SL government has declared tomorrow as a national day of mourning
Agencies / Colombo
The death toll in Easter Sunday’s serial blasts in Sri Lanka has risen to 290, with more than 500 people injured. As many as 32 foreign nationals, including five Indians, are among those killed.
Sri Lankan government has said that a local religious group National Tawheed Jamaath is behind the attack.
Addressing a press conference, Cabinet Minister and Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the international support behind the attacks is being investigated and they are trying to ascertain how suicide bombers were prepared as such a small local group cannot organise attacks at such a level.
The minister said there were inputs from international intelligence agencies earlier warning of such suicide attacks and expressed regret that it could not be avoided. He said that there was a circular issued by DIG police on 11th of this month advising security agencies to be vigilant. The minister also added that detailed security checks out is being carried out at all sensitive places across the country as there are inputs of more such attacks.
Twenty-four local suspects have been arrested across the country. President Maithripala Sirisena announced the appointment of a special committee, led by a retired Supreme Court judge to investigate the attacks and submit its report within two weeks.
An Improvised Explosive Device was detected and defused near the departure area of Bandaranaike International Airport last evening. Security has been tightened at all sensitive places. Police Curfew will be in place from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. tomorrow. Schools are closed till tomorrow while Universities have been instructed to close down till further notice.
The bombs had gone off at the same time in all the churches at around 8:45 am.Bomb explosions were also reported from the Kingsbury, Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand Hotels in Colombo. Later, another explosion was reported at a shop near the Dehiwala zoo where two people were killed. The Police arrested seven suspects in connection with the bomb blast in Dematagoda and in an ensuing gun battle and a bomb explosion, a Police Sub-Inspector and two Police Constables died.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police clamped down a Police Curfew from 6.00 pm yesterday to 6.00 am today while all schools and universities will remain closed till Wednesday.Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando meanwhile said the Tri-Forces and Police were doing everything possible to bring the situation under control within a short period of time.
“It has been 10 years since we last saw this kind of horror,” Secretary Fernando said.The Defence Secretary also confirmed that Police had received an alert about a potential attack on churches earlier this month. He said that a letter to various police units to take necessary action on the early intelligence had been sent.
The government has declared tomorrow as a national day of mourning, President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
In a statement, it said the decision was taken at the national security council which convened under the chair of President Maithripala Sirisena this morning.
“The President announced the declaration of April 23 as the day of national mourning for the victims of ruthless terrorist attacks at churches and hotels in the country on April 21,” it said.
The police curfew will be imposed across the island from 8.00 pm tonight to 4.00 am tomorrow, the government announced today.
The May Day rally of the United National Party (UNP), which was scheduled to be held at the Municipal Council ground in Colombo, has been cancelled, UNP General Secretary Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said.