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Breaking: Sri Lanka government declares state of emergency

Sri Lanka government has ordered a state of emergency to be introduced from midnight Monday following the deadly Easter attacks, the president’s office said.

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Sri Lankan hospital workers transport a body on a trolley at a hospital morgue following an explosion at a church in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. – A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing nearly 160 people, including dozens of foreigners. (Photo AFP)

The special measures are being brought in “to allow the police and the three forces to ensure public security,” the statement said, referring to the army, navy and air force.

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Also, the Sri Lankan government believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks that killed nearly 300 people, 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.”

Documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka’s police chief issued a warning on April 11, saying that a “foreign intelligence agency” had reported NTJ was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.

Not much is known about the NTJ, a radical Muslim group that has been linked to the vandalising of Buddhist statues.

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A police source told AFP that all 24 people in custody in connection with the attacks belong to an “extremist” group, but did not specify further.

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