Sri Lanka detains 18 in hunt for those behind bombings

Telegram från AFP / Omni
24 april 2019, 05.49

Sri Lankan security forces arrested 18 suspects linked to the country's deadly Islamist Easter bombings in overnight raids, police said Wednesday.

Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the suspects were held in a search operation carried out by police and security forces using emergency powers introduced since Sunday's attacks which left more than 359 dead.

"Based on information, we raided three locations and arrested 17 suspects," Gunasekera said. "Another suspect was arrested at a fourth location."

Police say they have so far taken 58 people into detention since Sunday.

Gunasekera said the raids were part of security operations to track down any individuals linked to suicide bombing strike against three churches and three hotels which the Islamic State group has claimed.

The Sri Lankan government has blamed a local Islamist group, the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), for the attacks which left 359 dead and 500 injured.

The security swoop came after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that more Islamist radicals could be on the run and he could not rule out the possibility of further bombings.

"There are a few more people on the run," Wickremesinghe said. "So we've got to apprehend them."

In addition to arming security forces with powers to detain suspects for up to three months, the authorities have also imposed a night-time curfew since Sunday's deadly attacks.