Sri Lanka Bombings Live Updates: Terrorist Group Is Identified, and Death Toll Rises


• The Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 people in connection with a series of devastating suicide bombings at hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that left nearly 300 people dead and more than 500 injured.

• The government on Monday blamed National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known radical Islamist organization, for the bombings. An official said the group, which had not carried out any serious attacks before, had help from “an international network.”

• Sri Lanka’s security forces were warned at least 10 days before the bombings that the group planned suicide attacks against churches, but apparently took no action against it, indicating a catastrophic intelligence failure. Top government officials say the warning never reached them.

Ten days before the bombings, a top Sri Lankan police official warned the security services that a radical Islamist group was planning suicide attacks against churches, but no action was taken against the group. It was unclear what other precautions, if any, the security agencies had taken in response to the threat warnings.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Sunday that neither he nor his cabinet ministers had been informed of the warning, highlighting the power struggle between him and President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the defense minister. Late last year, the feud led, for a time, to there being two officials claiming to be the rightful prime minister.

The apparent intelligence failure and the breakdown of communication within the government are likely to prompt political recriminations and attract attention in investigations into the attacks.

At a news conference on Monday, the health minister, Rajitha Senaratne, said there had been a warning as early as April 4, reiterating that the prime minister and his allies had been “completely blind on the situation.” He noted the lack of cooperation within the government, saying that when the prime minister attempted recently to call a security council meeting, members of the panel refused to attend.

An April 11 letter from the police official, citing foreign intelligence services, not only named the group believed to be planning an attack, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, but also named individual members.

“We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said on Sunday.



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