Horrifying moment a white van explodes in a fireball in Sri Lanka
Horrifying moment a white van explodes in a fireball in Sri Lanka as police try to defuse three bombs inside a day after Easter Sunday terror attack
- Police inspected the vehicle after locals reported it had not moved since Sunday
- They tried to defuse it but it exploded in a fireball near one of bombed churches
- The further blast today has heightened fears of still-undiscovered explosives
This is the moment a white van exploded into flames today as Sri Lankan police searched the scene of the Easter Sunday terror attack.
Police found three bombs inside the vehicle after locals reported it had been parked near St Anthony’s Shrine, one of the bombing targets, since Sunday.
They tried to defuse the weapons but they detonated instead and sent pedestrians fleeing in panic.
No injuries were reported but the further blast on Monday has heightened fears of still-undiscovered explosives on the streets of Colombo.
Police found 12 detonators scattered at Colombo’s main bus depot on Monday and hours later found another 75 detonators at a garbage dump in the same area.
Footage captured the moment that the van exploded into a fireball and sent debris scattering across the street.
Special Task Force bomb squad officers had grown suspicious of the van after it reportedly had not moved since the attacks.
The shrine, as well as three five-star hotels which were attacked on Sunday, were popular with foreign visitors.
Sri Lanka’s president has given the military sweeping war-time powers to arrest and detain suspects following the co-ordinated bombings.
Danger: Sri Lankan bomb squad officers try to defuse three explosives they found in a white van a day after the terrorist attacks which killed almost 300 people in the island nation
Explosion: The van explodes in a fireball close to St Anthony’s Shrine, one of the churches which was targeted in the Easter Sunday attack
On Monday, armed security personnel stood guard on street corners in central Colombo that were largely deserted, with most shops closed.
Suspicion has fallen on Islamic cleric Zahran Hashim as officials blamed a group called National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) for the attacks.
Sources in Sri Lanka described Hashim, reported by local media to be a radical cleric known for posting incendiary YouTube videos, as the founder of NTJ.
No group has officially claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Sri Lankan police say NTJ were the subject of an intelligence warning ten days before.
Debris: A view of the flaming wreckage of the white van as pedestrians take cover in Colombo
The terror group is thought to have split off from another hardline Islamist organisation in the South Asian country.
Police sources said the terrorists who targeted the Shangri La hotel had ‘pamphlets and paraphernalia’ associated with extremist Islamic ideology in their hotel room.
Officials believe an ‘international’ terror group may have been involved, raising fears that al-Qaeda or ISIS may have been behind the attacks.
ISIS fanatics have already praised the atrocities as revenge for the Christchurch mosques shooting, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist activity online.
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