Islamic State group claims Sri Lanka attacks: propaganda arm

A Sri Lankan woman cries during a burial service for a bomb blast victim in a cemetery in Colombo.

A Sri Lankan woman cries during a burial service for a bomb blast victim in a cemetery in Colombo.


NEGOMBO - The Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed a series of bombings that killed more than 320 people in Sri Lanka, after the government blamed local Islamists for the blasts.

"Those that carried out the attack that targeted members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday are Islamic State group fighters," said a statement released by IS propaganda agency Amaq.

Devastated relatives collapsed into the arms of bystanders at memorial services on Tuesday, as Sri Lanka began burying victims of deadly weekend suicide blasts that claimed over 320 lives.

At least 321 people were killed by suicide bomb blasts on Sunday that ripped through three hotels and three churches as worshippers attended Easter services.

On Tuesday, they were remembered with three minutes of silence that started at 8.30am, when the first of the bombs detonated.

READ: US warns terrorists continue to plot Sri Lanka attacks

Inside St Sebastian's, evidence of the blast was everywhere, with shattered religious statues and smashed pews littering the floor. 

More people are believed to have died in the blast at St Sebastian's than at any of the five other attack sites, with the local hospital receiving more than 100 bodies.

Services were held in the grounds, where more than a thousand people gathered by mid-morning to remember the victims.

The atmosphere was heavy with grief.

READ: Sri Lanka prime minister condemns 'cowardly' attacks

As the first flower-topped coffin containing the body of a woman was brought in, her elderly husband wept uncontrollably.

Some 22 people had been buried in separate coffins by midday Tuesday, laid to rest side-by-side in a sandy patch of church land.

Memorial services were also held at St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, also targeted on Sunday.

Security was tight after another explosive found by police detonated near the church before the bomb squad could defuse it.

Black and white banners were hung along the street leading to the church, a symbol of mourning in Sri Lanka.