SAMANTHURAI, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan security forces were involved in a shootout and seized bomb-making equipment during raids in the eastern part of the country Friday, as they searched for suspects linked to the Easter Sunday bombings.
A cache of explosives was seized from a house in Samanthurai, following a raid on intelligence information, according to police. Security forces also found SIS uniforms, flags, 150 sticks of explosive Gelignite, 100,000 ball bearings and a drone camera.
Three explosions took place in nearby Kalmunai. Security forces exchanged fire during a security operation in the Sainda-Marudu area of the city, police said.
The raid comes after coordinated attacks on Easter Sunday, which killed 253 people, including many worshipers attending Easter Mass services.
National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ), a local extremist group, has been blamed for the bombings, but has not claimed the attacks. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, but a link between the attackers and the terror group has not been proven.
A news agency linked to ISIS released a video of the purported attackers, which showed them standing in front of a black ISIS banner.
Sri Lankan authorities have been attempting attempting root out any “sleeper” cells who could initiate another round of attacks, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told CNN on Thursday.
On Friday, Sri Lanka’s President announced a “major search operation” in Sri Lanka.
“Every household in the country will be checked,” President Maithripala Sirisena told a press conference according to a statement. “The lists of permanent residents of every house will be established to ensure no unknown persons could live anywhere.”