Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed one of the suicide bombers responsible for the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks studied in UK and Australia.
Sri Lankan Junior Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said the bomber completed his post-graduate education in Australia.
“Most of the bombers are well-educated, come from economically strong families. Some of them went abroad for studies,” Wijewardene said.
“We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and then later on did his postgraduate in Australia before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka. Foreign partners, including the UK, are helping us with those investigations,” he said.
UK authorities have been given his name and are investigating who he met prior to the attacks, says the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner.
Wijewardene said authorities were still investigating the possibility of international links and residents were urged to be vigilant.
“I’m not saying that the country is 100 percent [safe] at the moment … there could be still a few people out there,” he told a briefing yesterday.
“Right now we are asking people to be vigilant but I think within a couple of days, within the next few days, we will have the situation totally under control.”
Wijewardene told parliament on Tuesday that two Sri Lankan Islamist groups - the National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim - were responsible for the blasts, reported Reuters.
He said yesterday the leader of one of those groups blew himself up in the attack on the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo.
A total of 60 people had been detained for questioning across Colombo since Sunday, Wijewardene said. That total includes a Syrian, according to security sources.
Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, but its propaganda channels did not substantiate the claim with evidence.
Most of those killed and wounded were Sri Lankans, although officials said 38 foreigners were also killed. That included British, US, Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals. Forty-five children were among the dead.