The Latest: Police enter mosque of Easter attacks-tied group
AMPARA, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Latest on the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka (all times local):
Sri Lankan police have entered the main mosque of National Towheed Jamaat, just a day after authorities declared it and another organization terror groups over the Easter suicide bombings.
Police entered the mosque, located in Kattankudy in eastern Sri Lanka, on Sunday afternoon and stopped an interview with foreign journalists and officials at the mosque.
Later, a senior police officer dispersed journalists waiting outside, saying authorities were conducting a “cordon and search operation.”
Police then left, locking up the mosque just before afternoon prayers were to start.
Authorities banned National Towheed Jamaat over its ties to Mohammed Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the attacks that killed over 250 people a week ago.
The Islamic State group has claimed three of the militants killed in a shootout with police in eastern Sri Lanka.
In a statement published early Sunday by the extremists’ Aamaq news agency, IS gave their noms du guerre as Abu Hammad, Abu Sufyan and Abu al-Qa’qa.
It says they opened fire with automatic weapons and “after exhausting their ammunition, detonated on them their explosive belts.”
IS falsely claimed their militants killed 17 “disbelievers” in the attack. The militants often exaggerate their claims.
The claim carried a photograph of two men before an IS flag, one carrying a Chinese variant of the Kalashnikov rifle like the one found at the scene, another smiling.
Sri Lanka’s military says the gunfight Friday night in Ampara District left 15 dead, including six children.