Sri Lanka - Bombings 207 people & 400+ wounded

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Bodies of 15 found after gun battle on Sri Lanka's eastern coast
Three men set off explosives killing three other women and six children
Published: April 27, 2019 Reuters , AFP and AP

190427 Sri Lankan police and army soldiers

Sri Lankan police and army soldiers secure the site after an explosion and a gunbattle in Kalmunai, eastern Sri Lanka Saturday, April 27, 2019.Image Credit: AP

Colombo: Update:
A girl and a woman have survived a fiery explosion at a suspected militant safe house in eastern Sri Lanka that killed 15 people during a raid linked to the Easter bombings.

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

Sri Lankan security forces have been clearing the safe house following a Friday night gunbattle between soldiers and suspected militants. Authorities say the militants set off three explosions and opened fire.
Police say they found 15 bodies including six children at the house.

Pictures by The Associated Press show the charred remains of one child. The body of another child can be seen in a green T-shirt with the words "good boy" written on the back.
The bodies of an adult woman and man were found after the explosion with their clothes burned off.
The bodies of 15 people, including six children, were discovered at the site of a fierce overnight gun battle on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, a military spokesman said on Saturday, six days after a rash of suicide bomber attacks that killed more than 250 people.
Suicide bombers blew themselves up when cornered by security forces in eastern Sri Lanka, police said on Saturday.



AFP news agency
✔@AFP


#UPDATE Fifteen people including six children die during a Sri Lankan security forces operation in the aftermath of the Easter attacks, as three cornered suicide bombers blow themselves up and others are shot dead http://u.afp.com/JfiY pic.twitter.com/Z1bmZ7gZaK
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10:09 AM - Apr 27, 2019
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Three men set off explosives killing three other women and six children inside what was believed to a safe house near the town of Kalmunai on Friday night, police said.

"Three other men, also believed to be suicide bombers, were found dead outside the house," police said in a statement.

Police backed by troops exchanged fire with those inside the house for over an hour, a military official said, adding that the bodies were recovered early Saturday following a search operation.

Gunmen opened fire on troops when they attempted to storm the house under cover of darkness, military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said, adding that a civilian had got caught in the crossfire and died.

The joint operation was carried out following a tip-off that those responsible for the Easter suicide bombings were holed up in a built up area of Kalmunai, 370 kilometres east of the capital.

There were no casualties among the security forces, the police said.

The clashes came hours after the security forces raided a nearby location where they believe radicals recorded a video pledge to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi before carrying out the deadly Easter bombings.

Police said they found a Daesh flag and uniforms similar to those worn by the eight fighters for the video before they launched Sunday's attacks against three luxury hotels and three churches, killing 253.

"We have found the backdrop the group used to record their video," the police said in an earlier statement on Friday night.
Daesh released the video two days after the attack.

Police showed the clothing and the flag on national television, as well as some 150 sticks of dynamite and about 100,000 ball bearings seized from the house.

Security forces armed with emergency powers have stepped up search operations for extremists responsible for the bombings.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/bodies-of-15-found-after-gun-battle-on-sri-lankas-eastern-coast-1.1556335694068
 

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A different Point of View

Was ‘Easter Bombings’ in Sri Lanka Driven by Conflicting Political Interests?
By Mathew Lingard
27th April 2019



The alleged mastermind of the recent bombings in Sri Lanka is believed to have been trained in India. A top Sri Lankan military source has stated that “We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu.”

Sri Lanka experienced one of the worst incidents of terrorism in its history, when a series of bombings led to the death of over 250 people, including 45 children and at least 40 foreign nationals (death toll revised down by the Sri Lankan authorities). Most victims were Christians who were attending Easter Mass at the three churches, while others were killed at the four luxury hotels targeted by the terrorists.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also called as ISIS, apparently has claimed the responsibility for the attacks. In its statement the ISIL stated: “Those who carried out the attack that targeted the citizens of the coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday were Islamic State fighters.” Sri Lanka is not part of the coalition force fighting against the ISIL, therefore, it is too early to confirm whether the ISIL was directly involved, or it helped a local extremist organization National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) for carrying out the recent bombings; or was the terrorist attack driven by conflicting political interests?


