The blast occurred near a church in Colombo
A blast hit near a church in Sri Lanka’s capital on Monday as police tried to defuse a new bomb found by the site, a police spokesman said.
There was no immediate information on injuries in the blast, or how large it was. The explosion happened around 50 metres from the St Anthony’s Shrine, one of three churches targeted in a string of suicide bombs on Sunday that killed nearly 300 people.
At least 290 people were killed in a series of bomb blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday, in the worst violence to hit the island since its devastating civil war ended a decade ago.
Eight apparently co-ordinated explosions targeted Easter worshippers and high end hotels popular with international guests.
The horrific death toll, which has risen dramatically overnight, was given on Monday morning by a police spokesman, who said a further 500 people had been wounded.
The news came hours after it was revealed that an improvised bomb discovered at the main airport in Colombo had been defused.
A nationwide curfew imposed shortly after the blasts was lifted early Monday, with AFP journalists reporting a steady stream of people and tuk tuks on the streets of Negombo.
There was still a heavy security presence at the city’s St Sebastien’s Church, the scene of one of the devastating blasts.
Sri Lanka’s small Christian minority — just six percent of the 21 million-strong population — has been targeted by violence in the past, but never to such brutal effect.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police said Monday 24 people had been arrested. The government earlier said investigators would to look into whether the attackers had “overseas links”.
The powerful blasts -– six in quick succession and then two more hours later — wounded around 450 people.
The Sri Lankan government believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said Monday.
Senaratne, who is also a cabinet minister, added that the government was investigating whether the group had “international support”.
“We don’t see that only a small organisation in this country can do all that,” he said.
“We are now investigating the international support for them, and their other links, how they produced the suicide bombers here, and how they produced bombs like this.”