Sri Lankan army searches for suspects in Easter attacks

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UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The Sri Lankan army on Saturday launched raids to try to find members of a local Islamist group that carried out the Easter attacks that killed 258 people and wounded 500, officials said.

“There are currently cordon and search operations, especially in three areas outside Colombo,” a military official told reporters.

Similar operations have also been carried out in the northwest, where riots against Muslims have killed one person and destroyed hundreds of shops, Muslim-owned homes and mosques.

Security forces have arrested a large number of persons suspected of links to attacks and acts of violence against Muslims.

Although the authorities consider the threat to have fallen, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday extended the state of emergency imposed since the suicide bombings on April 21 to maintain “public security.”

Suicide bombers from a banned local Islamic movement, the National Tawhid Group, carried out Easter Day attacks targeting luxury hotels and churches during the Eid Mass on the island in South Asia.

The organization of the Islamic state, which announced the “National Tawheed Group” in a videotape, has adopted the attacks.

Ten percent of Sri Lanka’s predominantly Buddhist population is Muslim, with only 7.6 percent of Christians.

Sri Lanka’s Independent Human Rights Commission has accused police of failing to prevent riots against Muslims after the bombings.

“It appears that no preventive measures have been taken, although reprisals against Muslims were likely to occur after the terrorist attacks on 21 April,” the committee said in a letter to acting police chief Chandana Vikramaratny.

The committee blamed the police for the release of suspects who later took part in attacks against Muslims, citing political interference to release some of the suspects.

“Once released (suspects) attacked the Muslim-owned gang in Koliabitia during a curfew and attacked all the shops to Rambawwa,” the committee said.

The Commission acknowledged that the police were unable to control the gangs without any support, but did not request reinforcements from the security forces.

The Committee called for “zero tolerance of any political or external interference” and “taking strict judicial action against all those who obstruct the performance of police duties”.


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