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Death toll in Sri Lankan bombings rises to 359

Anthony David, DPA on

Published in News & Features

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- The death toll from the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 after more of the victims died from their injuries, police said on Wednesday.

More than 400 people remain in hospital, with some in critical condition.

More funerals of those killed in the attacks were also scheduled to take place on Wednesday under tight security precautions.

Another 18 people were, meanwhile, arrested overnight in connection with the attacks on churches and luxury hotels, bringing the total number of those detained to 60, police added.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had warned that several suspects were still at large, while police said they were searching in Colombo for a lorry and a van fitted with explosives that had been identified in an intelligence report.

The alert for the vehicles was still in place on Wednesday morning.

President Maithripala Sirisena also vowed to make immediate changes to the leadership of the security forces amid allegations that they failed to act on prior intelligence about possible attacks.

Both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have said they were not informed of the intelligence reports.

Parliament is to meet later Wednesday for a debate regarding the current situation.

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Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombings and Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene has said they were believed to have been carried out as revenge for the deadly attack on a Christchurch mosque last month.

But New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office said Wednesday it had not seen any intelligence to link the two attacks.

Sunday's explosions took place during busy Easter services at Christian churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo, and in three five-star hotels in the capital.

The Foreign Ministry said 34 foreigners killed have been identified and 14 remain unaccounted for.

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