As many as 15 bodies, including those of six children and three women have been found at a house in Sainthamaruthu, located in Sri Lanka’s eastern Ampara district, Saturday morning.
“An explosion occurred late night,” military spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu told The Hindu. The “explosion,” he said followed rounds of gunfire exchanged between security forces and Easter attacks suspects, who were reportedly near the house. “We believe they set off the explosives following the gunfire,” he said. The army was unable to confirm if the 15 persons found dead included suspects or their family members.
In the preceding gunfire which, the military spokesperson said, began “around 7 p.m.”, two suspects were killed. “One civilian died, and five others were injured and taken to hospital,” he said. No one from the security force was killed.
According to a press release from the army, based on an intelligence tip-off given by the Police, troops were rounding up “a safe house” of suspected terrorists Friday evening, when they triggered three explosions and began firing towards the troops. “Troops retaliated and raided the safe house where a large cache of explosives had been stored,” it said.
Security forces recovered explosives, detonators, gelignite sticks, acid bottles, detonating cords, ISIS flags and backdrops, suicide kits, military uniforms, from another safe house in Samanthurai area earlier in the evening, the release said.
The development comes in the wake of Sri Lanka’s heightened search for suspects linked to the Easter day serial blasts that claimed over 250 lives last Sunday.