Sri Lanka blasts: Local Islamist group could be behind attacks, says government

Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has expressed the possibility that a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) could be behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks that killed 290 people.

Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne, who is also a cabinet minister, said that the authorities were probing whether the group had “global support”.

Documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka’s police chief released 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, an extremist Muslim group that has been linked to the vandalising of Buddhist statues.

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

87 bomb detonators found at main bus station

Sri Lankan police discovered 87 bomb detonators at the main bus station in the capital, Colombo, on Monday, a spokesman said, a day after suicide bombers attacked churches and hotels killing 290 people and wounding about 500.

Security forces are conducting searches across the island to find those behind the bombs. No group has claimed responsibility.

(With agency inputs)