Colombo, Sri Lanka — Victims of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were laid to rest on Tuesday, with one funeral procession following another all day.
Giving the victims in Negombo a Christian burial essentially required a mass grave, and a whole new cemetery had to be hastily dug to bury more than 100 bodies. The graves are simple mounds, covered in flowers. Family, neighbors and friends looked on, still trying to absorb the community's staggering loss.
At a nearby vigil, Joseph Gomez grieved for his son and grandchildren, killed by terrorists. "I can't bear this," he said.
The burials come as ISIS coordinated wave of attacks, but officials have not verified the video nor confirmed ISIS' claim.for the bombings. The terrorist group posted a video claiming it showed the bombers pledging allegiance before the
In the video, the suicide bombers pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. One man in the video, Moulavi Zahran Hashem, is a local extremist Islamist preacher who was already known to Sri Lankan intelligence. Security officials received warnings that churches might be attacked but did nothing.The country's president visited one of the bombed churches on Tuesday and then announced he would replace all the defense chiefs and restructure the security services.
The death toll from the bombings has now climbed to over 300 people. Sri Lanka's defense minister said this atrocity was a reprisal for the mass shooting of Muslims in New Zealand last month, though offered no evidence to support his claim.
Security camera video shows a suspected suicide bomber with his backpack pausing to pat a child as he approached St. Sebastian church in Negombo. He enters by a side door and moments later, detonates his bomb. In an instant, more than 100 worshipers lay dying or dead.
In 2016, the Justice Minister confirmed that 32 Sri Lankans had joined ISIS in Syria. Investigators are now examining whether some of them are key to the bombing plot.