Press Trust of india

Easter attack: Lanka court extends remand of 61 NTJ terrorists till Feb 12

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Colombo, Jan 30: The remand of 61 Islamic extremists, arrested in connection with Sri Lanka’s worst attack on Easter Sunday, has been extended till February 12 by a court on Thursday.

Nine suicide bombers on April 21 last year carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many high-end hotels, killing 258 people, including eight Indians, in Lanka’s deadliest violence since the brutal civil war ended in 2009.

The 61 suspects are members of the National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ), police said.

The Batticaloa High Court extended their remand till February 12, they said.

The Islamic State had claimed the responsibility for the Easter attacks, but the government blamed the NTJ for the bombings.

The Lankan government on April 27 banned the NTJ and designated it as a terrorist organisation.

Nearly 300 suspects have been arrested so far in connection with the bombings.

A state of emergency was clamped in the country for a period of four months from April to August.

Earlier this week, police recorded the statement of former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the terror attack.

The government headed jointly by Wickremesinghe and then president Maithripala Sirisena was blamed for failing to prevent the island’s worst terror attack despite prior intelligence.

The warnings by the Indian intelligence about a possible terror attack in Lanka were said to be ignored by the authorities due to the deep running political tug of war.

After the attacks, Sirisena had said that a friendly neighbour provided additional information but senior officials did not share the intelligence with him. Also, Wickremesinghe said he was not privy to the intelligence reports.

A series of panels were appointed by both factions of the government to probe lapses in ignoring warnings for the attacks, which crippled the country’s tourism industry.

Sirisena’s probe resulted in the unprecedented imprisonment of the then police chief and the top defence ministry administrator, while a parliamentary probe pinned the president’s shortcomings in handling the security apparatus.

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