An image grab taken from a press release issued on April 23, 2019 by the Islamic State group’s propaganda agency Amaq, allegedly shows eight men it said carried out a string of deadly suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The man in the centre is believed to be Zahran Hashim, who was identified by the Sri Lankan police as the leader of the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) group, which Colombo has blamed for the attacks. | Photo Credit: AFP


One of the suicide bombers, Zahran Hashim, who was the mastermind behind the well-coordinated attack had also travelled to South of India (Tamil Nadu) for training, where he is believed to have been indoctrinated. This indicates that ISIS may have established its base in Tamil Nadu – a region that had remained embroiled in insurgency for the last many decades and could be a lucrative recruiting ground for the ISIS.

Tamil Nadu has a disturbing history, where over 60 millions of world’s 77 million Tamils live with strong ethnic bonding with 4 million Tamils living in Sri Lanka. In the past, India has hosted militant camps in Tamil Nadu (India) from where Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were supported and equipped to carry out terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.

In 1987, India and Sri Lanka signed a deal that led to the deployment of over 100,000 Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), but after failing to bring peace and suffering more than 1200 casualties, besides several thousand injured, India finally withdrew its troops in 1990.

The atrocities carried out by the Indian forces during their stay led to increased frustration and resentment amongst the Tamils against the IPKF and the Sri Lankan government. Consequently, a suicide bomber assassinated Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 while he was on an election campaign in Tamil Nadu, and another suicide bomber managed to kill the Sri Lankan President in 1993.

In 1995, the ‘Third Eelam’ war began that was supported and armed by the external intelligence agencies. As a result, Tamil Tigers were able to cause significant damage to the Sri Lankan government and Sri Lanka’s holiest Buddhist site. Despite the peace talks, LTTE and the Sri Lankan military continued to engage in a conflict that finally led to the defeat of Tamil Tigers in 2009.

Over the past decade, Sri Lanka had seen relative peace but continues to face political uncertainty due to continued interference from its neighbours, especially India that remains uncomfortable due to growing influence of China. India has openly opposed Chinese investments in the region and has incited local population against the construction of Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka.

In view of the troubled history of Sri Lanka and the role of outside powers to assert their dominance in the region; it is quite possible that the recent bombings may not necessarily be a result of religious ideological conflict but could be a consequence of conflicting political interests. “Sri Lanka is only one of a number of South Asian countries where the China-India rivalry has roiled domestic politics.” The Sri Lankan President on more than one occasion has accused India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of attempting to assassinate him, which reflects India’s growing discomfort, and its desire to manipulate neighbouring countries.

 

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Sri Lanka president bans National Thawheed Jammath group after Easter bombings


The office of President Maithripala Sirisena said in a statement Saturday evening that National Thawheed Jammath had been banned. (Reuters/File Photo)

Updated 15 sec ago
Arab News
April 27, 2019
  • National Thawheed Jammath, or NTJ, and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem, or JMI, were banned
  • Officials confirmed alleged leader of extremist group had died in bombings
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's president is banning two groups allegedly linked to the Easter bombings under emergency powers that came into effect on Tuesday.

The office of President Maithripala Sirisena said in a statement Saturday evening that National Thawheed Jammath, or NTJ, and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem, or JMI, would be banned by presidential decree.

Presidential spokesman Dharmasri Ekanayake says the move allows the government to confiscate any property belonging to the two organizations.
On Monday, officials confirmed that the alleged leader of the Muslim extremist group, an offshoot of NTJ, had died in one of the coordinated suicide bombings at churches and hotels that killed more than 250 people.

Authorities could not act earlier to ban the two little known groups because the law required them to show firm evidence against them, officials said.

Police believe the suspected mastermind of the bombings, Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Zahran, led either the NTJ or a splinter group. Less is known about Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim, whose members are also believed to have played a role in the bombings.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers have been deployed across the island to carry out searches and boost security since the bombings in three churches and four hotels, most of which were in the capital Colombo.

Security forces have detained 100 people, including foreigners from Syria and Egypt, police said.

A gunbattle erupted on Friday evening during a raid on a safe house in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara district on the island’s east coast, killing at least
15 people including three people with suicide vests and six children, a military spokesmkan said.

The wounded included the wife and a daughter of Zahran, his family said.

“Yes, the wife and daughter were injured in the attack,” said Mohamed Hashim Mathaniya, sister of Zahran. “I was asked to come to identify them but I am not sure I can go,” she told Reuters from the town of Kattankudy in the east where Zahran was originally based.

