The Sri Lankan police on Friday said that they had arrested five suspects, who are allegedly linked to banned extremist group National Thowheed Jamaath and its leader Zahran Hashim, in Horowpathana, Daily Mirror reported. Sri Lankan investigators had blamed the National Thowheed Jamath for the Easter Sunday, which had claimed 253 lives.
The Islamic State group, however, had claimed responsibility for the terror attacks.
The five arrested accused, the police said, include a development officer attached to the Horowpathana Divisional Secretariat, a district government school teacher, two teachers from a school in Kiwulekada and a resident of Kebithigollewa. The investigators claimed that the suspects had delivered sermons that had extremist content in Anuradhapura and Trincomalee.
The National Thowheed Jamaath had allegedly sent money to the suspects via one of the main accused in the Easter Sunday attacks, who is out of the country, the police said.
Meanwhile, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that the chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to monitor the investigation into the attacks is free to make its proceedings open to media, the local daily said.
The Easter Sunday bombings
On April 21, nine suicide bombers carried out a series of blasts at three churches and several luxury hotels. On April 26, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena had said that Zahran Hashim, who allegedly played a key role in the blasts, had died in the explosion at the Shangri-La hotel. The country’s investigators had also accused the Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim of assisting the National Thowheed Jamath.
The Sri Lankan Police have arrested over 1,000 people since the attacks took place. Police officials say that all those responsible for the blasts have either been killed or arrested.
On May 13, Sri Lanka had imposed a nationwide curfew after mobs attacked mosques and shops of Muslim owners. The government had also temporarily blocked social media and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp after a mosque was attacked in Chilaw.
Almost 10% of the nation’s population are Muslims while the majority are Sinhalese Buddhists.