Death toll in Sri Lanka blasts jumps to 359

AFP . Colombo | Update:

Students light candles during a vigil at a prayer meeting to show solidarity with the victims of Sri Lanka’s serial bomb blasts, outside a church in Kolkata. Photo: ReutersThe toll in a series of suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday targeting hotels and churches in Sri Lanka has risen to 359, police said Wednesday.

The additional deaths were the result of the wounded dying of their injuries. At least 500 people were injured in the attacks.

The blasts have been claimed by the Islamic State group, with Sri Lanka’s government pointing the finger at the little-known local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath, but saying the group likely had “international” help.

“Certainly the security apparatus is of the view that there are foreign links and some of the evidence points to that,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told media on Tuesday night.

“We’ve been following up on this claim, there were suspicions that there were links with ISIS,” he added, using another name for IS.

Overnight, Sri Lankan police carried out fresh raids, detained 18 more people in their hunt for those involved in the attacks.

Nearly 60 people have been detained since the Sunday blasts, which ripped through high-end hotels and churches packed with Easter worshippers in the capital Colombo and beyond.

It is the worst violence in the country since the end of a Tamil insurgency a decade ago.

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