Rest of Asia

Sri Lanka government declares state of emergency

Filed on April 22, 2019 | Last updated on April 22, 2019 at 01.23 pm
Sri Lanka government declares state of emergency

(AFP file)

The emergency law would go into effect at midnight local time, the president's office said.

Sri Lanka said on Monday it was invoking emergency powers in the aftermath of devastating bomb attacks on hotels and churches, blamed on militants with foreign links, which killed 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The emergency law, which gives police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders, would go into effect at midnight local time, the president's office said.

Colombo, the seaside capital of the Indian Ocean island, was jittery the day after the horrifying Easter Sunday attacks. Police said 87 bomb detonators were found at the city's main bus station, while an explosive went off near a church when bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it. Scores were killed in the church on Sunday.

A night curfew went into effect at 8pm.

Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said investigators were looking at whether the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) group had "international support" for the attacks.

Wary of stirring ethnic and religious tensions, officials have provided few details about 24 people arrested since the attacks.

"We don't see that only a small organisation in this country can do all that," said Senaratne.

Investigators said seven suicide bombers took part in the attacks while a government spokesman said an international network was involved. Police had received a tip-off of a possible attack on churches, but Senaratne said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had not been told of the report, dated April 11.

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