Sri Lanka holds its first mass funeral to bury victims of Sunday attack, NTJ seen as suspects

The Sri Lankan Defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene today told parliament the Easter bombings are likely to be the fallout of the New Zealand mosque shootout in March. However, Mr Wijewardene also said the investigations are still at the preliminary stages but stated it is the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) that seems to be emerging as the prime suspects.

The country meanwhile held a mass funeral for about 30 of those dead. This happens to be the first mass funeral ever to take place in Sri Lanka and was held in St Sebastian church in Negombo, north Colombo. The country is also in a state of mourning and emergency has been declared as a precaution against further attacks.

This also is the first time emergency has been imposed in Sri Lanka after the end of the civil war. This apart, restrictions have also been imposed on the social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram as a means to prevent spread of hatred or fear.

About 30 suspects have been detained so far and a massive search is on for the vehicles – a lorry and a van – that are believed to have been used to transport the explosives. Interestingly, no group including NTJ have accepted responsibility for the attack so far.

The NTJ too has had a low profile existence so far in spite of their pro jihadi stance. The only time they had attained notoriety was when they were found involved in desecrating Buddhist statues last year.

Meanwhile, the deal toll in the Sunday attack during Easter has climbed to 321 with another 500 wounded.

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