Sri Lanka Bombings: At Least 15 Found Dead As Police Raid Suspected Islamist Militant Hideout
The bodies of more than 15 people, including six children, have been discovered by Sri Lankan security forces in a house on the morning of Saturday, April 27, hours after explosions and a fierce gun battle erupted at a suspected Islamist militant hideout on the east coast of Sri Lanka. The four suicide bombers had detonated their explosives and blown themselves up, also killing three women and six children inside the house, which was believed to be an Islamist militant hideout, on the night of April 26. The house was cordoned off after the overnight raid but the security forces waited till dawn to search the house, as it is in a crowded neighbourhood. Three other men believed to be suicide bombers had been shot and were found dead outside the house, reported The Guardian. According to police, a woman and a child were rescued from the house. Both of them were wounded in the attack and are believed to be the wife and daughter of the suspected mastermind of Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, Mohammed Zahran Hashim. Police confirmed on Hashim died in the suicide attack at the Shangri-La hotel. According to a report by CNN, authorities in Sri Lanka had seized a large cache of explosives, 1,00,000 ball bearings and ISIS uniforms and flags from a garage a few miles from the shootout on Friday.
Islamic State claims three militants
The Islamic State group claimed three of the militants killed in the clashes with police in Eastern Sri Lanka. In a statement published on April 28 by the extremists’ Aamaq news agency, IS gave their noms du Guerre (war name) as Abu Hammad, Abu Sufyan, and Abu al-Qa’qa and said that three of them lured security forces to the house they were hiding in, before detonating explosives. The group also claims that 17 police officers were also killed in the clashes. However, that was disputed by the authorities. The number of dead and injured people in the attacks has often been exaggerated by the group, reported The New York Times. After the deadly Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lankan authorities are rounding up supporters of the terrorist group which was responsible for the attacks that killed over 200 people in the country. Police said that they were trying to track down 70 people, who they believe have links with ISIS, which claimed the Easter Sunday attacks. Ten arrests were also made across the country on April 26, bringing the total number detained to 80 since last Sunday.
After the raid, the Sri Lankan government announced that anyone found guilty of spreading fake information would be imprisoned for up to three to five years. According to them, since the Easter Sunday attacks, a number of public disturbances have been reported in the country due to fake information.
Muslim families flee homes
Fears of retaliatory sectarian violence have caused Muslim communities to flee their homes amid bomb scares, lockdowns, and security sweeps, reported Al Jazeera. Several Muslims reported harassment based on their religion. The government even told Muslims to stay inside their homes for Friday prayers. However, some mosques defied the call. Police armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles guarded hundreds of worshipers, standing outside a mosque in Colombo. The Chairman of the mosque, Akurana Muhandramlage Jamaldeen Mohamed Jayfer said, “The attackers responsible for Easter Sunday bombings are not Muslims. This is not Islam. This is an animal.” He also said that they don’t have words strong enough to curse them.