Ringleader of Sri Lanka Easter bombings was trained in India: report

08:51 PM | 27 Apr, 2019
Ringleader of Sri Lanka Easter bombings was trained in India: report
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COLOMBO - The alleged ringleader of Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, that leftover 250 people dead, spent some time in India with sources revealing that he might have been trained in the Southern part of the country.

As Sri Lanka has widened investigations into the Easter bombings that sent shock waves across the globe, the name of India's Tamil Nadu has popped up as a place where Zahran Hashim is believed to have gained training.

“We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu,” a senior Sri Lankan military source said on condition of anonymity.

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According to Indian daily The Hindu, Indian officials keep mum over whether Hashim travelled to India but point to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin.

Another Indian official, on condition of anonymity, expressed on Saturday that over 100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page were being investigated.

Indian authorities have also interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim.

The official continued that the men were IS sympathisers and arrested in September 2018 in Coimbatore, on suspicion that they were plotting the assassination of certain political and religious leaders in India.

Colombo has not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, however, it confirmed on Friday that Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the explosions at hotel Shangri-La.

Man in the centre is believed to be Zahran Hashim

Sri Lankan law enforcers have identified Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts on Sunday; Islamic State had also claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The reports about Hashim, having undergone training in India, came as a surprise to the Indian media which had been trying to implicate Pakistan in the attack.

In a questionnaire sent to the Sri Lankan premier, Indian daily Hindustan Times kept pressing Ranil Wickremesinghe about the role Pakistan could have played in the attack.

However, Wickremesinghe refused to toe the line and instead said that Pakistan fully supported the war on terror and would be contacted if the need arises.

"Pakistan has fully supported Sri Lanka’s war on terror. If necessary, we will seek their help to trace the terrorists and eliminate them. I see this tragic event as further strengthening the trust that exists between our countries and increasing cooperation,” Wickremesinghe asserted in the interview published on Friday.