Officials lower death toll in Sri Lanka Easter attacks to 253

Authorities lowered the death toll from the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka by more than 100 people on Thursday.

An armed security guard patrols the area during victims' funerals Tuesday
An armed security guard patrols the area during victims’ funerals Tuesday

Sri Lanka’s director general for health services issued the correction on Thursday, lowering the total from 359 to 253 people, The Guardian reported.
“The death toll from the Easter Sunday attacks is at least 253, our first estimates were 290 and it will be reduced to 253,” the director general said.

The official added that the discrepancy was caused by difficulty identifying victims, as the bombings took place in closely confined spaces and severely dismembered some bodies.
As a result of the change, the attack is no longer the deadliest ever claimed by the Islamic State.

Another explosion went off near Sri Lanka’s capital Thursday, which led to a lockdown of the country’s central bank as the nation recovers from the string of deadly suicide attacks.

Police said the explosion occurred in Pugoda, 25 miles east of Colombo, and unnerved residents. Authorities closed the entry road to Colombo’s main airport after police spotted a suspicious vehicle near a car park. Police blocked the street outside the bank near Colombo’s World Trade Center.
John Keells Holdings, the parent company of Cinnamon Grand Hotel, warned employees about continuing threats after the hotel was damaged Sunday by a suicide bomber. Colombo businesses advised employees to stay inside for part of the day due to the scare.

Police said they weren’t immediately sure what caused Thursday’s blast, which occurred near a courthouse.

“There was an explosion behind the court,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. “We are investigating.”

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said this week several suspects involved in Sunday’s attacks remain at large and warned of possible follow-up strikes.

Gunasekara said 58 people have so far been detained in connection with the bombings. The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility.

ByClyde Hughes and Daniel Uria