The Sri Lankan government suspects that a local Islamist extremist group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks that killed nearly 300 people, government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said Monday.
Senaratne, who is also a cabinet minister, added that the government was investigating whether the group had “international support.”
Sri Lankan police found 87 bomb detonators at the main bus station in the capital, Colombo, the spokesperson added.
Sri Lankan authorities have ordered a state of emergency to be introduced from midnight Monday.
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 vandalizing of Buddhist statues.
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.
The death toll from attacks on churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka rose significantly to 290, and about 500 people were also wounded, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said on Monday.