During a raid by Sri Lankan security forces, fifteen people including six children have died on their home as suspected to link with suicide bombers. Among the dead three-cornered suicide bombers detonated their explosives and others traded gunfire with police.
Military sources confirmed that police and soldiers fought a gun battle with occupants of the house for more than an hour on Friday night, during which three explosions rocked the property near the eastern town of Kalmunai, about 230 miles (370km) from the capital, Colombo. A search action on Saturday morning found the bodies of three men, three women and six children inside the house, police said.
Sri Lanka’s prime minister has said authorities are now focused on rounding up supporters and sympathisers of the terrorist cell that carried out the string of bombings last Sunday that killed at least 253 people and injured hundreds more. Another raid about nine miles away in Sammanthurai unearthed an Islamic State flag and uniforms similar to those worn by the suspected bombers in a video they made pledging allegiance to the group’s leader. There were no casualties among the security forces, the police said.
Authorities had been desperately searching for Hashim after naming his group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), as the perpetrators of the attack, but announced on Friday that he had been killed in the hotel bombing. DNA tests were being done to conclusively establish it was Hashim, officials said. The government is on the defensive over its failure to heed a foreign intelligence warning that NTJ was planning suicide bombings on churches. Intelligence sources from abroad also suspecting the probability of more suicide attacks and citizens have been asked to avoid worship places in Sri Lanka for time being.