24 arrested for Sri Lanka blasts: Police

24 arrested for Sri Lanka blasts: Police

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed nearly 300 people, officials said Monday (Apr 22).

Authorities have not made public details on those held after Sunday's attacks. But a police source earlier told AFP that 13 of the men were detained at two locations in and around Colombo.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the government earlier said investigators would to look into whether the attackers had "overseas links".

READ: Sri Lanka under curfew after bomb blasts as death toll surpasses 200 

At least two of the eight attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police and other sources, and three police were killed when another suicide bomber detonated explosives during a raid on a house where suspects were.

A government source said President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.

There were fears the attacks could spark a renewal of communal violence, with police reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.

Sri Lanka had been at war for decades with Tamil separatists but extremist violence had been on the wane since the civil war ended 10 years ago.

The South Asian nation of about 22 million people has Christian, Muslim and Hindu populations of between about eight and 12 per cent.

On Apr 25, the Sri Lankan government revised the death toll to 253.

Source: Agencies/zl