Colombo: The death toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also injured, police said on Monday.
The death toll overnight had stood at 207. Three police officers were also killed during a security forces raid in a house in the Sri Lankan capital several hours after the attacks, many of which officials said were suicide bomb explosions.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the police on Monday said 24 people from a radical minority Muslim group were arrested and declined to give further details.
According to media reports, the prime suspect in the Lankan attacks is a Muslim radical group called Thawheed Jamaat, which has presence in Tamil Nadu also.
When first reports came in from Lanka about the blasts, initial suspicion was on Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) because this terror group was known for its suicide attacks.
Former Indian Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE bomber.
However, media reports claimed that the Easter Day attacks have all the ingredients of an Islamist group’s operation.
Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamaat (SLTJ), a Wahhabi-aligned group, has its presence in Lanka’s eastern parts and its mission was to push Sharia law.
It is not clear whether Thawheed has reached the level of launching suicide attacks but the suspicion is on them now.
However, it is beyond doubt that the jihadi terrorism has alread made huge leaps in the island nation now.
Earlier, SLTJ’s activities had triggered tension with the Buddhists. This had resulted in the radical Muslim group attacking Buddha statues in the country.
As Sunday attack was specifically aimed at hitting Christians on Easter, the likelihood of the event being part of a bigger Islamist jihad is not ruled out.
Among those killed, six were Indians, including a Keralite who was identified as P S Razina Khadar, 58, a native of Mogralputhur in Kasaragod district.
She was on a holiday in the island nation with her husband, Manorama News reported.
(With inputs from agencies)