Two Muslim brothers staged Sri Lanka hotel suicide attacks
COLOMBO, Apr 23: Muslim brothers from a wealthy Sri Lankan family plotted and carried out two of the Easter suicide blasts in Colombo that killed more than 320 people, police sources told AFP Tuesday amid growing questions on whether the attackers received foreign help.
The two sons of a Colombo spice trader were among suicide bombers who hit three churches and three luxury hotels, investigators said.
An attack on a fourth hotel failed and helped lead police to the Islamist group now blamed for the assault, they added in comments later confirmed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The brothers, whose names have not been revealed, were in their late twenties and operated their own "family cell", an investigation officer said.
The pair were members of the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) group which the government has blamed for the attacks.
The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility in an official statement for the attacks on the "infidel holiday".
A Sri Lankan minister said the bombers may have struck in revenge for the killing of 50 worshippers in two New Zealand mosques last month.
"Some of them might have travelled abroad and come back," Wickremesinghe told a press conference.
One brother checked into the Cinnamon Grand hotel and the other the Shangri-La on Saturday.
The next morning, at virtually the same time, they went to the hotels' Easter Sunday breakfast buffets and blew up explosives-laden backpacks, the officer said.
Another bomb tore through a restaurant at the nearby Kingsbury hotel. Similar explosions devastated three churches.
Another would-be suicide bomber was in a fourth hotel in Colombo, an official source told AFP.
"This man had also checked into the hotel the previous day," the source said.
It was not known if his explosives failed or he had a change of heart. -AFP