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Officials: Sri Lankan bombing suspects 'well educated,' had international ties

By Daniel Uria
Officials: Sri Lankan bombing suspects 'well educated,' had international ties
The suspects in Sunday's bombings included a husband and wife, two brothers from a wealthy family, a man with a law degree, and another man who studied abroad before settling in Sri Lanka. Photo by Perera Sameera/UPI | License Photo

April 24 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan officials revealed Wednesday that the suspects behind the deadly Easter Sunday suicide bombings were "well-educated" with "middle-class" backgrounds and international ties.

The group included a husband and wife, two brothers from a wealthy family, a man with a law degree, and another man who studied abroad before settling in Sri Lanka.

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Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said nine suspects carried out the bombings, not seven as officials said previously. Among them was the wife of another bomber who blew herself up as well as her two children as police approached their apartments in the aftermath of the initial attacks.

"This group of suicide bombers, most of them are well-educated and come from middle or upper-middle class, so they are financially quite independent and their families are quite financially stable," Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said.

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He added one of the alleged suicide bombers studied in Britain and Australia before settling in his native Sri Lanka.

British counter-terrorism investigators told The Guardian that they were unaware Sri Lanka was going to publicly announce one of the bombers was linked to Britain.

The death toll from the attacks rose to 359 people on Wednesday with 500 others injured.

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Gunasekara said 58 people have been detained in connection to the bombings, including 18 suspects arrested overnight.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that several suspects armed with explosives had not yet been found.

Sri Lankan President Maithrpala Sirisena pledged to replace top defense and intelligence officials after local officials said they received prior warnings about the attacks, but the information didn't reach the highest levels of the government.

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U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz said it was "incredibly tragic" that the intelligence warnings about the plans appeared to have been missed.

"Clearly there was some failure in the system," Teplitz said.

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