International desk – Radical Islamic State group has reportedly claimed credit of carrying out the series of bomb attacks in churches and hotels Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people and wounded 500 others.
The claim came Tuesday, two days after the attacks was carried out on Christian worshippers during the Easter services and the tourists in hotels, when Sri Lanka held its first mass funeral amid a day of mourning for the victims.
Authorities in Sri Lanka put the death figures to 320 as toll has risen sharply with many undergoing treatment at hospitals with severe wounds.
Sri Lankan government blamed a little known Islamist groups for the attacks, but the IS claimed the responsibility of the attack through its propaganda agency Amaq.
“Those that carried out the attack that targeted members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday are Islamic State group fighters,” the group said in a statement.
The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday blamed the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) group for the blasts, saying they were carried out in retaliation for last month’s attacks on two mosques in Christchurch of New Zealand.
A state of emergency across Sri Lanka is in effect to prevent further attacks.
BBC reported that the country’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said the government believed there “may be links” to IS.
“This could not have been done just locally,” he said. “There had been training given and a coordination which we are not seeing earlier.”
At least 40 suspects were detained in connection with the attack. A government spokesman said they included a Syrian who was arrested “after the interrogation of local suspects”.
The mass funeral for about 30 victims took place at St Sebastian’s church in Negombo, north of Colombo, which was one of the places targeted in Sunday’s blasts. Another funeral service was scheduled for later on Tuesday, according to BBC.
Earlier, a moment of silence was observed at 08:30, reflecting the time the first of six bombs detonated. Flags were lowered to half-mast and people, many of them in tears, bowed their heads in respect.