COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—Sri Lankan authorities said an international terror group likely supported an obscure local Islamist group in carrying out a series of bombings that killed at least 290 people on Easter Sunday, weeks after the government had received warnings from the U.S. and India about a possible attack.
Government officials of this island nation said some of the suicide bombers and others arrested were linked to an obscure radical Islamist group known as National Thowheeth Jamath, a group the government singled out to police for monitoring as a possible threat after the foreign security services issued their warning.
The group, whose name translates to National Unification Group, is known to have expressed hard-line views. The local Islamist group originated in 2009 on Sri Lanka’s east coast, where it preached a conservative form of Islam known as Salafism. The group last year came to be known for defacing Buddhist imagery and inciting religious conflict.
The sophistication of the Easter-morning attacks indicated to Sri Lankan and international terror experts that whoever carried them out likely had help from experienced international terrorists, perhaps even al Qaeda or Islamic State, Sri Lankan officials said.
Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown University professor and terrorism expert, said National Thowheed Jamath almost certainly had help from international Islamic militant groups. It was unlikely, he said, that an organization that “was doing vandalism” a year ago would “suddenly have the ability to carry out high-casualty suicide attacks against multiple targets.”
No one has publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have triggered public outrage over the government’s failure to stop them.
I wonder what the kids were doing the house with all those terrorists?
Sri Lanka troops kill four suspected IS gunmen
Colombo, April 27, 2019 (AFP) - Sri Lankan security forces exchanged fire with suspected Islamic State affiliated militants and killed at least four of them in the east of the country, police and the military said Saturday.
Gunmen opened fire on troops when they attempted to storm a house in the town of Kalmunai, military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said. "In our retaliatory fire, two gunmen were killed,” he said adding that a civilian caught in the crossfire was also killed.
Police later said clearing operations on Saturday showed a total of four suspected suicide bombers had died during the overnight confrontation.
“We found four bodies of suspected suicide bombers,” the police statement said, also confirming one civilian was killed in the crossfire, while three others escaped with injuries.