SAINTHAMARUTHU, Sri Lanka – At least 15 people were killed, including six children, in bomb blasts and gunfire as Sri Lankan security forces raided a rented home used by a group with suspected links to the deadly Easter bombings.
The dramatic confrontation late Friday came amid a nationwide security crackdown and intensive searches for suspects in numerous locations across Sri Lanka.
On Saturday morning, the crime scene staff in fluorescent vests roamed the lane collecting ball bearings, torn pieces of clothing and fragments of the flesh in Sainthamaruthu on the island's east coast
The body of the man shot by security forces, identified by the police only as "Niyaz," still lay face down on the cobbled pavement. including six men and three women ̵
One of the men was shot by security forces after he came into the lane and began firing a rifle, said Lucian Sooriyabandara, and a local police official.
Police said the group was linked to the suicide bombers who carried out attacks on churches and luxury hotels in three cities on Easter Sunday, killing more than 250.
Earlier that day, police raided and about three miles from the rented home.
Local residents in Sainthamaruthu said the group arrived at the rented house five days ago. Residents grew suspicious when they saw the group unloading boxes, and they learned they were from Kattankudy, and the city's hourly drive away where the mastermind of the attacks was based
Mohammad Rizwan, 31, and a local shopkeeper, said he alerted a nearby traffic cop to the group's early Friday evening. When the officer approached the lane, Rizwan said, the first of several explosions rang out of the house.
President Maithripala Sirisena said Friday that strict new measures were taken to identify and track people, similar to the controversial methods used during the civil war between the separatist ethnic Tamils and the government that ended in 2009.
He said that about 70 individuals suspected of ties to the Islamic State had been arrested, and that another 70 suspects were still at large
"We had to declare an emergency situation to suppress terrorists and ensure a peaceful environment in the country, "the president said. "Every country in the country will be checked" and lists of all residents made to "ensure that no unknown person can live anywhere," he vowed.
The identity of those killed in the house, a white bungalow with a black metal gate and surrounded by a high wall, were not immediately known 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 the residence bore similarities to a
After two sons of a wealthy spice merchant, MY Ibrahim, were identified as being among the suicide bombers, police raided the family home. A woman inside, 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.