A day after nearly 300 people were killed in a series of suicide attacks on Easter Sunday, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena declared a nationwide emergency from Monday midnight.
Move comes after Sri Lanka hinted at involvement of local Islamic group.
There are concerns that terror suspects may try escaping by sea.
Nearly 300 people were killed and 500 injured in Easter Sunday attacks.
The Indian Coast Guard has been placed on high alert along the maritime border to prevent any attempt by those behind the Sri Lanka blasts to enter India, sources in the central government said today.
The move came hours after the Sri Lanka declared that a local Islamic extremist group — the National Thowheeth Jama’ath — may be behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks that killed nearly 300 people on Easter Sunday. There were concerns that those behind the attack may try to escape the island nation by sea.
According to news agency ANI, a number of ships and Dorniers — aircraft used to conduct surveillance — have been deployed to identify suspicious boats along the maritime border. There are fears that the terrorists may try targeting places in India if they succeed in sneaking in. Pakistani terrorists had entered the country through the sea route to carry out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which resulted in the death of 166 people.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena has declared a nationwide emergency from midnight on Monday. “The government decided to gazette the clauses related to prevention of terrorism to emergency regulation and gazette it by midnight,” his media unit said. It clarified that the measure would be confined to dealing with terrorism, and not impinge on the people’s freedom of expression.
Suicide bombers hit three churches and three high-end hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 290 people and injuring 500 others. The casualties included dozens of foreigners and five Indians. As many as 24 suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the attacks, a police source told news agency AFP.
Besides the Emergency, the Sri Lankan government has ordered a night-time curfew at a time when tensions are running high. According to the government information department, it will extend from 8 pm on Monday to 4 am the next day.
Not much is known about the National Thowheeth Jama’ath, which has until now been linked only with instances of vandalism involving Buddhist statues. Authorities are investigating if “international” elements had helped carry out the attacks.
Several world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, conveyed their condolences to those hit by the terror attacks. “Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region.
India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted soon after news of the incident emerged.