really good family, especially my daughter. Now they're gone. It's very hard."

See more of his story here.

12:48 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

What we know about the bombers: Two sons of a wealthy spice mogul, another studied in UK

Two of the suicide bombers involved in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were members of a prominent and wealthy family in Colombo, sources have told CNN.

The brothers, Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, were among the band of extremists who blew themselves up in Sunday's attacks, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said.

Their father, Mohamed Ibrahim, is the founder of Colombo-based Ishana Exports, which describes itself on its website as the "largest exporter of spices from Sri Lanka since 2006." Authorities have not announced any charges against him.

A third suicide bomber, has been named as Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed. British security sources told CNN that he had studied in the South East of England in 2006-2007.

Read more here.

12:25 a.m. ET, April 25, 2019

Sixteen people have been arrested for 'suspicious behavior'

A Sri Lankan police spokesperson said this morning that 16 people had been arrested from "a number of areas." The arrest locations stretch from the east to west coasts of the island nation.

At least one suspect was accused of having a terrorist link. Others had weapons and walkie-talkies seized.

It is not clear whether the 16 are an addition to the 60 apprehensions announced yesterday.