Colombo: An Islamic extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings led an attack against a Colombo hotel, the President Maithripala Sirisena confirmed Friday.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group. He added that Hashim led the attack against the high-end hotel and was accompanied by a second bomber, identified only as ‘Ilham’. He said the information came from military intelligence and was based in part on CCTV footage recovered from the scene.
Hashim also appeared in a video released by the Islamic State group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts were not immediately clear.
Security forces had been on a desperate hunt for Hashim, believed to be around 40, after the government named the group he led – the National Thowheeth Jama’ath – as its prime suspect.
His appearance in the IS video, where he is seen leading a group of seven others in a pledge of allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, only heightened fears about the radical.
In another development, the Sri Lankan police have released the pictures of six suspects, three men and an equal number of women who are wanted for their involvement in the terror attacks. Police have released the pictures along with their names seeking information from the public. So far till date, the police have arrested 76 suspects.