Sri Lankan soldiers engage in gunbattle with Easter bombing suspects, 7 arrested

New Delhi: In a joint operation, the Sri Lankan Army and Police raided a hideout in Sammanthurai on Friday and recovered a large haul of explosives. A gunbattle took place between the security forces and some heavily-armed men, believed to have links with the deadly Easter terror attacks. The gunmen were holed up inside a house at the site of the encounter.

At least seven people were arrested by the security forces in the operation. 

An exchange of gunfire took place between the security forces and the armed men during the operation, that took place in Sainda-Marudu area in Kalmunai. The report said that during the gunbattle, at least three explosions, believed to have been carried out by the suicide bombers, were heard at the encounter site. 

The police recovered a huge cache of explosives and arms and ammunition in the attack including uniform and a banner with the logo of Islamic State, 50 gelignite sticks and 1,00,000 metal balls. The police also recovered a drone camera from the possession of suspected terrorists. 

Sammanthurai is 325 kilometres from Colombo. 

At least nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday, killing 253 people and injured more than 500 others. The bombs tore through three five-star hotels in Colombo: the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. At least 38 foreigners, including 10 Indian nationals, died in the attacks.

The Islamic State claimed the responsibility of the attack, however, the Lankan government blamed the local Islamist extremist group called National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) behind the attacks. 

The police has so far arrested over 70 people in connection with the case.