The sophistication and sweep of the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka suggests involvement of an external group such as Islamic State, the US ambassador has said, as the death toll mounted to 359.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on churches and hotels but gave no evidence to back it up.
Sri Lankan officials, however, have blamed two domestic groups with suspected ties to the Islamic State and details have begun to emerge of a band of nine, well-educated suicide bombers, including one woman, from affluent families.
'If you look at the scale of the attacks, the level of coordination, the sophistication, it’s not implausible to think there are foreign linkages,' the US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ms. Alaina Teplitz, said in Colombo.
'Exploring potential linkages is going to be part of (investigations),' she said. Her coments came as Sri Lanka’s junior defence minister, Mr. Ruwan Wijewardene, conceded that there had been a significant intelligence failure, with reports of warnings of strikes not acted on and feuds at the highest levels.
'It is a major lapse in the sharing of intelligence information,' Mr. Wijewardene said. 'We have to take responsibility.'
Mr. Lakshman Kiriella, the leader of parliament, said senior officials had deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks. 'Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass did not take appropriate actions,' Mr. Kiriella, who is also minister of public enterprise, told Parliament.