COLOMBO Sri Lanka Army’s chief has said that some of the suicide bombers who carried out the country’s worst terror attack on Easter Sunday visited Kashmir, Bangalore and Kerala for “some sorts of training” or to “make some more links” with other foreign outfits.
It is the first time that a top Sri Lankan security official has confirmed the militants’ visit to India which had shared intelligence inputs with Colombo ahead of the attack.
Nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21, killing 253 people and injuring over 500 others.
In an interview to BBC, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army, divulged some details on the movements of the suspects in the region and also international links.
“They (the suspects) have gone to India, they’ve gone to Kashmir, Bangalore, they’ve travelled to Kerala state. Those are the information available with us,” he said.
Asked what activities they were doing in Kashmir and Kerala, the Army chief said: “Not exactly, but definitely in some sorts of training or to make some more links towards the other organisations outside the country”.
The Islamic State terror group claimed the attacks, but the government blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ).
Sri Lanka banned the NTJ and arrested over 100 people in connection with the blasts.
About the possibility of an involvement of a foreign group, the Commander said that by looking at the pattern of operation and the places that the suspects travelled, there has to be some outside involvement of some leadership or instructions.
Official Records Belie Lankan Army Claim
There is no record to suggest that any of the suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka had visited Kashmir as claimed by the Army chief of the island nation, officials of central security agencies said here Saturday.
One of the officials said immigration records were re-visited after the terrorist attacks and none of the bombers had visited Kashmir.
About a dozen Sri Lankan nationals had come to Kashmir Valley this year and their credentials have been re-checked after the April 21 bombings in three churches and three luxury hotels killed 253 people and injured over 500 others, he said.
However, there could be a possibility of the bombers visiting the state using pseudonym, the official said, adding if Sri Lanka hands over some evidence, it can be verified from the ground.