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Sri Lankan suicide bomber studied in UK and Australia, officials say

One of the suicide bombers who carried out the deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka studied in the UK and Australia, authorities in the country said Wednesday.

The country’s defense minister made the announcement at a media briefing Wednesday afternoon local time after the death toll of Sunday’s terrorist bombings rose to 359.

“We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and later did his postgraduate studies in Australia,” Ruwan Wijewardene said in a televised new conference.

He added that there were a total of nine bombers, including one woman, who carried out the attack. Eight of the bombers have been identified.

“What we can say is: Some of the suspected bombers, most of them are well-educated and come from maybe middle- or upper-middle-class, so are financially independent and their families are quite stable,” Wijewardene said at the briefing on Wednesday, adding that their financial independence is “worrying.”

He doubled down on his claim from Tuesday that the terrorists were motivated by the Christchurch Mosque shootings, where a white nationalist slaughtered 50 Muslims last month.

“The Christchurch incident motivated these guys to carry out these blasts on Easter Sunday,” Wijewardene said, citing national intelligence.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday. The Sri Lankan president also vowed to overhaul security forces in the country after it emerged that intelligence forces were told of the impending attack hours before it happened.

President Maithripala Sirisena said that the news of the oncoming attack was not passed onto him after his security forces were made aware.

“The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me. Appropriate actions would have been taken. I have decided to take stern action against these officials,” he said.

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