Easter bombers visited J&K & Kerala: Lanka Army chief
Colombo/ Srinagar: 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 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, Bengaluru, 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 (IS) 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.
Asked why the threats were not taken more seriously after receiving information from India, Senanayake said: "We had some information and intelligence-sharing, situations and military intelligence on a different direction and the others were different and there was a gap that everybody could see today".
Reacting to the Lanka Army's chief claim, Indian Central security agencies' officials said in Srinagar on Saturday that there is no record to suggest that any of the suicide bombers had visited Kashmir. One of the officials said immigration records were re-visited after the terrorist attacks and none of the bombers had visited Kashmir.
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.