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As bombing death toll tops 300, grieving Sri Lanka looks for answers

The death toll from Sri Lanka's Easter massacre has risen to 321, as the country observed a national day of mourning Tuesday. Although the Islamic State made an unconfirmed claim of responsibility for the bombings, officials in Colombo blamed a local group and suggested the attacks might have been retaliation for the recent mass killing of Muslims in New Zealand. ITN's Debi Edward reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The death toll keeps climbing in the Easter Sunday massacre in Sri Lanka. It reached 321 today, as the Islamic State group made an unconfirmed claim of responsibility, despite having lost all its territory in Iraq and Syria.

    Officials in Colombo blamed a local group, and suggested the attacks might be retaliation for the killing of Muslims in New Zealand.

    Meanwhile, the people of Sri Lanka observed a national day of mourning.

    Debi Edward of Independent Television News reports.

  • Debi Edward:

    In the grounds of St. Sebastian's Church, they have erected a makeshift altar, at which this morning coffin after coffin began to arrive.

    On Sunday, this congregation lost more than 100 of its worshipers, and at a mass funeral, the lives of each of them was remembered and honored by those who survived. At a house nearby, we found the community gathering to pay their respects to a mother and her three children who were also killed in the same attack in Negombo.

    Prideep hadn't joined his family at church that day. He described having to go identify his children at the morgue, and then the moment he went to visit his wife in hospital, only to see her lose her fight for life.

    Police have released this footage of the suicide bomber in the moments before he murdered Prideep's family. It shows how brazenly he walked into the church wearing his deadly backpack, his hand poised to detonate. One of the priests leading the Easter service told us of the devastating impact it has had.

  • Father Cyril Gambini Fernando:

    Almost all families have lost somebody.

  • Debi Edward:

    CCTV has also emerged of the two men who targeted tourists at the Shangri-La Hotel. One entered the breakfast room. Another stood in the path of those that tried to escape.

    Following the discovery of more unexploded devices, and claims that those responsible were connected to ISIS, the government warned the Sri Lankan people that there could be more attacks to come.

  • Ranil Wickremesinghe:

    The investigators are making good progress in regard to identifying the culprits, but it means that we need to identify all the culprits and look at what the network is.

  • Debi Edward:

    There was a heavy security presence in Negombo as they began to bury their dead.

    This town is known as Little Rome because it is the center of the Catholic community in Sri Lanka. But on this day of national mourning, people of all faiths have come out into the streets and joined Christian services to show their solidarity and share their grief for those who died.

    In a nation still under threat, so many families are having to deal with the trauma of laying their loved ones to rest.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That report from Debi Edward of Independent Television News.

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