SAINTHAMARUTHU, Sri Lanka – At least 15 people were killed in bombings and shots, including six children, when Sri Lankan security forces stole a rented house used by a group allegedly linked to the deadly Easter bombing.
The dramatic confrontation on late Friday came through nationwide security measures and intense search for suspects in numerous locations in Sri Lanka. Police warned of possible further attacks and used new emergency services to stop and interrogate individuals and raid homes and other places. On Saturday morning, crime scene members roamed the streets in fluorescent vests, collecting ball bearings, torn garments and fragments in Sainthamaruthu on the east coast of the island.
The body of the man shot dead by security forces identified by the police only as "Niyaz" was still face down on the paved sidewalk.
Most of the dead ̵
One of the men was shot dead by security forces after he came into the building. They started firing a rifle in the alley, said local police officer Lucian Sooriyabandara.
The police said the group was linked to the suicide bombers who attacked churches and luxury hotels in three cities on Easter Sunday, killing more than 250 people.
The same day, the police stormed a house about three miles from the rented house. There they found, as the police said, an explosives camp, a black flag in the Islamic state, and clothing worn by the assailants in a picture distributed by the Islamic state claiming responsibility for the bombings.
Residents in Sainthamaruthu said the group arrived in the rented house five days ago. Residents became suspicious when they saw the group unloading crates, and they learned they were from Kattankudy, an hour's drive away, where Zahran Hashim, the devotee of the attacks, was stationed.
The shopkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, 31, a local shopkeeper told a nearby traffic cop on Friday night about the group's presence. As the officer approached the lane, Rizwan said, the first of several explosions sounded from the house. When police and soldiers arrived, there was a shootout.
President Maithripala Sirisena said Friday that strong new measures were being taken to investigate and prosecute people, much as the controversial methods of civil war between separatist ethnic Tamils and the terminated government
He said that about 70 people died were suspected of having links with the Islamic State, arrested and a further 70 suspects were still at large.
"We had to declare an emergency situation to suppress terrorists and ensure a terrorist attack peaceful environment in the country," said the president. "Every household in the country is under review" and lists of all residents should "ensure that no stranger can live anywhere," he vowed.
The identities of those killed in the house, a white bungalow with a black metal gate and surrounded by a high wall, were not immediately recognized or released, and there was no explanation for the presence of six children who are now dead.
But the appearance of a family group hiding in residence bore resemblance to a deadly encounter between police and inmates of a luxury home in the suburbs of Colombo last Sunday.
After identifying two sons of a wealthy spice merchant, MY Ibrahim, among the suicide bombers, the police searched the family home. A woman later identified as the wife of one of the sons detonated a bomb as the police approached, killing herself, her unborn child, three children, and three policemen.