Zahran’s driver was detained in a separate raid, according to a police statement. Bomb-making materials, dozens of gelignite sticks and thousands of ball bearings were found in a search of a separate house in the same area, along with Islamic State banners and uniforms, the military said.

Zahran appeared in a video released by Islamic State days after the bombing, the only one showing his face while seven others were covered. In the video the men stand under a black Daesh flag and declare their loyalty to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Authorities have said there could be more attacks against religious centers. Last Sunday’s bombings shattered the relative calm that the Buddhist-majority country has seen since a 26-year civil war with mostly-Hindu ethnic Tamil separatists ended a decade ago.

Sirisena and the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have faced strong criticism after it emerged that India had repeatedly given warnings of the possibility of attacks.

Both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have said intelligence was not shared with them, exposing rifts at the top of the government and raising questions about its ability to deal with the security crisis.

The national police chief had refused to accept Sirisena’s request to step down, two sources told Reuters on Saturday, a further embarrassment for the president.

The US State Department said terrorist groups were continuing to plot attacks and cautioned its citizens against traveling to Sri Lanka, as well as ordering the departure of all school-age family members of US government employees.

India and Britain have also warned their nationals to avoid traveling to Sri Lanka.

The security forces’ response has included raids on mosques and homes of people in the town of Negombo where scores died in the bombing of a church.

Police said on Friday they were trying to track down 140 people they believe have links with Daesh.

(With Reuters)

 

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No need for Indian NSG support, Lanka can tackle terror on its own - Mahinda
April 28, 2019

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Leader of the Opposition, has thanked India for the help in uncovering the plot but said he does not want any foreign forces, like the Indian National Security Guard, on Sri Lanka’s soil.

“India has been helpful. But there is no need for the NSG to come in. We don’t need foreign soldiers. Our forces are capable enough… (We) just need to give them powers and freedom,” he told News18 in an exclusive interview.

His reaction came after a government official told CNN-News18 that the elite force has been kept on standby if the island nation needs any help.
The former president, who was involved in a soft coup attempt last year, blasted the Sri Lankan government and said both President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the minister of defense and in charge of national police, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has been kept out of high-level security meetings since Sirisena tried to oust him last fall, were responsible for the series of blasts in which over 250 people were killed on Easter Sunday.

“They are busy playing politics at the cost of national security. Everyone knew about the growth of radicalism. They were worried about votes and their vote bank and did not act,” Rajapaksa told News18.

Elections to pick a new president are due between October and December and Rajapaksa has started targeting Sirisena and his Wickremesinghe for failing to preserve the hard-fought peace that he helped bring by crushing the Tamil Tiger separatists. Although Rajapaksa cannot contest for president again, his brother Gotabaya is ready to make a bid, his aide has said.

India has said that it had shared very specific intelligence inputs about the Islamic State’s plans of the bombings, but the warnings had remained unheeded.

Top Sri Lankan officials have acknowledged that some of the intelligence units were given advance notice about the attacks — starting weeks ago and up until the morning of the bombings — but that little was done to prevent them.

The country’s police chief Pujith Jayasundara and defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando have both resigned over their failure to prevent the blasts despite having prior intelligence.

In a tweet, PM Wickremesinghe said, “We take collective responsibility and apologize to our fellow citizens for our failure to protect victims of these tragic events.”

Rajapaksa also dismissed the PM’s view that no action could be taken against citizens who had left to join the Islamic State. “The existing laws are good enough to act against those with terror links,” he argued.

PM Wickremesinghe had a couple of days ago said that the government had known that Sri Lankan nationals who had joined the Islamic State had returned to the country, but they could not be arrested as joining a foreign terrorist organization is not against the law.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Easter terror attacks on three Catholic churches and three luxury hotels that claimed 253 lives but the government has blamed a local Islamist extremist group National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) for the bombings.

 

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Sri Lanka bans niqab in public places
Visitors, residents in Sri Lanka are not allowed to cover their face in public
Published: April 29, 2019 13:41Mariam M. Al Serkal, Senior Web Reporter
1.2175375-3783193181

On April 29, 2019, Sri Lanka banned all kinds of clothing that covers people’s identity, including the niqab and burqa.Image Credit: Agency

The government of Sri Lanka has banned all kinds of clothing that covers people’s identity, including the niqab and burqa.

