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15 people, including 6 children, die as Sri Lankan police raid suspected Islamist safe house

The deaths came as three cornered suicide bombers blew themselves up and others were shot.

Soldiers stand guard for checkpoints in the street of Colombo earlier this week
Soldiers stand guard for checkpoints in the street of Colombo earlier this week
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

FIFTEEN PEOPLE, INCLUDING six children, have died during a raid by Sri Lankan security forces, police have said. 

The deaths came as three cornered suicide bombers blew themselves up and others were shot. 

The three men set off explosives inside what was believed to be an Islamist safe house near the eastern town of Kalmunai, which is 370 kilometres from the capital, last night. This killed three women and six children inside.

“Three other men, also believed to be suicide bombers, were found dead outside the house,” police said in a statement.

Police, backed by troops, exchanged fire with those inside the house for over an house, according to a military official. 

The bodies were recovered early this morning following a search operation. 

Gunmen opened fire on on troops when they attempted to storm the house under cover of darkness, a military spokesman said, adding that a civilian had got caught in the crossfire and died.

The joint operation was carried out following a tip off that those responsible for the Easter suicide bombings were holed up in a built up area of Kalmunai.

There were no casualties among the security forces, the police said.

The clashes came hours after the security forces raided a nearby location where they believe Islamist radicals recorded a video pledge to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out the deadly Easter bombings, which killed 253 people.

Police found an IS flag and uniforms similar to those worn by the eight fighters for the video before they launched Sunday’s attacks.

“We have found the backdrop the group used to record their video,” the police said in an earlier statement on Friday night.

The Islamic State group had released the video two days after the attack.

Police showed the clothing and the flag on national television, as well as some 150 sticks of dynamite and about 100,000 ball bearings seized from the house.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019

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