Sri Lankan President declares nationwide emergency from midnight


Colombo, Apr 22: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will declare a nationwide emergency from midnight on Monday following Easter Day blasts.

He also appointed a three-member committee headed by an apex court judge to probe the country's deadliest terror attack and submit a report within two weeks, according to media reports.

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Supreme Court judge Vijith Malalgoda, former IGP N K Ilangakoon and Former Law & Order Ministry Secretary Padamasiri Jayamanne have been appointed as members of the committee, SundayTimes reported. The committee has been instructed to submit the probe report on the explosion within two weeks to the President, the report said.

Sirisena, who was on a private visit to India and Singapore, returned to Colombo on Monday.

As many as eight bomb blasts occurred in and around Sri Lanka's capital Colombo and in the eastern city of Batticaloa on Sunday morning, just as large groups gathered at churches for Easter services.

Over 290 people were killed and nearly 500 injured in a series of blasts that shook Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Churches and luxury hotels were targeted in the deadliest incidents since the civil war ended a decade ago. As many as eight blasts occurred in and around the capital Colombo and in the eastern city of Batticaloa on Sunday morning, as large groups gathered at churches for Easter services.

Meanwhile, 24 people have been arrested so far in connection with the blasts, police say. However, authorities have not yet released details on those held.

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Tension has been growing between Buddhist-Muslim communities over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.

Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

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