Sri Lanka blames Islamists for Easter attacks as death toll hits 290

Sri Lanka said Monday it believed a local Islamist extremist group was behind deadly suicide bomb blasts that killed nearly 300 people as it announced a national state of emergency beginning midnight.

Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said investigators were looking at whether the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) group had “international support” for the deadly Easter Sunday attacks on churches and luxury hotels.

Wary of stirring ethnic and religious tensions, officials have provided few details about 24 people arrested since the attacks.

Not much is known about the NTJ, but documents seen by AFP show Sri Lanka’s police chief issued a warning on April 11, saying a “foreign intelligence agency” had reported the group was planning attacks on churches and the Indian high commission.

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