A state of emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka as the number of victims of Sunday’s suicide attacks in churches and hotels was established at 290 persons dead and some 500 others wounded, some of them in serious condition.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed a little known jihadist group for the massacre, which the authorities believe had foreign support.
The President’s office declared a state of emergency which enters into force at midnight.
The authorities said that the attacks were carried out by a local jihadist group, known as Towheed Jamath, with the assistance from abroad. President Maityhripala Sirisena is expected to seek foreign assistance to identify the international links of the aggressors.
Earlier this month, the Police head had warned about the risk of suicide attacks at important churches.
Meanwhile, another explosion occurred on Monday morning in a road close to St Anthony church in Colombo. A car bomb exploded as security forces tried to deactivate the explosive device inside the vehicle. It is not yet known if there were any wounded persons.
Sri Lankan government spokesperson, Rahjitha Senaratne, told a press conference that the police arrested 24 persons during raids.
“We are doing all the raids and one by one we are catching and all the places, their actually the training places have been identified and we have raided already, so we have taken all the actions by now.”
The Government said it will compensate the relatives of victims and wounded persons, while it will contribute in the repairs of the attacked churches.
Authorities had appealed to citizens to remain inside their homes between eight in the evening and four on Tuesday morning, while declaring the state of emergency.
Local media reported that a bomb was found near Sri Lanka’s major international airport a few hours after the attacks.
Easter Sunday’s attacks were the worst since the end of the civil war in the country, 10 years ago.