The temporary measure, which came into effect on Monday, was implemented on week after the deadly Easter Sunday attack that killed more than 250 people, including 40 foreign nationals.

According to the new ban, which was issued by the presidential office, people will no longer be allowed to use any item that covers their face or conceals their identity.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena also took to Twitter to make the announcement.

In the Sinhala language, President Sirisena said: “It is prohibited to use all kinds of face masks which will hinder the identity of the people in the country, who [will be seen as a] threat to national and public security. The ban will come into immediate effect tomorrow (29.04.2019).”

While the majority of residents are Buddhist, around 70 percent, Muslims make up about 10 percent of the 21 million population. Christians and Hindus make up 7 and 13 percent of the population respectively, according to the New York Times.

The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), the organisation of Muslim clerics in Sri Lanka, had earlier requested Muslim women not to hinder the efforts of security forces who are responsible in maintaining national security, and urged women not wear the niqab.

In a statement on Thursday, the ACJU said: "In particular, we strongly appeal to our sisters to be mindful of the critical emergency situation now prevalent in our country and the difficulties faced by the security officers in performing their functions in situations where the identity of a person cannot be ascertained."


Sri Lanka bans niqab in public places
 

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Sri Lanka on alert for attacks by militants disguised in uniforms
There could be another wave of attacks, says the head of ministerial security division
Published: April 29, 2019 Reuters

Colombo: Sri Lankan security officials have warned that Islamist militants behind Easter Sunday's suicide bombings are planning imminent attacks and could be dressed in military uniforms.

The militants were targeting five locations for attacks on Sunday or Monday, security sources said.

"There could be another wave of attacks," the head of ministerial security division (MSD), a unit of the police, said in a letter to lawmakers and other officials, seen by Reuters on Monday.

"The relevant information further notes that persons dressed in military uniforms and using a van could be involved in the attacks." There were no attacks on Sunday, and security across Sri Lanka has been ramped up, with scores of suspected Islamists arrested since the April 21 attacks on hotels and churches that killed more than 250 people, including 40 foreign nationals.

Two cabinet ministers and two opposition lawmakers confirmed to Reuters that they were aware of the latest security alert.

"We have been informed about this by the MSD," Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

Authorities suspect members of two little known groups - National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim - of carrying out the Easter attacks, though Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said a tight-knit group of people were involved, mostly close friends and families. They mostly spoke face-to-face, possibly to evade electronic surveillance.

"They (the group) were small enough that they were not using normal communications, instead meeting each other," Wickremesinghe told Reuters.
He added the coordinated bombings, the type of explosives used and the tightly guarded plot suggested the bombers had guidance.

"ISIS (Islamic State) has claimed, we also felt there has to be some international links," he said.

President Maithripala Sirisena said on Monday he had appointed Chandana Wickramaratne, the second in command at the police, as acting police chief.

Over the weekend, two sources at the president's office told Reuters that Pujith Jayasundara, the police chief during the attacks, was refusing the president's request to step down.

It was not immediately possible to contact Jayasundara on Monday.

In India, police said they had raided the homes of three people in the southern state of Kerala, close to Sri Lanka, in connection with their links to Islamic State. They did not say if there was any connection to the attacks in Sri Lanka.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/sri-lanka-on-alert-for-attacks-by-militants-disguised-in-uniforms-1.1556523753837
 

BATMAN

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In the picture below:
One is show horse and the others are the no show horses.
Show horse and the no show horses are not of same breed, that's why no show horses are covering their faces to the point, that no clue of their breed can be visible.
Now they don't even leave their arms uncovered and even cover their eyes during photo ops.
The way they are branding daggers they seem desperate to malign Islam. Like their chances are running out.
7054
 

Eagle1

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In the picture below:
One is show horse and the others are the no show horses.
Show horse and the no show horses are not of same breed, that's why no show horses are covering their faces to the point, that no clue of their breed can be visible.
Now they don't even leave their arms uncovered and even cover their eyes during photo ops.
The way they are branding daggers they seem desperate to malign Islam. Like their chances are running out.
View attachment 7054
You remember the keralites who died via MOAB in Afghanistan?

