Extremists In Sri Lanka Add 15 More To Country’s Death Toll

Fifteen dead in Sri Lanka after overnight gun battle with suspected Islamist militants

Gunasekara gave the figures early Saturday after a gunfight between soldiers and the suspected militants near Sammanthurai.

The three men set off explosives killing three women and six children inside what was believed to a terrorist safe house near the eastern town of Kalmunai on Friday night.

The raids came after the coordinated attacks on Easter Sunday, which killed 253 people, including many worshipers attending Easter Mass services.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for three men who blew themselves up in clashes with Sri Lankan police, the militant group said in a statement.

This undated image posted by the Islamic State group's Aamaq news agency on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, purports to show Mohammed Zahran, a.k.a. Zahran Hashmi, center, the man Sri Lanka says led the Easter attack that killed over 300 people, as well as other attackers.

Sri Lanka's Catholics awoke to celebrate Sunday mass in their homes by a televised broadcast as churches across the island nation shut over fears of militant attacks.

Sri Lankan security personnel walk next to dead bodies on the floor amid blast debris at St. Anthony's Shrine following an explosion in the church in Colombo on April 21, 2019.

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Police said that one or more suicide bombers detonated the blasts as security forces attempted to storm the house.

In another raid in the same town police found IS flags, 150 sticks of gelignite, thousands of steel pellets and a drone camera, a military spokesman said.

Police said they found an IS flag and uniforms similar to those worn by the eight fighters for the video before they launched the attacks. The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka has also warned the public to stay away from places of worship over the weekend - a stark alert underlining that authorities believe that attackers remain at large.

Security forces have carried out raids across the country since the bombings last Sunday, which killed at least 250. President Maithripala Sirisena said Friday that over 130 suspects linked to the ISIS have been operating in the country.

Cardinal Ranjith said that the Church had not been told about intelligence warnings of possible attacks.

A "major search operation has been undertaken", Sirisena said. "We don't have a word (strong enough) to curse them".

According to the report, Indian officials have pointed to evidence that Zahran Hashim the leader of National Thawheed Jama'ut which carried out the attacks maintained virtual links with youth believed to be of Indian origin. "Every household in the country will be checked".

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