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Sri Lanka Terror Attacks: The Latest

- The death toll rose to 359 on Wednesday, with more than 500 people wounded.

- 8 Britons were killed in Sunday’s bombing.

- Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said the Islamic State (IS) group may be linked to the blasts.

- IS has said it carried out the attacks, which targeted churches and high-end hotels, although it did not provide direct evidence of its involvement.

Key information from officials today

- Police have identified eight out of nine attackers - one of whom was a woman - with no foreigners among them

- Most of the attackers were "well educated" and "middle class"

o They and their families are financially independent

- The US envoy to Sri Lanka warned there were "ongoing terrorist plots" in the country

- Police have now detained around 60 people in connection with the attacks

- A state of emergency remains in effect to prevent further attacks.

From privilege to terror

Analysis by the BBC's Security Correspondent Frank Gardner

The announcement that most of the attackers were "well educated" and "middle class" is not as surprising as it sounds, despite poverty and a lack of opportunities steering

many down a path to terrorism, there are also numerous examples of individuals abandoning a relatively comfortable lifestyle for a violent cause.

Who could be behind the attacks?

IS said online that it had "targeted nationals of the crusader alliance [anti-IS US-led coalition] and Christians in Sri Lanka".

It provided no evidence for the claim but shared an image on social media of eight men purported to be behind the attack.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.

Experts said that although Isis had made false claims of responsibility in the past, it appeared likely that its involvement in the suicide bombings of three churches and three luxury hotels on Sunday would be confirmed by ongoing investigations.

The group's last territory fell in March, but even then experts had warned it does not mean the end of IS or its ideology. Analysts have repeatedly stressed that Isis continues to retain the ability to motivate recruits and attract new members, despite the destruction of its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

The claim from Isis came as Sri Lankan authorities were put under further pressure by reports that they had received repeated warnings from Indian intelligence services about a potential suicide attack against churches.

Mr Wijewardene has also told parliament that NTJ was linked to another radical Islamist group he named as JMI. He gave no further details.

He also said "preliminary investigations" indicated that the bombings were in retaliation for deadly attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

It is the deadliest overseas operation claimed by Isis since it proclaimed its “caliphate” almost five years ago, and would suggest it retains the ability to launch devastating strikes around the world despite multiple defeats in the Middle East.

Who were the victims?

The first mass funeral was held on Tuesday, as Sri Lanka marked an official day of mourning for the victims.

Most of those who died were Sri Lankan nationals, including scores of Christians attending Easter Sunday church services.

Some 38 foreign nationals were among the dead, with another 14 unaccounted for. The death toll includes at least eight British citizens and at least 11 Indian nationals.

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.

A moment of silence was also observed at 08:30 on Tuesday, reflecting the time the first of six bombs detonated.

Key Facts about Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has been scarred by a long and bitter civil war arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the north and east.

After more than 25 years of violence the conflict ended in May 2009, when government forces seized the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. But recriminations over abuses by both sides continue.

The island fell under Portuguese and Dutch influence after the 16th century. It gained independence in 1948, after nearly 150 years of British rule

President: Maithripala Sirisena

Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as president after a surprise victory over veteran strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in a January 2015 election dominated by charges of corruption and growing authoritarianism.

The former health minister united a fractured opposition and promised sweeping reforms of the presidency and accountability over atrocities committed during the long civil war.

But differences with his erstwhile ally Ranil Wickramasinghe led the president to replace him briefly with Mahinda Rajapaksa and suspend parliament in October 2018, prompting a crisis that led to the Constitutional Court reinstating parliament and Mr Wickramasinghe resuming his post in December. Political observers in Sri Lanka see a dispute between the president's alleged pro-Chinese orientation and Mr Wickramasinghe's support for traditional ties with India behind the events.


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