Video Footage Shows ‘Highly Trained’ Suicide Bomber Entering Sri Lankan Church on Easter

By Zachary Stieber

Newly released video footage shows one of the suicide bombers who set off explosions in Sri Lanka on April 21 entering a church and sparking a blast.

The footage was released on Tuesday, by Sri Lankan authorities.

It shows one of the radical Muslim extremists who walked into St. Sebastian’s Church and blew himself up.

The bomber, who hasn’t been identified publicly, walks up and down the block before entering the church in Negombo wearing a heavy backpack.

suicide bomber seen entering church
A suicide bomber enters St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019, in this still image taken from a CCTV handout of Easter Sunday attacks released on April 23, 2019. (CCTV/Siyatha News via Reuters)

Seven other bombs were set off in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, on Easter Sunday, killing hundreds who were at hotel restaurants or worshipping at church.

According to David Videcette, a criminal expert, the bomber walked up and down the street because he was “preparing the trigger mechanism in his right hand.”

“He’s being careful not to arouse suspicion and doing this while moving and away from the target,” Videcette wrote on Twitter.

The bomber was then seen walking to the church, stopping briefly to pat a child on the head. He enters the church through a side door before blowing himself up, killing some Christians and leaving others injured.

A view of St. Sebastian's Church
A view of St. Sebastian’s Church, which was damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019. (Chamila Karunarathne/AP Photo)

The death toll shot up 321 on Tuesday with 500-plus others injured.

Videcette said that the suicide device in the backpack was heavy.

“The device is in his backpack and is clearly quite heavy. The explosives are contained in what is probably a plastic or metal container surrounded by shrapnel. It’s possible we see a white/light coloured command wire leading from in his right hand to the device in this photo,” he said.

One the man was inside and detonated the device, his body and explosive propelled most of the blast backward behind him and to his right and left, the security expert said.

“Shrapnel marks are clearly visible on the walls showing the device was probably surrounded by screws, nails, nuts and bolts,” he added.

“The dark, sooty marks on the wall behind the bomber likely show that a commercial high explosive was used. What I’ve seen shows me that this man was highly trained and committed to carrying out the attack.”

Sri Lankan military stand guard inside a church
Sri Lankan military inside a church after an explosion in Negombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)

Radical Islamic Terrorists

Intelligence officials in Sri Lanka were warned by intelligence officials from both India and the United States that National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) was planning an attack.

Priyalal Disanayaka, Sri Lanka’s deputy inspector general of police, signed a letter 10 days before the bombings sent to directors of four Sri Lankan security agencies, warning them that NTJ was targeting “some important churches” in an attack planned soon.

Officials said that NTJ was a “small organization” and that it had the support of “an international network” that security experts said likely included al-Qaeda or ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings on April 23 through its Amaq agency, which distributes propaganda from the Islamic terrorist group. It later posted a picture of eight men it claimed were the bombers, with all but one wearing masks that obscured much of their faces.