Sri Lanka police name Easter suicide bombers - GulfToday

Sri Lanka police name Easter suicide bombers


Soldiers arrive for deployment outside St Sebastian Church in Negombo on Wednesday. Reuters

Sri Lanka’s police on Wednesday named nine people who staged Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed 253 people, and said the attackers’ assets will be confiscated in line with anti-terror laws.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera confirmed that two of the luxury hotels were bombed by two brothers from a wealthy Colombo family involved in spice exports.

The group of militants had used one bomber at each of the locations hit on Easter Sunday, except at Shangri-La hotel where there were two suicide explosions.

One of the Shangri-La bombers was Zahran Hashim, the leader of the local militant group responsible for the audacious attacks that were claimed by the Daesh group.

Hashim headed the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) which has since been banned.

He attacked the Shangri-La in the company of fellow militant Ilham Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim.

Ilham’s elder brother Inshaf Ahmed was the man who bombed the nearby Cinnamon Grand hotel.

The third hotel to be targeted, the Kingsbury, was bombed by a man identified as Mohamed Azzam Mubarak Mohamed. His wife was now in police custody, Gunasekera said.

The St. Anthony’s Church was targeted by a local resident named Ahmed Muaz.

His brother has been arrested. The St Sebastian bomber was Mohamed Hasthun, a resident from the island’s east where Hashim was based.

The Christian Zion church in the eastern district of Batticaloa was hit by a local resident, Mohamed Nasser Mohamed Asad.

Another man who failed to set a bomb off at a de luxe hotel, but blasted his explosives at a guest house near the capital.

He was identified as Abdul Latheef who had studied both in Britain and Australia.

Shortly after the hotel bomb attacks, Fathima Ilham, the wife of the younger of the two brothers, blasted explosives strapped to herself, killing her two children and three police officers who rushed to the family home in Colombo.

“We are going to use prevention of terrorist financing laws to confiscate their property,” Gunasekera said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka stepped up security on Wednesday as political parties staged low-key May Day commemorations after calling off scheduled rallies following fears of militant bomb attacks.

Officials said more police were deployed for cordon-and-search operations in many parts of the country, while the military also re-inforced road blocks and patrols.

Several roads in the capital were closed on Wednesday as President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attended a tightly guarded public ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of president Ranasinghe Premadasa assassination.

Officials said police used extraordinary security measures for Sirisena’s public appearance to commemorate Premadasa, who was killed by a suicide bomber during a May Day rally in 1993.

“His security used three identical convoys to bring the president to the commemoration,” a police official at the function said.

“This was to make sure that no-one has advance warning about the vehicles used by the president.”

Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) cancelled its May Day celebrations and instead was holding a closed-door meeting with senior stalwarts later in the day, officials said.

Former president and current leader of the opposition, Mahinda Rajapakse -- who leads a breakaway faction of the SLFP -- also cancelled his May Day event, and was attending a low-key meeting just outside Colombo.

The country has been under a state of emergency since the attacks.

The emergency gives sweeping powers to police and the military to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.

Sirisena said a foreign mastermind may have planned the bombings, claimed Daesh, telling the militant group to “leave my country alone.”

Sirisena also warned it may be possible Daesh had launched a “new strategy” by targeting smaller countries, Sky New said on Wednesday.

A government source said on Tuesday police and other security forces across the Buddhist-majority country had been ordered to remain on high alert because the militants were expected to try to strike again, before the Holy Month of Ramadan which starts on Monday.


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