Sri Lanka awoke Tuesday to a day of mourning as the country continued to reel over the devastating attacks which took some 253 lives, including many Christians celebrating Easter Sunday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted early Tuesday morning, saying that the country grieved as one.
“Today as a nation we mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives this past Easter Sunday,” he tweeted, spelling out his gratitude for the emergency and security forces who responded to the multiple bombings that tore through three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations.
He added that it “is imperative that we remain unified as Sri Lankans in the face of this unspeakable tragedy.”
Failure to act
On Monday the Sri Lankan government admitted that it failed to act on multiple warnings before a coordinated series of attacks ripped through churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, adding that an international terror group might be to blame.
A government spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, revealed that warnings were received in the days before the attacks, including from foreign intelligence services.
He said one of the warnings referred to National Tawheed Jamath, or NTJ, a little-known local Islamist group that defaced Buddhist statues in the past. But Senaratne, who is also health minister, said he did not believe a local group could have acted alone.
“There must be a wider international network behind it,” he said.
No group has yet claimed responsibility.
Four days after the coordinated attacks, the Sri Lankan Health Ministry revised the death toll, saying 253 people had died. That toll is significantly lower than the 359 initially reported to CNN by a Colombo police spokesman this week. The health ministry cited the condition of remains and the difficulty in identifying them for the discrepancy.
The United States believes it has identified a key terrorist operative in the attacks, and has initially concluded that the person has connections to international terrorism organizations, including ISIS, two US officials directly familiar with the initial US intelligence assessment said.
These connections are a key reason the US has come to an early conclusion the attacks were inspired by ISIS, according to one of the two officials. For now, the US is trying to figure out just how involved ISIS may have been in facilitating the attacks, the official said.
Sri Lankan government apologizes
Police arrested 24 people in connection with Sunday’s attacks, the worst violence the