• Thursday, Nov 21, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:16 am

Sri Lanka troops launch major hunt for Islamists linked to suicide attacks

  • Published at 08:37 pm May 25th, 2019
SRILANKA-ATTACKS-RELIGION
Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard as Sri Lankan Muslims gather after Friday noon prayers to remember the victims and to protest against the terrorist group who was responsible for Easter Sunday suicide attacks that killed 258 people in Sri Lanka, at Masjid Yusufiyah mosque in Negombo on May 24, 2019 AFP

Security forces have arrested scores of suspects in connection with the bombings and over what appeared to be organized violence against the island's Muslim minority

Sri Lanka's military launched a major hunt Saturday for remnants of an Islamist group which carried out the Easter suicide bombings that killed 258 people, officials said.

Several Colombo suburbs were targeted by troops using emergency powers on arrests and detentions adopted after the April 21 attacks.

"Special cordon-and-search operations are under way in three areas just outside Colombo," a military official told reporters.

Similar operations were also carried out in the country's north-west, where anti-Muslim riots this month left one man dead and hundreds of Muslim-owned shops, homes and mosques destroyed.

Security forces have arrested scores of suspects in connection with the bombings and over what appeared to be organized violence against the island's Muslim minority.

While authorities say the immediate jihadist threat has been blunted, President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday extended for one month the 30-day state of emergency imposed after the suicide bombings.

Sirisena said the move was to maintain "public security," with the country still on edge after the attacks on three hotels and three churches that were blamed on a local jihadi group, the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ).

The Islamic State group has also claimed a role in the attacks.

Christians make up 7.6% and Muslims 10% of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka.