Sri Lanka warned of terrorist plot weeks ago

Sri Lanka's Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne on Monday called on the inspector general of police to resign.

Thirteen people have so far been arrested in connection with the attacks, which occurred in or around the capital of Columbo. They also detonated bombs in three hotels in the nation's capital, Colombo.

Funerals began on Monday, as more of the victims were identified.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said his government will request foreign help in tracking down worldwide operators behind the dastardly attack. The foreign victims so far identified are from countries such as India, Portugal, Turkey, Australia, the United Kingdom and U.S. The authorities said as many as 25 victims, presumably from foreign countries, are yet to be identified.

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Experts said the targeting of churches and hotels where foreign tourists stay in Sri Lanka, which endured several suicide bombings targeting government officials and installations during the civil war, was a "new and worrying development" in the predominantly Buddhist country. Sri Lankan Airlines Ltd. advised travelers to arrive four hours before their flights to undergo additional security checks.

"What these attacks will do to that relationship is also a big question". The memo goes on to provide the coordinates of Zaharan's associates and brothers who were said to be planning the attack.

No one has yet claimed responsibility, but the government is blaming a group called the National Thowfeek Jamaath.

A spokesman of the Indian High Commission that they had obtained some information about the impending attacks and had shared whatever intelligence they had with the Sri Lankan government. Not much is known about NTJ, which only came to attention a year ago when it was blamed for defacing some Buddhist statues.

The group reported Sunday that Islamic State supporters were portraying the attacks as revenge for strikes on mosques and Muslims. The country has no history of Muslim militancy.

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It would be unusual for a new and relatively untested extremist group to carry out such a broad and coordinated attack on its first attempt. According to a memo issued by a high-ranking Sri Lankan police official to the country's Ministerial Security Division, Diplomatic Security Division, Judicial Security Division, and Security Divisions of Retired Presidents, a suicide attack being was planned in Sri Lanka by Mohammed Zaharan, leader of the National "Thawhith Jamaan".

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.

Was there any warning about the attacks? "We are now investigating worldwide support for the group and their other links", he added.

The apparent lapse could feed into a feud between the prime minister and the president.

He and President Sirisena have frequently been at odds.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the nation in an address there were warnings but authorities didn't pay enough attention.

There's no immediate indication that Sunday's attacks have anything to do with Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war. The Tamil Tigers, as they were commonly known, fought a brutal separatist insurgency against Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese.

One of the suicide bombers had lined up for the breakfast buffet at a hotel restaurant according to police. "Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka". Buddhists account for 70 percent of the total, while Hindus and Muslims make up the rest.

Many in the Seattle-area community grew up in Sri Lanka during the almost three decades of conflict, when the separatist Tamil Tigers fought to create an independent state.

  • Sonia Alvarado