National Thowheed Jamath responsible for deadly Sri Lanka blasts on Easter Sunday
The government of Sri Lanka has said that local extremist group - National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) - was behind the deadly blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday and issued an apology, admitting inteligence failure. The National Thowheeth Jamath is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues.
Seven suicide bombers of the NTJ group were involved in a series of eight devastating blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 290 people and wounding 500 others in the worst terror attack in the Island nation's history.
The attacks were also the result of a major government failure as despite having credible information about the possible attack 10 days in advance, the Lankan authorities failed to act on time. On April 11, Sri Lankan police chief Pujuth Jayasundara had issued a nationwide alert that suicide bombers were planning to hit "prominent churches".
In the alert, it was clearly mentioned that the NTJ was planning to carry out suicide attacks on prominent churches as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo, but the government authorities failed to act responsibly.
"A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," said the alert.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. (local time) when worshipers were attending Easter services, Sri Lankan police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels - the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury. Foreigners and locals who were injured in hotel blasts were admitted to the Colombo General Hospital.
The police said that at least six Indian nationals have been reported among the foreigners who died in the blasts. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday identified two more individuals killed in the blasts on Sunday.