The chief of Sri Lanka’s Army has said some of the suicide bombers involved in the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, which left over 250 dead, visited Kashmir and Kerala for “some sorts of training” or to “make some more links” with other foreign outfits.
“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,” Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said in an interview to BBC.
This is the first time that a top Sri Lankan security official has confirmed that the bombers had visited India, which had shared intelligence inputs with Colombo ahead of the attack. Read in Malayalam
When asked about what militants had been 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”.
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.
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”.
A security official had earlier told The Indian Express that intelligence agencies are tracking over a dozen men from Tamil Nadu and Kerala whose phone numbers were found in the Call Detail Records of Zaharan Hashim, the suspected mastermind behind the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka.
A total of 253 people were killed and over 500 wounded after nine suicide bombers carried out a series of blasts that ripped through three churches and as many luxury hotels on April 21. Although the Islamic State terror group claimed the attacks, the government blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ). In the aftermath of the attacks, Sri Lanka banned the NTJ and arrested over 100 people in connection with the blasts.