• The Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 people in connection with a series of devastating suicide bombings at hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that left nearly 300 people dead and more than 500 injured.
• No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but a police officer alerted security officials in an advisory 10 days ago about a threat to churches from a radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath. The authorities, however, failed to act on the information, government officials said.
• A nationwide curfew was lifted on Monday morning, but major social media and messaging services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, remained blocked by the government to curb the spread of misinformation.
Death toll rises
The death toll rose significantly overnight to 290, the police said on Monday, adding that about 500 people had also been wounded in the attacks on sites across the country.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry has said at least 27 foreigners were among those killed. Those countries that have confirmed their citizens were killed include the United States, Britain, China, Japan and Portugal.
Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesman, would not reveal how many people were killed at each of the nine sites, including three churches and three hotels.
Who are National Thowheeth Jama’ath?
As the authorities investigate the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, their focus has centered on National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known group that experts said promotes Islamic terrorist ideology in Southeast Asia.
The group has a reputation for vandalizing Buddhist statues but little history of carrying out terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka said Sunday that he had not been informed of the advisory 10 days ago about a threat from a radical Islamist group, leading to concerns of an intelligence failure.
Social media is shut down
Sri Lankan officials temporarily blocked several social media networks, including Facebook and Instagram. Users also reported being unable to access the messaging services WhatsApp and Viber.
Though Sunday’s attacks have no known link to social media, Sri Lanka has a troubled history with violence incited on the platforms. Its ban was an extraordinary step that reflects growing global concerns about social media.