The blast that took place near a church in the Kochchikade district of Sri Lanka's Colombo earlier on Monday was a controlled explosion that was carried out by bomb squads, Ada Derana news portal reported, citing the police. According to the media outlet, the police’s Special Task Force (STF) performed a controlled explosion to diffuse an explosive device found in a van parked near the church. It was reportedly the data obtained from questioning the suspects, arrested in the wake of the Sunday explosions, that helped find the suspected vehicle.
Previously Reuters reported, citing an eyewitness, about the explosion that took place in a van while the Sri Lankan bomb squad was trying to defuse an explosive device found in a suspicious parcel shortly before that. People have reportedly been evacuated from the area.
"The van exploded when the bomb defusing unit of the STF (Special Task Force) and air force tried to diffuse the bomb", the witness said, as quoted by the news agency.
At the same time, Sri Lankan police have found 87 bomb detonators at Colombo's main bus station.
— Hugh Whitfeld (@hughwhitfeld) April 22, 2019
The country remains on high alert after Sunday's bombings that hit eight places across the country: churches and hotels, as well as a residential compound. More than 1,000 army personnel have been deployed to provide security in Colombo, the commercial capital and Sri Lanka's largest city.
The death toll from the attacks currently stands at 290 people, with almost 500 others wounded. The government has vowed to pay one million rupees (about $5,722), to each victim and about $572 for the costs of funeral processions, as cabinet spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne, announced at a press conference on Monday.
As Sri Lankan Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne stated earlier in the day, the attacks were organised by a local group, Thowheed Jamath, with the help of a vast international network.
In the meantime, the country's Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando has tweeted an internal police memo from 11 April, warning that the group National Thowheed Jamath had planned to bomb Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission.
Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored. I was in Badulla last night pic.twitter.com/ssJyItJF1x— Harin Fernando (@fernandoharin) April 21, 2019