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Sri Lanka bombings: Suicide bomber shown calmly walking through courtyard moments before deadly church explosion

CCTV footage appears to show bomber patting young girl on head or shoulder prior to attack

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 23 April 2019 17:16 BST
Sri Lanka bombings: CCTV shows suspect moments before church blast

New CCTV footage has emerged showing one of the suspected suicide bombers walking calmly inside St Sebastian’s Church in Sri Lanka only moments before the deadly explosion at the Easter Sunday service.

The male suspect is seen carrying a large backpack through a quiet courtyard then entering the packed church in Negombo, north of capital Colombo, before a bomb was detonated.

Obtained by Siyatha News, the clip has been widely broadcasted on Sri Lankan news channels. It also shows the backpack-wearing man patting a young girl on the head or shoulder before walking across the courtyard outside the church.

Killing more than 100 people, the attack on St Sebastian’s Church is believed to have been the deadliest in the co-ordinated bombings across the country in which over 320 people lost their lives.

More than 1,000 mourners attended a memorial service at St. Sebastian Church on Tuesday. Relatives wept and prayed under a tent put up in the courtyard of the church, which had most of its roof torn away by the blast.

After the service, 22 coffins were taken to a freshly dug burial site near the church and were lowered into individual graves.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Sri Lanka who led the service, urged other churches to delay memorials amid fears that more bombers may be at large.

“The security forces have not cleared the situation yet ... there could be more attacks on public gatherings,” he said.

Mass burial of victims at a cemetery near St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, 23 April (Reuters)

Earlier on Tuesday Isis claimed responsibility for the bombings in a statement released by its Amaq propaganda agency.

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said authorities suspected links to the group but were still investigating.

His government previously attributed the atrocities to a local Islamist group called National Thowheed Jama’ath, which has been known to vandalise Buddhist statues.

Sri Lanka has asked for help from world powers to track down the bombers’ international links because of intelligence reports “indicating that foreign terrorist organisations are behind the local terrorists”.

The FBI is assisting Sri Lankan authorities with their investigation of the bomb attacks on three churches and four hotels, a spokeswoman for the US law enforcement agency said on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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