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Sri Lanka placed under state of emergency after Easter bombings

Anthony David, DPA on

Published in News & Features

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka was placed under a state of emergency late Monday as authorities aimed to maintain security and essential services during investigations into the multiple suicide bombings at churches and hotels that killed more than 290 people the day before.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena declared the state of emergency "in the interest of public security, the preservation of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community," according to a special gazette notification.

The declaration gives security forces special powers, including the right to search and arrest individuals.

The state of emergency took effect after Sri Lanka's Security Council decided to give sweeping powers to security forces and police carrying out search operations and investigations. Similar powers were given to the police and security forces when they were fighting Tamil rebels in the north and eastern parts of the country in a conflict that ended in 2009.

"I feel that the emergency powers should be given at least for a few days in order to carry out security operations," Army commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake told journalists.

Also Monday, Sirisena appointed a Supreme Court judge-led team to investigate the attacks.

 

Supreme Court judge Vijith Malalgoda will head the team, which will also include former inspector general of police NK Illangakoon and ex-administrative officer Padmasiri Jayamanna. The team is expected to report back in two weeks.

The international police organization Interpol has also sent a team of experts to Sri Lanka at the request of local authorities to support ongoing investigations into the bombings, Interpol said in a statement Monday.

The experts include those with an expertise in crime scene examination, explosives, counterterrorism and victim identification.

"Information to help identify individuals linked to these attacks could come from anywhere in the world, which is where Interpol's global network and databases can prove vital, especially for officers on the ground," the statement read.

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