Aftermath of violence reveals signs of further Sri Lanka terror plans
SAINTHAMARUTHU, Sri Lanka — They arrived a day or two after the Easter Sunday bombings and moved into a low-slung house behind a high wall and black metal gate, unloading boxes from a pale gray minivan.
But the neighbors in the seaside town of Sainthamaruthu soon began to suspect something wasn’t right. Finally, a group of residents asked the new arrivals — men, women and children — to leave town.
Within hours, the quiet lane was a war zone.
On Friday, at least 15 people, including six children, were killed in bomb blasts and gunfire as Sri Lankan security forces closed in on the house.
Police believe the explosions were triggered deliberately — the final violent acts of a group whose hideout had bombmaking items and black backpacks. This, authorities say, suggests just one thing: possible plans for the next steps in a campaign of terror that began April 21 with bombings at churches that claimed more than 250 lives.
On Saturday, after the chaos, crime scene personnel in fluorescent vests roamed around the home.
The confrontation came amid a nationwide security crackdown and searches for suspects across the country. Police have deployed new emergency powers to stop and question individuals and to conduct raids.
When authorities entered the home in Sainthamaruthu at dawn on Saturday, they found the charred bodies of children in a corner. They also discovered two survivors. An injured woman and toddler were taken to the hospital.
The home contained bombmaking equipment, including detonators, wires, plastic tubes for explosives and three identical brand-new black backpacks.