13 suspected Indian IS fighters killed as MOAB hit Afghanistan: Reports

At least two dozen Indians, including 21 from Kerala, were believed to have joined the IS in eastern Afghanistan last year.
13 suspected Indian IS fighters killed as MOAB hit Afghanistan: Reports

There is a sinister connection with India and ISIS.
 

Eagle1

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Sri Lanka cancels Sunday masses for 2nd weekend
By Danielle Haynes
MAY 02, 2019

Sri Lankan soldiers investigate inside St. Sebastian's Church at Negombo on April 21. Photo by Perera Sameera/UPI | License Photo

May 2 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan officials on Thursday canceled Sunday mass for a second weekend after an Easter Sunday bombing that killed 257 people.

The Rev. Edmond Tilakaratne, spokesman for the archdiocese of Colombo, said Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith made the decision based on reports from security officials. The government warned of "more possible attacks by the same Islamic State-linked group that carried out the Easter suicide bombings," he said.

Eight suicide bombs detonated across the island nation April 21, targeting churches and high-end hotels. The Islamic State took responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in response to March attacks on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 people.

Catholic officials closed Sri Lanka's churches immediately after the Easter attack to avoid further violence at locations where people gather. The country's Muslim communities also stayed home from Friday prayers last week.

A Sri Lankan Cabinet minister said government officials also could be targeted by the perpetrators of the Easter attack.

On Wednesday, Sri Lankan police released the names of nine suicide bombers who carried out the attacks.

Anil Jasinghe, director general of health services, said the death toll from the Easter attack could rise further.

"The death toll slowly increased because there were some in-hospital deaths. There are some body parts as well so it is actually 257-plus," he said.

Sri Lanka cancels Sunday masses for 2nd weekend
 

BATMAN

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Indian involvement in Sri Lanka carnage

India has long been blamed for the intransigence of its intelligence agency RAW in Sri Lanka. Indian role in creating, training, financing and supporting the LTTE as a terrorist movement and India’s war crimes committed on Sri Lankan citizens by the IPKF are well documented. Prabhakaran, a RAW protégé, went on to become a Frankenstein. On 26 May 1987, Prabhakaran was cornered in Vadamarachchi and would have been caught by the Sri Lankan troops had India not intervened to threaten military intervention if Prabhakaran was not released. Thereafter, Prabhakaran was flown in an Indian aircraft to India to show India meant business.

India became more actively involved in the late 1980s, and on June 5, 1987, the Indian Air Force airdropped food parcels to Jaffna while it was under siege by Sri Lankan forces. At a time when the Sri Lankan government stated they were close to defeating the LTTE, India dropped 25 tons of food, medicine and weapons by parachute into areas held by the LTTE in a direct move of support toward the rebels.


The scale of crimes committed by Indian troops in Sri Lanka were unprecedented. Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was sent to Sri Lanka without the consent of the Indian Parliament. Prabhakaran himself said that it was the atrocities committed by the IPKF that contributed towards his decision to kill Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. This corroborates with Former LTTE military commander turned Minister V. Muralitharan or Karuna Amman who claims that the LTTE female cadre, Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, also known as Dhanu, who killed Rajiv had been raped by the IPKF. While even the Supreme Court of India in its verdict claimed that the Rajiv assassination was a retaliation for the IPKF atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Despite Indian claims of having uncovered the dastardly plot for the 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and having warned the Sri Lankan officials before the crime occurred, it has now been learnt that Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of Sri Lankan Blasts travelled to India 3 months back for training
Indian interference in Sri Lanka’s affairs have continued unabated. Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa claims that RAW manipulated the elections to ensure his polls defeat since he was seen to be developing better relations with China and Pakistan, much to the chagrin of New Delhi.

Reportedly, Indian opposition to Sri Lanka’s purchase of JF-17 Thunder Fighter aircraft from Pakistan killed the deal. Despite its own financial crunch, Pakistan was also said to be ready to extend a line of credit to Sri Lanka for the aircraft. The Indian government delivered a non-paper – diplomatic parlance for a white sheet of paper without a letterhead or signature – to Colombo at the highest levels about three weeks ago after reports that Pakistan was seriously engaging the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) on the Chinese fighter aircraft to replace the SLAF’s ageing fleet of Israeli Kfirs and MiG-27s. Ironically India offered its own obsolete LCA Tejas to Sri Lanka.

