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The police and miliary “were proceeding in search of a location, said to be producing suicide bomb kits and explosives,” the Sri Lankan Army said in a statement, when five or six people “had begun firing at them.”In the shootout, two terrorists and one civilian were killed, said Maj. Aruna Jayasekara, the commander of security forces in the east.Around midnight, security forces still had the area cordoned off and were concerned there might be one or more suicide bombers inside the house, which was in an area populated by civilians, General Jayasekara said.He said he believed there were as many as 140 supporters of the Islamic State in Sri Lanka, according to news reports.Sunday Masses at Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic churches were suspended until further notice, the archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, said Friday. Hundreds of police officers scoured the capital on Thursday looking for three men and three women who are believed to be connected to the bombers.Before the bombings, the country’s intelligence forces knew of — and were monitoring — dozens of people in Sri Lanka who had traveled to Syria and joined the Islamic State, and others who had developed radical ties while in other countries, officials have said.Pressed this week about why such people had been allowed into the country, the prime minister protested that no law in Sri Lanka prevented them from joining or fighting for a terrorist group overseas, or returning home afterward. Wickremesinghe also apologized in an address to the nation Friday.“As the prime minister of Sri Lanka, I accept collective government responsibility for the failure to protect people from these attacks.
Images posted online appear to show the Sri Lankans pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks, though its exact role is not clear. Sirisena said that security forces were making widespread arrests, and that more than 70 people had been held so far.Sri Lankan security officials had written a memo 10 days before the attacks describing the threat of bombings, with names, addresses and phone numbers of those believed to be involved, but the president and prime minister say the warning never reached them.Several of the bombers had been arrested and then released in recent months. Sirisena vowed to take action against anyone who had failed to prevent the attack, putting particular blame on two officials: the defense secretary, who resigned on Thursday, and the inspector general of the police, who stepped down on Friday.“They did not say a word about this warning letter,” Mr. “It was a serious lapse on their part and shirk of responsibility.”The Sri Lankan government has been consumed by months of infighting, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a rival of the president, has complained that he was excluded from security meetings.COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s security forces will conduct a house-to-house search to root out terrorists, the country’s president said on Friday, as the shaken nation grappled with new violence in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday carnage that killed at least 250 people.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s comments, in which he also promised a “total reorganization” of the security apparatus, were seen as tough talk to deflect criticism of the government’s failure to act on repeated warnings about terrorist attacks.On Saturday morning, the military said 15 bodies had been found in the house, including those of four suicide bombers who had detonated their explosives.