Sri Lanka Blasts | President Maithripala Sirisena declares nationwide emergency from midnight

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 22 April 2019, 08:03 PM
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena (File Photo)
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena (File Photo)

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena is set to declare nationwide emergency from midnight on Monday in wake of the deadly Easter blasts on Sunday that killed 290 people and wounded 500 others in the worst terror attack in the country's history.

The decision was made during a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena.

The NSC has announced plans to impose a "conditional state of emergency" from midnight, said a statement from the president's media unit.

It said the measures would target terrorism and would not limit freedom of expression. The government has declared Tuesday as a national day of mourning.

Earlier today, the Sri Lankan government lifted the curfew which was indefinitely imposed with immediate effect after the eight blasts.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Health Minister and government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said that a local outfit identified as the National Tawheed Jamath is suspected of plotting the blasts.

Senaratne also said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals.

He said that the Chief of National Intelligence had warned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) regarding the probable attacks before April 11.

Seven suicide bombers were involved in eight blasts that targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in Negombo and Zeon Church in Batticaloa when the Easter Sunday mass were in progress. The explosions also struck three five-star hotels in Colombo - the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, but police have so far arrested 24 people.

The government has said it will not disclose the details of the suspects involved in the attacks to prevent them from getting publicity.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that an investigation must be launched as to why intelligence reports of the attack was not taken seriously. President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a three-member committee to conduct investigations.

The blasts - the deadliest attacks in the country's history shattered a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.

The nation has seen some sporadic violence since. In March 2018, a state of emergency was declared after members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties.

First Published: Monday, April 22, 2019 02:47 PM
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