The Lede

15 Dead In Ampara Shoot-Out

As the Sri Lankan Army cracks down on militants in the wake of the Black Sunday bombings, the death toll of alleged militants and civilians climbs

V Kantha Kumar

Fifteen people were killed in the eastern district of Ampara, as the Sri Lankan Army commenced intense combing operations for militants involved in the Black Sunday Easter bombings of churches in the island nation.

Police, backed up by the Sri Lankan Army, attempted to storm a house in Kalmunai on suspicion of militants being holed up. A gun fight ensued, in which 15 people died, including civilians and six children caught in the crossfire.

Two others have been admitted to a nearby hospital in serious condition. The police recovered the bodies of five alleged militants.

Two suspected suicide bombers were badly injured in the shoot out but managed to escape, said police. Emergency has been clamped down in the area, as search operations are on for the two.

At the Kalmunai house, police announced that they had recovered crucial documents and evidence of the residents of the house being linked to the bombings.

The police also said that a number of those who had played crucial roles in the Colombo blasts were natives of Sainthamaruthu area in Ampara district.

Terror group Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility for the Easter suicide bombings in Lanka which claimed close to 300 lives. Police said that videos of allegiance to the Islamic State by the local militants were found and that these videos had been filmed in Kalmunai.

The symbols of the IS have also been recovered from the clothes worn by the suicide bombers, according to the police. In the videos recorded by the local militants, there are screens seen in the background and police said that one of the screens present in the video was found in Kalmunai.

This, according to the police, conclusively proves that this residence was being used by the suicide bombers.

On Friday, a large haul of explosives were recovered from the Sainthamaruthu area including explosives, detonators and drones, said Army spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu.