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Footage Captured Suspected Bomber Strolling Into Sri Lankan Church Moments Before Explosion

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombings in which 321 people have so far lost their lives.


Updated:April 23, 2019, 7:33 PM IST
Footage Captured Suspected Bomber Strolling Into Sri Lankan Church Moments Before Explosion
People carry a casket during a mass for victims, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Negombo, Sri Lanka. (Photo: Reuters)

New Delhi: CCTV footage emerged on Tuesday showing one of the suspected suicide bombers who was involved in the attacks across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday on April 21, in which 321 people died and over 500 suffered injuries.

The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The opening few frames of the 26-second-long video show the suspected bomber, clad in a shirt, trousers and slippers, carrying a backpack, enter the square outside St Sebastian church in the western coastal town of Negombo. It was among the six churches and hotels targeted by suicide bombers in multiple attacks — the worst violence seen in the country since a civil war ended a decade ago.

The man is seen patting a little girl and speaking to an adult accompanying her; he then crosses the square. A few people are seen milling around outside the church, with motorbikes parked in a corner.

The clip then cuts to a scene inside the church packed with worshippers. The man is seen entering the shrine through the third door on the left side and moving along one of the pews.

The man allegedly detonated the explosives inside the shrine, with the blast blowing off the roof of the church. More people are believed to have died at St Sebastian's than any of the other attacks, with the local hospital receiving more than 100 bodies.

The other places targeted were St Anthony's Church in Colombo, another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa, Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the Kingsbury Hotel in the capital.

The destruction at St Sebastian's was still visible on Tuesday — parts of broken religious statues and smashed pews littered the floor – as Sri Lanka started burying its dead. A three-minute silence was held in the morning to remember the victims.

The dead include at least 45 children, said the United Nations.

Sri Lankan cricketer Dasun Shanaka survived the attack after he skipped Easter service at St Sebastian's Church because of a long trip the day before. The 27-year-old all-rounder is a resident of Negombo.

"Normally I would have gone to church... (but) I was tired," Shanaka said. "That morning, when I was at my house, I heard a sound, and then people were saying a bomb had gone off at the church. I rushed there, and I'll never forget the scene. "The entire church was destroyed, absolutely shattered, and people were dragging lifeless bodies outside."

A total of 10 Indians have died in the serial bombings so far, the Indian High Commission announced on Tuesday. The Sri Lankan police have detained a Syrian among 40 people who are being questioned about the attacks.

The Sri Lankan government has apologised for its failure to act despite receiving advance intelligence inputs about the possibility of terror attacks. An initial probe has shown that the attacks were "retaliation for Christchurch," Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament, referring to the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand last month.

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