Despite Indian claims of having uncovered the dastardly plot for the 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and having warned the Sri Lankan officials before the crime occurred, it has now been learnt that Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of Sri Lankan Blasts travelled to India 3 months back for training.

It is no coincidence that a suicide bomber spent the night of 20/21 April at Taj Sumudra Hotel but didn’t blast there in the morning and went to some other area. It has been reported that the Indian High Commission and agencies knew everything 20 days before the attack and also gave final warning an hour before the deadly blasts. Indian High Commission didn’t ask for security from local authorities despite having confirmed reports of being a target. The Indian High Commissioner, euphemistically known as the viceroy of Sri Lanka due to his domineering conduct, didn’t appear in Ambassador’s brief conducted by the Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister.



These revelations raise the question, whether RAW is more powerful and prevalent in Sri Lanka than the Sri Lankan agencies? Tamil Nado, India has been the breeding ground for the modern suicide bombing trend. Terrorists’ around the world have learnt the art and tactics of making suicide bombs and successful execution from Tamil Nado.

India has a history of interfering in internal matters of all the neighbouring countries in order to raise its stature as regional policeman and to prove the notion of being the net regional Security provider. It seems that despite being engaged in general elections in India, its intelligence agency RAW is continuing on its agenda of destabilizing its neighbours to subjugate them and keep them under its thumb. The 16 February 2019 False Flag operations at Pulwama and the subsequent Indian actions of surgical strikes at Balakot and the IAF debacle at the Line of Control on 26/27 February have taught no lessons to India. During the initial stages of the eater Sunday carnage, India started a whispering campaign against Pakistan but now it has been learnt that India was involved in the Sri Lankan bombings.

The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host
 

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Sri Lanka dismantles big part of bombers’ network, freezes assets

Reuters
May 07, 2019

  • Investigators are still tracking down 10 more key players associated with plotting the bombings
  • The bombings killed more than 250 people, including 42 foreigners
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities say they have dismantled a major part of the network linked to the Easter Sunday bombings, confiscating bomb-making material and freezing assets worth about $40 million linked to the plotters.

In an audio statement issued by the defense ministry on Monday, acting police chief Chandana Wickramaratne said almost all suspects and plotters involved in the April 21 attacks had either been arrested or were dead.

“There were also two people among that group of plotters who are experts in bombs and those two are dead now,” Wickramarate said. “They had stored part of the explosives for future attacks and we have confiscated all of this.”

Investigators are still tracking down 10 more key players associated with plotting the bombings, which killed more than 250 people, including 42 foreigners, a military source told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The investigations show there were another 8 to 10 people who attended meetings with the other plotters,” the source said.

Assets worth about $40 million belonging to the bombers and plotters linked to the April 21 attacks have been frozen, police spokesman Ruwan Gunesekera said.

Sri Lankan authorities have said the bombings were believed to have been carried out by two little-known domestic Islamist groups, the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI). Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Investigators from eight countries, including the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, are helping Sri Lanka with the investigation.

In focus are whether the plotters had any foreign help, the sources of funding and if the bombers had any credible link to Islamic State.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told Reuters over the weekend that all indications pointed to Islamic State involvement.

 

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Police chief: All Sri Lanka bomb plotters killed or arrested
By Darryl Coote
MAY 7, 2019

Acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickramaratne said security measures have been beefed up at schools in order for people to feel comfortable returning to day-to-day life. Photo by Perera Sameera/UPI | License Photo


May 7 (UPI) -- Every suspect connected to the Sri Lankan Easter Sunday suicide bombings has either been arrested or killed, authorities said.

"All those terrorists directly involved in the bombings are either dead or under arrest," Sri Lanka's acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickramaratne said in a statement late Monday, Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror reported.

The announcement comes two weeks after coordinated bomb attacks ripped through three hotels and three churches throughout the country, killing 257 people and injuring many.

The National Thowheeth Jama'ath terrorist organization has been blamed for the attacks and the Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Wickramaratne said among the dead were two bomb experts linked to the attacks and police also uncovered explosives stashed to be used in future attacks. He also said life will slowly return to normal, adding that security measures were being beefed up at schools, the Sunday Times reported.

"This is not because there is a direct threat on schools," he said. "But everyone must understand the manner in which security measures must be undertaken."

