Woman among nine bombers in Easter blasts, says Sri Lanka’s defence minister

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"Their thinking is that Islam can be the only religion in this country", he told reporters. An unspecified number of people were detained in western Sri Lanka, the scene of Muslim riots in 2014.

Sri Lankan police had been warned weeks ago about possible attacks by a little-known domestic Islamist group, according to an Indian intelligence report given to Sri Lankan state intelligence services, and seen by Reuters.

The sickening rise in the death toll comes as chilling footage shows a sick suicide bomber patting a little girl's head before "calmly" walking into St Sebastian's Church and killing 67 innocent worshippers.

The US Embassy in Sri Lanka has said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was on the ground in the island nation to assist with its probe into the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that has left 359 people dead besides several hundreds injured.

Teplitz called that breakdown in communication "incredibly tragic".

One of the additional bombers was the wife of another bomber, he said.

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Sri Lankan police sources told AFP that two Muslim brothers, sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader, blew themselves up at the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon Grand hotels.

Police have announced 58 arrests since the bombings on three churches and three hotels.

Teplitz said there was a "right-sized" team of FBI agents and US military officials assisting Sri Lanka in the investigation.

Authorities were urgently investigating a claim by the Islamic State group (ISIS) that it staged what was one of the worst militant strikes on civilians in Asia.

Word from global intelligence agencies that NTJ was planning attacks apparently did not reach the prime minister's office until after the massacre, exposing continuing turmoil in Sri Lanka's government.

But attacks organised or coordinated by Isis have been claimed faster, with detail and sometimes seen the group put out gory videos and footage from the scene. There are also reports identifying Hashim as the mastermind of the attacks.

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Teplitz declined to discuss whether US officials knew about National Towheed Jamaat or its leader before the attack. "They will be used only against terror suspects and I take that responsibility", he said. But Sirisena held control of the country's security apparatus and police - a decision which sparked anger among opposition lawmakers. No more bombs were found Wednesday.

Wijewardene told Parliament on Tuesday that the bombings were "carried out in retaliation" for the attacks on mosques last month in Christchurch, New Zealand. The only group to claim involvement is the so-called Islamic State, although that's as forensic as the claim got, as no further comment was made.

"However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials".

The group often claims responsibility for such attacks, whether or not it was involved, but Sri Lankan officials do believe the local groups had links to foreign extremists.

An Australian white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was arrested in the Christchurch shootings.

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