Sri Lanka attacks: President bans two groups linked to Easter Sunday bombings

Ban follows the death of 15 people, including six children, in military raid on suspected terrorist safe house in Kalmunai

Adam Forrest
Sunday 28 April 2019 00:39
Sri Lankan police raid 'bomb factory'

Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena has banned two groups linked to the Easter Sunday bombings under emergency powers.

National Thawheed Jammath, or NTJ, and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem, or JMI, would be banned by presidential decree, allowing the government to confiscate any property belonging to the two organisations, his office announced.

It follows the death of 15 people, including six children, after a military raid on a suspected terrorist safe house descended into a gun battle in the eastern coastal town of Kalmunai, near Sammanthurai.

The raid on suspects linked to the Easter suicide bombings turned violent after three explosions hit the building. Officials believe the blasts were caused by militants blowing themselves up as the search was underway.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said that a woman and girl who survived the explosions were critically injured and are being treated at a nearby hospital in Ampara District.

The wounded woman and child are the wife and daughter of suspected mastermind of the bombings, Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Zahran, his family said.

“Yes, the wife and daughter were injured in the attack,” said Mohamed Hashim Mathaniya, sister of Zahran.

Isis claimed that three of its members had clashed with Sri Lankan police for several hours before detonating their explosive vests on them in Kalmunai, the militant group’s news agency Amaq said.

Policemen remove body from the site of battle between security forces and suicide bombers in Kalmunai

The group said 17 policemen were killed or injured in the attack, but did not give evidence for its claim.

Sri Lanka’s military said security forces recovered explosives, detonators, “suicide kits”, military uniforms and Isis flags during Friday’s raids.

The Easter suicide bombings, claimed by the Isis group earlier this week, targeted churches and hotels and killed at least 250 people.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

The government said nine homegrown, well-educated suicide bombers carried out the attacks, eight of whom had been identified and one of whom was a woman.

Sri Lankan authorities are trying to track down 140 people believed linked to. Police have detained at least 76 people, including foreigners from Syria and Egypt, in their investigations so far.

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments