Death toll in Sri Lanka reaches 321

The death toll from a series of terrorist attacks that took place in Sri Lanka on April 21 has risen to 321, the country’s State Minister of Defense and Mass Media Ruwan Wijewardene said, addressing the parliament.

According to the minister, as many as 521 people were wounded in Sunday’s explosions. He added that according to preliminary investigation findings, extremists had carried out the attacks by way of revenge for the March 15 shootings at two New Zealand mosques.

Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in turn, blamed the April 21 attacks on the country’s government. “Sri Lanka became an easy target for terrorists because the government was busy persecuting intelligence officers,” he said. “The government has always made it clear that national security is not a priority for intelligence agencies,” Rajapaksa added.

Meanwhile, Wijewardene emphasized that the country’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as well as himself, had not received invitations to participate in the National Security Council’s meetings since October 2018.

On April 21, a series of terrorist attacks, unprecedented in the country’s history, took place in Sri Lanka. A total of eight explosions occurred in high-end hotels and churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa during Easter services. The country’s authorities confirmed that the explosions had been carried out by suicide bombers who were Sri Lankan nationals. As many as 40 suspects have been arrested in relation to the attacks.

On March 15, shooters opened fire in two mosques in New Zealand’s city of Christchurch, killing 50 and leaving another 50 wounded.