Sri Lanka arrests 100 people in raids targeting Islamists

Sri Lanka
File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Sri Lankan police arrested about 100 suspects during four days of raids in search of remnants of an Islamist group accused of being behind the Easter attacks that killed 258 people, officials said Sunday.

About 3,000 troops have been deployed in the capital and its environs and in other major towns and have conducted closures and searches that began on Thursday, a military official said.

In the first three days, security forces arrested 87 suspects and handed them over to the police for interrogation, the official said.

“The number of people detained may be up to 100 so far,” a security official said, adding that “almost all of them were detained for possessing drugs and in some cases illegal weapons.”

A number of people were also arrested and video clips and other propaganda materials were seized by the Sri Lankan National Unification Group, which was responsible for the 21 April bombings.

The Islamic state organization also said it played a role in the attacks.

The soldiers also carried out Sunday searches in other parts of the capital.

Similar operations were carried out in the northwestern province, north of Colombo, where anti-Muslim riots this month killed hundreds of shops and Muslim-owned houses as well as mosques.

Security forces arrested dozens of suspects in the April 21 attacks on three hotels and three churches and arrested people suspected of systematic violence against the island’s Muslim minority.

While authorities say the threat of jihadist threat has been contained, President Maitripala Sericina on Wednesday extended the state of emergency imposed after the suicide bombings for another 30 days.

Serresina said the move was aimed at maintaining “public security” because of the continuing tension in the country after Easter attacks.

Christians make up 7.6 percent and Muslims make up 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist population.

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