​Van Explodes Outside Sri Lankan Church As Experts Attempt To Defuse Bomb

A van has exploded outside a Sri Lankan church as experts tried to defuse a bomb, just one day after a series of explosions killed hundreds.

"The van exploded when the bomb defusing unit of the STF (Special Task Force) and air force tried to diffuse the bomb," a witness told Reuters..

The news comes just one day after a series of suicide bombs went off at various locations in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo - including at three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district and the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels.

Police also carried out raids on two addresses - one in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, and one near the district of Dematagoda - where there were two further explosions and three officers were killed.

The death toll has now risen to 290, but the attacks also injured around 500 more.

Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine. Credit: PA
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine. Credit: PA

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne has said the Sri Lankan government thinks an 'international network' could be behind the Easter Sunday attacks.

"We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country," Senaratne said.

"There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded."

In a tweet, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the attacks have killed 'many innocent people' and seemed to be a 'well-coordinated attempt' to create 'murder, mayhem and anarchy'.

A nationwide emergency will be declared from midnight (19:30 GMT) on Monday, the president's office has said.

The government has also imposed a curfew until 4am on Tuesday, which will be followed by a national day of mourning.

According to the BBC, police have arrested 24 people in a series of raids.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@TheReelofNews

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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