15 die in Sri Lanka raid of suspected militants connected to Easter bombings

World Today

Sri Lankan Naval soldiers stand outside damaged St. Anthony’s Church, in Colombo, Saturday, April 27, 2019. Sri Lankan security forces have found 15 bodies, including six children, after militants linked to the Easter bombings set off explosives during a raid on a house in the country’s east. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

A deadly explosion has rocked a neighborhood in eastern Sri Lanka.

It occurred during a gun battle with security forces, tracking suspects from the Easter Sunday bombings.

CGTN’s Ravinder Bawa reports from neighboring India, where authorities have issued a terrorist alert in southern states, which lie across the strait from Sri Lanka.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, police party reaches the spot to assess the aftermath of explosions and shootout of the previous night. In the Eastern town of Kalumunai, 15 people, including six children, have been killed of which three are of suspected suicide bombers.

“The police, the special task force and the Sri Lanka army deployed to the house where the occupants opened fire on the authorities as they came in and explosions were heard at the same time. In the search that followed, the bodies of three male terrorists, three females and six children were found. Three other bodies of suspected terrorists were also found in the vicinity of the house,” Air Force spokesperson, Captain Gihan Seneviratne said.

More than 100 suspects have been arrested so far on suspicion of having links with the recent terror attacks.

Search operations are ongoing. In another raid, security forces seized a large cache of explosives, detonators and Islamic State material from a garage in Samanduarai, not very far from Kalmunai. This could be the lead to the linkage between the local extremist group Natioanl Towheed Jammat and ISIL.

“We know there is a link with them, but I just cannot confirm it without proper investigation,” said military spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu.

In another search operation in Erakkandi, Trincomalee, the Navy arrested a man with 130 kilos of explosives and 215 detonators.

Another suspect was arrested with 49 knives in Maskeliya

The police claim that the driver of the mastermind of the blasts, Zahran Hashmi, has also been arrested.

Experts say that all the revelations show that the government did not take this threat seriously and now it is a force to reckon with.

“They not only employ bombs now, they’re armed with sophisticated weapons. That indicates they are well organized now and they have combatants and they are terrorists, so we have to take it seriously,” said former Sri Lanka army chief, Field marshal Sarath Fonseka.

An indefinite curfew was clamped in the affected areas of Eastern province. Overall, security on the coastal borders has been beefed up. All military branches have been pressed into action.

According to the government sources, these forces are not restricted to the Eastern province, but, the central and the western province are also affected. They accept that they are a formidable force to deal with. But, now they are prepared to take them head-on.

Bobby Chacon discusses Sri Lanka security following a deadly terrorist raid

CGTN’s Frances Kuo discusses the ramifications of Sri Lanka’s terrorist bombings with Bobby Chacon, retired FBI special agent and expert in criminal and counter-terrorism investigations.