Sri Lanka vows to overhaul state security

Sri Lanka's president has vowed to overhaul state security after several bomb blasts on Sunday killed 359 people and wounded about 500

IS has claimed the attack, although it did not provide direct evidence of its involvement
IS has claimed the attack, although it did not provide direct evidence of its involvement

On Tuesday, Maithripala Sirisena said warnings had not been shared with him and promised "stern action".

The country's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Islamic State (IS) group may be linked to the blasts.

Funerals are continuing across the country as people try to process last Sunday's wave of terror.

IS has claimed the attack, although it did not provide direct evidence of its involvement.

On Wednesday, the death toll saw another rise with police giving the latest figure as 359.

In a televised address late on Tuesday President Sirisena said he would completely restructure the police and security forces in coming weeks.

"The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation and did not share it with me. I have decided to take stern action against these officials."

With IS claiming responsibility for the attacks, Sri Lanka is now entering uncharted territory.

Authorities say they are looking into possible links between the local Muslim youths who carried out the suicide bombings and the global jihadist group.

Sri Lanka's government has blamed the blasts on local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ).

But Wickremesinghe said the attacks "could not have been done just locally".

"There had been training given and a coordination which we are not seeing earlier," he said.

Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack, all of whom were Sri Lankan nationals. A state of emergency remains in effect to prevent further attacks.

The nearly simultaneous attacks targeted three churches packed for Easter services and three major hotels in the capital, Colombo.

An attack on a fourth hotel on Sunday was foiled, Wickremesinghe said. He also warned that further militants and explosives could still be "out there" following the attack.

IS said it had "targeted nationals of the crusader alliance [anti-IS US-led coalition] and Christians in Sri Lanka" via its Amaq news outlet.

It provided no evidence for the claim but shared an image on social media of eight men purported to be behind the attack.

The group's last territory fell in March but even then experts had warned it does not mean the end of IS or its ideology.

Earlier, the country's defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament that NTJ was linked to another radical Islamist group he named as JMI. He gave no further details.

He also said "preliminary investigations" indicated that the bombings were in retaliation for deadly attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

NTJ has no history of large-scale attacks but came to prominence last year when it was blamed for damaging Buddhist statues. The group has not said it carried out Sunday's bombings.

The Sri Lankan government is facing scrutiny after it emerged the authorities were warned of about a possible attack.

Security services had been monitoring the NTJ but the prime minister and the cabinet were not warned, ministers said.

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