He also urged the public to disregard what they read on social media and rely directly on the security forces for information.

Wickramaratne was appointed acting inspector general last week by President Maithripala Sirisena, who had demanded the resignation of Pujith Jayasundara, the former inspector general, for failing to uphold his duties by not thwarting the Easter Sunday bombings.

Wickramaratne's Monday announcement follows the government having declared a state of emergency April 22 that allowed police and military forces to detain and question potential suspects without a court order.

Meanwhile, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake said the military has also increased national security measures under the emergency declaration while urging the public to return to their regular, daily activities, the Colombo Gazette reported.

 

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Exclusive: Sri Lankan software engineer, under Indian surveillance, key in Easter attack
May 14, 2019
by Shihar Aneez, Shri Navaratnam, Sanjeev Miglani

COLOMBO/AHMEDABAD,India (Reuters) - A Sri Lankan software engineer suspected by authorities in Sri Lanka of having provided technical and logistical support to the Easter Sunday suicide bombers was monitored by Indian intelligence agencies three years ago for links with Islamic State suspects, investigators said.

Four sources in Sri Lankan investigating agencies said they believed Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, was the link between two groups that carried out the attacks on churches and hotels that killed more than 250 people and wounded hundreds more.

Aadhil has been arrested and is in police custody, the sources said. His arrest has not been made public, but when asked by Reuters, Ruwan
Gunasekera, the main spokesman for the Sri Lankan police, confirmed Aadhil was taken into custody on April 25, four days after the attacks.
The spokesman declined to give more details.

A police official at India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and another police official in the western state of Gujarat said they were providing assistance to Sri Lankan authorities.

Aadhil, who describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a senior engineer/programmer/web designer with a masters degree in computer science and a bachelors in political science from U.K. universities, could not be reached for comment.

He does not yet have a lawyer and under Sri Lanka’s tough new emergency laws imposed after the attacks, he can be held indefinitely.

His father, M. Ameez, who lives in Aluthgama, a town south of Colombo, denied that Aadhil was involved with the plotters and said such “allegations are lies”.

The Indian investigators said they had been monitoring Aadhil since 2016 and named him in two chargesheets filed in Indian courts against suspected Islamic State operatives as being one of their contacts.

According to one of the chargesheets, reviewed by Reuters, he showed up in Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram chats with two of the suspects who are on trial for plotting an attack on a synagogue in the western city of Ahmedabad.

The two suspects Ubed Ahmad Mirza, a lawyer, and Stimberwala Mohamed Kasim, a hospital technician, were accused of planning “lone-wolf” attacks, according to the chargesheet.

Lawyers for both men rejected the allegations and said they were innocent. Both lawyers declined to comment on the possible role of Aadhil.

Aadhil has also been named in another chargesheet filed in court by the NIA for providing propaganda and online material to three Indians arrested in early 2016 for promoting Islamic State.

The three men, Sheikh Azhar ul-Islam, Adnan Hassan and Mohammed Rafiq Sadique Shaikh are on trial in a special Delhi court facing charges of criminal conspiracy to propagate the ideology of Islamic State, recruit, raise funds and facilitate the travel of people to Syria, according to the chargesheet.

Sheikh Mohammad Munawar, a cousin of ul-Islam, said the charges were fabricated and that he had no criminal record ever.
Families of the other two accused could not be reached. Their lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

Reuters was unable to determine when the Indians informed Sri Lankan authorities of the surveillance. The two officials declined to say whether they continued to keep Aadhil under surveillance after they completed investigation of the cases in India.

Indian intelligence services warned Sri Lankan authorities of a possible attack at least three times in April alone, officials have said.

LINK BETWEEN GROUPS
Sri Lankan authorities have said two local Islamist groups - the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) led by radical preacher Zahran Hashim and the
Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) - were involved in the synchronized blasts in Colombo, the island nation’s capital, and two other towns. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Two sources in Sri Lanka’s police Criminal Investigation Department and two military officials said Aadhil was the link between the two groups.

The groups used the dark web and WhatsApp to communicate, they said.

However, investigators don’t know yet whether Aadhil was simply a facilitator for the bombers, or if he was also one of the ring leaders involved in planning and executing the attacks.

Last week, police raided IT firm Virtusa, where Aadhil had interned in 2013, according to his profile. One current employee has been detained for questioning in connection with the attacks, police say, but no other details have been provided.

