Sri Lankan police on Saturday found bodies of 15 people, including six children, at a house following a shootout between security forces and suspected militants that began the previous day, Sunday Times reported. The shootout took place in Sainthamaruthu town on the east coast of the island nation.
Four bodies suspected to be those of suicide bombers were found at the site of the shooting, according to adaderana.lk. Police spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara said search operations are still under way at the locations of the blasts.
Gunasekara said the bodies of six men, three women and six children have been found.
The encounter between security forces and a group of armed men broke out on Friday night during a search and cordon operation related to the Easter Sunday attacks. Police had informed troops about a suspected safe house in Sainthamaruthu when the suspected militants triggered three explosions and began firing towards the troops.
At a security council meeting held on Friday night, it was decided that search operations to crack down on extremists must continue until the threat is completely eliminated, according to PTI. Nine suicide bombers had carried out a series of blasts at churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, killing 253 people.
Meanwhile, the State Department of the United States raised the level of its travel warning for Sri Lanka on Friday, urging citizens to reconsider visiting the island nation, AFP reported.
The department, in a statement, has “ordered the departure of all school-age family members of US government employees in kindergarten through 12th grade”. The department said it had authorised non-emergency personnel to leave.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, hospitals, and other public areas,” the department said.