The Sri Lankan authorities think that the local radical-Islamic group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) carried out the bloody bombings of Sunday. The extremists may have received support from abroad, the government says.
The NTJ is a relatively unknown group that has previously been associated with the destruction of Buddhist images. A senior police officer would have recently warned that the organization was planning to carry out attacks.
Sri Lanka is planning to request international assistance with the investigation. There are indications that “local terrorists” received support from foreign terrorist organizations, reports the office of President Maithripala Sirisena.
State of emergency
Sirisena is also going to declare a national emergency. It must take effect today at midnight (8.30 p.m.). Security services are then given more powers to detain and interrogate people.
The attacks cost the lives of nearly three hundred people, including dozens of foreigners. The authorities have now arrested 24 people. According to a source within the police, they belong to an “extremist group”.
“Nothing was done with valuable information”
The vice-president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka says he warned about the NTJ about three years ago. Deadly violence against non-Muslims would have been encouraged by that group. Vice-president Hilmy Ahamed said he passed on names and data to the authorities, among other things. “They have not done anything with it. That’s the tragedy,” said Ahamed in an interview with news agency Bloomberg.
Ahamed calls the ideas of the NTJ “extremist”, but also stressed that not all members are radicalized. He argues that the organization fell apart into splinter groups because individual leaders independently searched for sources of money.