GRAPHIC: A network of extremism expands - tmsnrt.rs/2VZBXX4

ONLINE CHATS
India, with one of the world’s largest populations of Muslims, has claimed success in foiling several Islamic State cells, mostly in southern and western India.

Court documents reviewed by Reuters show that the online conversations between the Sri Lankan and the two Indians in western India, began in the summer of 2016 and lasted until the arrest of the two Indians in late 2017. The documents describe how Aadhil Ax, as he called himself online, asked the Indians if they had heard about the atrocities being committed against Muslims in Sri Lanka by the majority Buddhist community.

He talked about his own experiences: that he had been in jail, that his house had been torched and that he limped because of beatings, the documents seen by Reuters show. Investigators and neighbors in Sri Lanka say none of these were true.

The Sri Lankan investigators interviewed by Reuters say Aadhil made claims he was a journalist and a PhD candidate in some of his online postings, which also were false.

They said they believed Aadhil, operating largely from his home, was a key part of the Easter bombings plot and helped in communications and training.

“He was the main technology person for them,” said one of the CID sources involved in the investigation. The source said Aadhil was helped in this by Abdul Latheef Mohamed Jameel, one of the eight suicide bombers who detonated his explosives at a guesthouse after failing to do so at Colombo’s luxury Taj Samudra hotel.

About a week before the bombings, Aadhil met Jameel, Zahran the extremist preacher, and Inshaf Ibrahim and Ilham Ibrahim, the two brothers from a family engaged in the spice trade in Colombo, the other sources said. The latter three men blew themselves up in five-star Colombo hotels.

The CID source said that Aadhil, Zahran and the Ibrahim brothers had leased land in Wanathawilluwa town in the north and set up a training camp. Police raided the place in January this year and discovered a large amount of explosives, but did not know at the time who had leased it.

When police raided Aadhil’s home four days after the bombings, all his computer files were found to have been deleted.

“He seems to have played an important role in setting up communications for the attackers, helping organize meetings and training camps,” said one of the military sources.

Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in COLOMBO and Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

 

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Easter bombers on Sri Lanka payroll: Muslim leader
12 June 2019
View attachment 7914
Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena (C) waits next to Navy officers for a group photo during a ceremony commissioning P 626 ship, U.S gifted to the Sri Lankan coastguard at the main port in Colombo. — AFP file photo


COLOMBO — The extremists behind Sri Lanka's deadly Easter bombings received funding from state intelligence services, a top Muslim leader told a parliamentary investigation.

The comments by Azath Salley, who quit last week as governor of Western Province, added to evidence of massive security failings before the April 21 attacks that killed 258 people.

The bombings were led by Zahran Hashim, a radical who broke from the Sri Lanka Thowheeth Jama'ath (SLTJ) to form an extremist group, the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ).

Salley told the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that he repeatedly told President Maithripala Sirisena to take action against the group.

"The defense ministry paid the Thowheeth Jama'ath. The police worked closely with the Thowheeth Jama'ath," Salley said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Salley said the former government of Mahinda Rajapakse in office until 2015 funded Thowheeth Jama'ath through military intelligence, a practice continued by the new administration.

Salley said that the funding was to spy on other groups.

Salley also said that a week before the attacks, he met with top defense officials to warn them about the activities of radicals and impending dangers.

"If the police had taken action on the information I provided at the time, we would have been able to avoid this disaster," he said.

The PSC has already heard from several top defense and police officials that the authorities failed to implement an effective security plan even after receiving precise warnings of an impending attack.

Sirisena sacked his national intelligence chief Sisira Mendis after he told the PSC that the attacks could have been averted.

Mendis also said the president had failed to hold regular security meetings to assess the threat.

His defense secretary and police chief have suggested that the president, who is also defense minister, did not follow proper protocols in dealing with intelligence warnings about the bombings.

Sirisena has refused to cooperate with the PSC and told his senior officers not to testify.

However, parliament warned civil servants that they risked up to 10 years in jail if they ignored summons.

Broadcasts of proceedings have however been halted.

Sirisena has repeatedly denied he was aware of an impending threat.

He suspended police chief Pujith Jayasundara and dismissed his top defense official Hemasiri Fernando after the bombings. — AFP
 

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