15 killed in raid on Islamist hideout: police
Published: 10:24 AM, 27 April 2019 Updated: 02:37 PM, 27 April 2019
At least 15 people, including six children, were killed as suicide bombers blew themselves up when cornered by security forces in eastern Sri Lanka, police said on Saturday.
Three men set off explosives killing three other women and six children inside what was believed to an Islamist safe house near the town of Kalmunai on Friday night, police said.
“Three other men, also believed to be suicide bombers, were found dead outside the house,” police said in a statement.
“The gun battle began on Friday night after police tipped off soldiers to a suspected safe house near the town of Sammanthurai, where authorities said the militants detonated three explosions and opened fire. At least three others were wounded in the attack,” said police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara.
He said that some of the dead likely were militants who blew themselves up in suicide bombings. Earlier, the military said at least one civilian had been killed in the attack.
Raids and police curfews shut down areas of eastern Sri Lanka as Catholic leaders canceled Sunday Masses indefinitely. Officials also urged Muslims to stay home for prayers in an extraordinary call by the clergy to curtail worship as fear of more attacks plagued the island nation.
Maj. Gen. Aruna Jayasekara, the local military commander said, “Soldiers and police waited until daylight Saturday to carry out further raids in Eastern Province given houses being built so close together.”
Meanwhile, the military said security forces had recovered explosives, detonators, “suicide kits,” military uniforms and Islamic State group flags in the ongoing raids.
In the same area, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said, “Officers acting on information from intelligence officials found 150 sticks of blasting gelatin and 100,000 small metal balls, as well as a van and clothing suspected to be used by those involved in the Easter attack. Suicide bomb vests often are packed with such balls to increase the shrapnel in the explosion, making them even deadlier.”
Officials from the police to the prime minister say militants remain on the loose and have access to explosives. That has led to increased security at shrines, churches, temples, and mosques across the multiethnic country of 21 million off the southern coast of India.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told journalists Friday that church officials had seen a leaked security document describing Roman Catholic churches and other denominations as a major target.
Ranjith, who is the archbishop of Colombo, asked the faithful across Sri Lanka to stay home for their own safety. “We don’t want repetitions,” Ranjith said.
On Saturday, cleaning crews arrived at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, where broken glass still littered a blood-stained floor. They collected debris, tossing it into a truck parked outside as a heavy contingent of security forces stood guard.
The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka has warned the public to stay away from places of worship over the weekend, a stark alert underlining that authorities believe that attackers remain at large.
Authorities told Muslims to worship at home rather than attend communal Friday prayers that are the most important religious service of the week, but several mosques held services anyway. At a mosque in Colombo, police armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles stood guard outside for hundreds of worshippers as the imam inside and others wept while praying to Allah to help their country.
The Easter attackers are “not Muslims. This is not Islam. This is an animal,” said Akurana Muhandramlage Jamaldeen Mohamed Jayfer, the chairman of the mosque. “We don’t have a word (strong enough) to curse them.”
Sri Lanka’s government, crippled from a long political crisis between the president and prime minister last year, promised swift action to capture militants still at large. President Maithripala Sirisena said about 140 people had been identified as having links to the Islamic State group.
“A major search operation has been undertaken,” Sirisena said. “Every household in the country will be checked.”
Earlier Friday, police confirmed the militant group’s leader, Mohamed Zahran, died in the suicide bombing at the Shangri-La Hotel, one of six hotels and churches attacked. Zahran appeared in an Islamic State video claiming responsibility for the coordinated assault, and authorities in both Sri Lanka and Australia confirmed links between IS and the attack.
On Thursday night, Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry drastically reduced its estimated death toll from the bombings. A statement said “approximately” 253 people had been killed, nearly one-third lower than an earlier police estimate of 359 dead.
The discrepancy was not immediately explained, but it fits a pattern of confused reports by Sri Lankan officials that have muddled the investigation.
On Friday, police apologized to a Brown University student and a human rights activist after they posted her picture to Twitter and erroneously identified her as a wanted militant. The police then deleted their Twitter account.
- No harmful contents in pasteurized milk brands, BSTI to HC
- JP-led govt will be formed in future: GM Quader
- Army Chief to visit United Nations Peacekeeping Mission
- Dementia risk tied to common drugs
- Momen sought Beijing’s support to convince Myanmar
- Action against govt officials if drug addict: HM
- FR Tower: ACC’s case accusing Ex-RAJUK chair among 25
- PM’s good news for Tigers
- Brian Lara hospitalized after chest pain
- Who responsible for collapsed bridges?
- Exemption with financial benefit by SI
- All pasteurised milk including Pran-Milk Vita-Arong adulterated
- Holey Artisan attack case: Five more policemen testify
- England wins toss, bowl first
- ECNEC clears 10 projects
- PM orders to quick repair of shaky bridges
- ‘King of Pop’ Michael’s 10th death anniv today
- Owners of 31 brick kilns sued
- Writ files to correct mistakes on English 2nd paper
- Suman in HC seeking ban on unnecessary C-section
- Six Killed as bus falls into ditch in India
- Heat wave may abate some places
- JSS activist shot dead in Bandarban
- Elderly man dies as 90kg man falls on him
- US hits Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei with sanctions
- Australia-England high voltage match today
- 3 human traffickers killed in Teknaf gunfight
- Sarafa Infotech’s new director Soroj Mehedi
- Shakib star as Bangladesh beat Afghanistan
- Where Shakib is first
- All News »
- Sarafa Infotech’s new director Soroj Mehedi
- AL to make it`s 70th anniversary memorable
- Bangladesh achieves fastest growth in Asia-Pacific
- Europe’s oldest person ‘Nonna Peppa’ died at 116
- None can escape creating sabotage: HM
- Mushfiqur`s ton in vain as Bangladesh lost to Australia
- Probe report submission deferred again
- RAB revealed mystery of Sensational Shakib murder
- England beat Afghanistan by 150 runs
- No exempt, although it is MP-Minister’s house: Rezaul
- PM inaugurates environment fair, tree plantation campaign & tree fair
- UNHCR envoy Miyavi hoped Rohingya crisis’ quick solve
- Ex-MP Rana gets bail
- 3 farmers killed in Natore road crash
- Ruling party gibes on BNP maiden day
- ‘No Dorai’: Surfing base film with Chatgaiya language
- Boat capsizes at Sadarghat: two minors’ body recovered
- 2 female RMG workers’ bodies recovered in Ashulia
- 3 to die, 7 get life for Kishoreganj murder
- Ayub Bachchu Chottor being built with Rupali Guitar
- Williamson ton, Grandhomme power New Zealand in thriller
- Gold, Diamond, Silver gets validation in fair
- Happy birthday to football magician Messi
- Take development schemes protecting environment: PM
- Hajj cost in Bangladesh less than India: Minister
- IU publishes Fazil, Kamil exams’ results
- Arrest warrant against Pran’s MD
- Rainfall may increase in next 72 hrs
- UN praises Bangladesh peacekeepers
- PM’s China visit in July; plan to boost bilateral ties