Sri Lanka attacks: Fresh explosion near Colombo church as 87 bomb detonators found

Reuters reported a further blast happened near St Anthony's shrine in the Kochchikade district of Colombo on Monday, a day after a series of suicide bombers targeted churches and high-end hotels in the island nation. Officials are carrying out searches to find those behind the attacks. The 87 "low-explosive detonators" were found at the main bus station  - Bastian Mawatha Private station - in Pettah, a neighbourhood in the east of the centre of the capital, a government spokesman said.

The latest explosion occured in a van near a church in the distric of Kochchikade as security officials were working to defuse an explosive they had recently stumbled upon. 

The bomb squad were focused on an area which was among the places where scores of people were killed in attacks on Easter Sunday. 

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

The country's president is set to implement a national emergency at midnight on Monday. 

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said area around the shrine was clear of civilians when the van was being examined. 

The vehicle is believed to have been used by those who carried out the attack on St Anthony’s Shrine on Sunday.

One reporter on the ground said there was "chaos" when it went off and poeple "responded in hysteria".

Thie state of emergency will give police and the military more powers to detain and interrogate people without court orders.

President Maithripala Sirisena is seeking assistance from foreign powers to trace international links to the seven blasts which killed 290 and injured more than 500 people.

No group has claimed responsibilty for the attack but a local extreme Muslims are believed to have been behind them. 

Health minister Rajitha Senaratne said he believed the Islamist group National Towheed Jamath (NTJ) was responsible. 

Pope Francis has called for universal condemnation of what he sai were "never justifiable terrorist, inhuman acts".

Hours after Sunday's attacks, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government had some prior information about a possible attack by Islamist extremists.

Reuters reported it had seen a domestic intelligence report dated April 11 which said a foreign intelligence agency had warned the authorities of possible attacks.

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