Sri Lanka launches hunt for Islamists linked to attacks

Sri Lanka's military launched a major hunt Saturday for remnants of an Islamist group that carried out the Easter suicide bombings (Photo AFP)

Sri Lanka's military launched a major hunt on Saturday for remnants of an Islamist group that 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 underway 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 organised 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 percent and Muslims 10 percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka.

 

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