The sister of the suspected ringleader of Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings has claimed that up to 18 members of her family are missing and feared dead since the massive suicide attacks and subsequent police raids, according to a media report.
Mohamed Hashim Mathaniya is the sister of Mohamed Zahran Hashim, the man Sri Lankan authorities believe was one of the leaders of the attacks. He appeared in a video released by an ISIS-linked news agency before blowing himself up on Easter Sunday.
Speaking to CNN, Mathaniya said she identified her brother from photographs of his body parts at the police station earlier in the week.
“Five men – three brothers, my father and my sister’s husband – went missing after the attacks,” she said.
On Friday night, 10 civilians, including six children, were killed along with six suspected terrorists after a shootout between police and alleged militants in the town of Sainthamaruthu on Sri Lanka’s Eastern province.
One of the militants killed in that raid has been identified as Mohamed Niyas, a prominent member of the local extremist group National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) and Mathaniya’s brother-in-law.
“It did not hit me until I saw the bodies of the men and women. When they said six children, I thought whether they could be the people related to me. There were five women in the house. The wives of my three brothers, my younger sister, and my mother. There were altogether seven children,” Mathaniya said.
Mathaniya also identified her father and two brothers in a video purportedly taken minutes before Friday’s shootout. The video, widely circulated on Sri Lankan social media, shows three men saying in Tamil that they will “teach a lesson” to those who “are destroying Muslims who have come to this part of the country.”
Mathiniya said the three men in the video were her father, Mohammed Hashim, and her brothers, Mohamed Hashim Rilwan and Mohamed Hashim Zainy.