KOCHI: Some of the Easter suicide bombers visited Kerala, Bengaluru and Kashmir for training, the Sri Lankan Army Chief has said, the first time a top official from the island nation has confirmed the terrorists’ visits to India.
The attackers “have gone to India, they've gone to Kashmir, Bengaluru, they've travelled to Kerala state,” Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake told BBC on Friday in an interview. They visited India for training and to establish links with other terror groups, Lanka's army chief said and added the pattern of the operation showed the involvement of those from outside the country.
India had sent multiple specific alerts to Lanka before the April 21 attacks on hotels and churches in the island nation in which 253 died, but Colombo had ignored the warnings.
Neither the Kerala police nor the NIA has refuted the statement of Lanka's army chief. While Kerala police chief Loknath Behera said the state has been extending all support to the National Investigation Agency in its probe, NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal said he could not comment on what Lanka's army chief has said.
Official sources, however, told this newspaper that special units of various agencies are coordinating in the probe to ascertain the role of Keralites in the Lanka blasts and are looking at the network established by those involved in the Easter attack in Tamil Nadu and other states. “Special squads have been formed to probe the case and a breakthrough is expected in the coming days,” an officer said.
The recruitment of Malayalees to the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Lanka attacks, has been taking place from August 2015 and police have identified at least 35 people who went to Syria. Probes by the Kerala police and NIA have shown that IS operatives have established sleeper cells in the state.