Arrests after Sri Lanka death toll rises to 290

SRI LANKA (Reuters / DERANA TV / POOVALINGAM PREM KUMAR / CTV) – Police said on Monday 24 people had been arrested, a day after a string of bombings at churches and luxury hotels across the Indian Ocean island killed 290 people and wounded about 500. Michelle Hennessy reports.

Dozens of people have been arrested in Sri Lanka as questions continue about who was responsible for the Easter attack that’s killed hundreds.

A string of bombs tore through four luxury hotels, and three churches – as Christians gathered for Easter Sunday (April 21) services.

Most of the victims were Sri Lankans – and more than 30 foreigners from elsewhere in Asia, Europe and the U.S. have been reportedly killed.

But more than 24 hours after the bombings, there’s still been no claim of responsibility.

The U.S. state department updated its travel advisory for Sri Lanka, saying quote – ‘terrorists’ were continuing to plot possible attacks in the country.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister said on Sunday that the government did have prior information about possible attacks on churches.

He said it involved a little-known Islamist group – but said ministers had not been informed.

Three police officers were killed when security forces raided a house in the capital, several hours after the attack.

The concern now is that it could spark a renewal of communal violence.

Police reported late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque, and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in different parts of the country.

The government has blocked social media and messaging sites, making information hard to come by.

So far, police say one of the attack sites is suspected to have involved a suicide bombing with little information on the others.

The attacks have drawn strong condemnation from politicians and religious leaders.

The Pope branded the blasts as “cruel violence” in his Easter Sunday message.

The death toll could still rise – as hospitals treat around 500 people with injuries from the blasts.

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