Sri Lanka bomb blasts: Coordinated attacks with the aid of international militants

Sri Lanka bomb blasts: Coordinated attacks with the aid of international militants

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan officials said that the coordinated bombings of churches and hotels across the country on Easter Sunday had been carried out by National Thowheeth Jamaat, a little-known radical Islamist group, with help from international militants.

Rajitha Senaratne, the Sri Lankan health minister, blamed the group at a news conference in Colombo, the capital, adding: “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

The view is also in line with counter terrorism and security experts.

“The target selection and attack type make me very skeptical that this was carried out by a local group without any outside involvement,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a specialist in Sri Lankan extremism at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a counter-terrorism research group based in London.

“There’s no reason for local extremist groups to attack churches, and little reason to attack tourists,” he added.

The government announced that it was asking other countries for help in uncovering international links, and that it was assuming emergency powers in order to investigate the attacks. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been enforced for the second consecutive night.

Yesterday, the governor of the Eastern Province, Mahamood Lebbe Alim Mohamed Hizbullah denied that the involvement of the group since the investigation was ongoing.

In a related development, the multiple bomb blasts near churches and hotels on Easter Sunday has resulted in a petrol bomb being thrown into a mosque located in a majority Muslim area.

“Last night one petrol bomb was thrown into a mosque in the Puttalam area. Somebody threw it into the mosque at midnight,” said The Leaders Online’s Sri Lanka correspondent, Ashraf A Samad.

“It is 350 metres from Puttalam with 60% Muslim population,” he said.

On the ongoing curfew and tightened security, he said the media are required to gain an authorisation letter from the security forces to gain access to the airport and hospital.

“The curfew has been imposed from dusk to 4am.


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