Security net closes in on suspects | Sunday Observer

Security net closes in on suspects

A 34-year-old resident of Wattala died yesterday when the police opened fire at him as he attempted to flee in his car during a police security checkup near the expressway entry at Hunupitiya, Wattala.

The incidents are reported amid high security checks performed by the police and armed forces to ensure that terrorists are irradiated from the country.

On Friday (10) Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake has allowed the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to obtain blood samples from National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim’s daughter to conduct a DNA test to ascertain his identity.

The death toll of Easter Sunday coordinated attacks, the deadliest since the end of the three decade war, that rocked the island reached 258, after a US official who was wounded during the suicide attacks in Shangri-La hotel succumbed to injuries this week. This increased the deaths of foreign nationals to 44.

The bombings, on April 21, targeted a church and three luxury hotels in Colombo, and churches in Negombo and Batticaloa.

At 8.45am that morning bombs exploded in St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine, Shangri-La Hotel and The Kinsburry in Colombo. Shortly after, a bomb in Cinnamon Grand Hotel went off at 8.50am.

Recalling the bomb blasts in St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo 13 that claimed her mother’s life, 26-year-old Sharon Silviya, mother of one and pregnant with her second, said “I went to church with my family around 8.10 a.m. I was with them till my son wanted to see the fish in the tank, right in front of the church.”

Her mother, Mary Otricia Johnson, (47) had asked her to take the child to the fish tank. And that was the last time they spoke.

Under 10 minutes later she heard an ear splitting sound and saw fire.

“There were people thrown into pieces and blood everywhere,” Silviya said. “I closed my son’s eyes, gave him to a relative and ran back into the church to look for my family.”

She found her mother lying unconscious on the church floor.

Another suicide bomber set off his bomb in Zion Church in Batticaloa at 9.05am. A terrorist detonated a bomb in the Tropical Inn Hotel in Dehiwala at 1.45pm. Investigations found that his original target was the Taj Samudra but the detonation failed while he was at the hotel.

Another explosion took place at 2.15 in a luxury house in Dematagoda, owned by a spice tycoon whose sons were later identified as suicide bombers, during a security raid.

On April 26 a raid by the security forces led to bombings that killed 15 in a safe-house in Kalmunai. Six children and three women are among the dead. The incident also wounded the wife and child of Mohamed Zahran Hashim.

DNA tests have affirmed the identities of St. Sebastian’s Church attackers- Alawdeen Ahmad Muwath and Achchi Mohammadu Hasthun. Issuing a statement the police announced a three-day grace period yesterday from May 11, 2019 to May 14, 2019 to hand over explosives and explosive materials without permits to the nearest police station.

In addition, the Department of Government Information said yesterday that neither they nor the Government has imposed restrictions on media. In reply to a claim that the Government is attempting to filter information given to the media, the department said it has put in place a “formal mechanism to disseminate the information

with the coordination of all media institutions, and the media spokespersons of the Tri Forces and the Police”.

The department requested media to publicize information that is verified by media spokespersons of police and the Tri Forces, as misinformation could lead to “public tension and disturbances”.

In addition this week’s key developments were as follows:

Friday, May 10: Explosives that were buried near a property in Sainthamaruthu recovered by security personnel. Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said the explosives belonged to the same group that killed 15 in the same area last month.

SP Gunasekara said an investigation is underway against the police officials who released on bail nine suspects arrested at the copper factory in Wellampitiya owned by the Ibrahim family. He vowed to take necessary action as soon as the interim report from the Special Investigations Unit was obtained.

Thursday, May 9: A man claimed to be connected to Easter Sunday attacks was arrested in Slave Island. He had had cash worth more than Rs.8 million and gold weighing over 776 grams in his possession during the arrest.

In a separate raid, the Kattankudy Police arrested a man believed to be a close ally of suicide bomber Mohamed Zahran Hashim. Investigations have revealed that the suspect has had financial dealings with Zahran, and he also took part in training programs carried out by the terrorist group in the Hambantota area.

Thursday, May 09: Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said during a press conference that Catholic schools will reopen on Tuesday (14) if the security is satisfactory. If not the schools will recommence after Vesak Poya.

Monday, May 06: State-run schools (other than Catholic schools) resumed classes amid police and security forces’ security. Parents were also deployed to assist the security checks. Temporary social media blockage lifted.

Sunday, May 05: Police curfew imposed in Negombo when a clash ignited between two groups following an argument between two individuals. The clash led to mobs attacking businesses and property owned by the Muslim community in the area.

A temporary social media blockage was imposed.