Sri Lanka on alert for attacks by militants in military uniforms

Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) personnel gesture outside a house during a raid in the Orugodawatta area of the capital, Colombo, April 21, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Sri Lankan security officials have warned that militants behind a series of deadly blasts targeting churches and hotels on Easter Sunday are planning a new wave of such attacks and could disguised in military uniforms.

Reuters cited security sources as saying that five locations are the target of the assaults, which were planned to take place on Sunday and Monday.

“There could be another wave of attacks,” the head of ministerial security division (MSD), a unit of the police, said in a letter to lawmakers and other officials, seen by Reuters on Monday. “The relevant information further notes that persons dressed in military uniforms and using a van could be involved in the attacks.”

No attack was reported in Sri Lanka on Sunday. Security forces have beefed up security across the country amid worries over imminent attacks later on Monday.

Sri Lankan police on Sunday raided the headquarters of a radical group suspected of being behind a series of bloody bomb attacks on churches and hotels, as the country announced new security measures, including the cancellation of all Sunday masses as well as a ban on face covering, for fear of further such bombings.

On Sunday, the country marked one week since eight bomb attacks hit churches and luxury hotels in the capital, Colombo, and two other cities. At least 253 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in the bombings, which took place when churches were crowded with worshipers marking Easter Sunday.

Police forced stormed the headquarters of the so-called Nations Thawahid Jaman (NTJ) in the town of Kattankudy, searching the place and detaining a man there, Reuters reported.

The NTJ’s founder, Zahran Hashim, is believed to have masterminded the serial blasts. He blew himself up at a hotel in Colombo on the day of the carnage.

Sri Lankan authorities have banned the group under the emergency laws they announced in the aftermath of the attacks.