News Brief

Post Easter Bombings, India Alerted Sri Lanka Of More Strikes; Here’s How Plan To Attack Buddhist Temples Was Foiled

Pro-IS Telegram channels released pictures of three of the alleged suicide bombers in Easter attacks with the IS flag as the backdrop (via Facebook)

The National Tawheed Jamaat (NTJ), an Islamist organisation responsible for the Easter Bomb attacks in Sri Lanka was traced to India. Two months later, the investigation has revealed that the group had planned second and third strikes on Buddhist places of worship in the island nation.

Two days after the Easter attacks, Indian security agencies had alerted Sri Lanka of possibility of another attack by NTJ.

On 19 April, two days before the Easter bomb attacks, NTJ’s founder Zahran, his brothers Rilwan and Zaini along with several female terrorists had purchased white clothes from a shop in Giriulla for Rs 29,000.

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According to the police, the clothes were for the second and third attacks targeting Buddhist places of worship, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic being one of the main targets. A total of 11 fidayeens or suicide bombers had been prepared for the next spate of attacks.

After preparing the bombs the Easter attacks, the terrorists transported remaining explosives from Negombo and Sammanthurai warehouses. Rilwan was appointed as the in-charge of the second phase of attacks. A lorry-driver was hired by the group to transport the materials.

“When I asked why they were heavy, they said the cans were full of sulphuric acid which they use in making gold jewellery. They acted in no suspicious manner, though the one who came with me was always on the phone, constantly updating someone on our whereabouts in a different language,” the driver was quoted as saying by The Daily Mail.

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The driver said that it was after the Easter attacks that he grew suspicious of the consignment he took on 9 April, and whether it had any link to the terrorists. After discussing with his family, he decided to inform the police on 25 April.

On 26 April, the security forces seized a cache of explosives at Sammanthurai. Minutes before the security forces arrived to raid the residence, suicide bombings killed ten civilians including six children.

“I was told by the police that I had saved lives of thousands of Sri Lankans. But I have not been given anything to admire what I did. I am afraid to even go out now. I am afraid about the safety of my family. It will be a great help if the government can support me financially until I feel safe enough to live like before,” the unnamed driver said.

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