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The Latest: Warning letter raises questions in Sri Lanka

The Latest on the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka (all times local):

Noon

A warning shared with Sri Lankan security agencies on April 11 said a local group was planning a suicide terror attack against churches in Sri Lanka.

People pray during a nationwide three-minutes silence as a tribute to Easter Sunday attack victims in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP PhotoGemunu Amarasinghe)

Priyalal Disanayaka, the deputy inspector general of police, signed the letter addressed to the directors of four Sri Lankan security agencies. He asked the four security directors to "pay extra attention" to the places and VIPs in their care.

The intelligence report attached to his letter called the group National Towheed Jamaar, said it was targeting "some important churches" in a suicide terrorist attack that was planned to take place "shortly." The report named six individuals likely to be involved in the plot.

On Monday, Sri Lanka's health minister held up a copy of the report while describing its contents, spurring questions about what Sri Lanka police had done to protect the public from an attack.

9 a.m.

As a state of emergency took effect Tuesday giving the Sri Lankan military war-time powers, police arrested 40 suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers and the owner of a house where some of them lived.

Sri Lanka's president gave the military a wider berth to detain and arrest suspects — powers that were used during the 26-year civil war but withdrawn when it ended in 2009.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said the death toll from Sunday's attacks rose to 310.

President Maithripala Sirisena has declared a day of mourning for Tuesday, a day after officials disclosed that warnings had been received weeks ago of the possibility of an attack by the radical Muslim group blamed for the bloodshed.