A team of officers attached to the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) to conduct an investigation to the residences of two Easter Sunday bombers at Mahavila Gardens, Dematagoda on April 21, 2019, went without any weapon except one service pistol with ten bullets and handcuffs, a Sgt. Wasantha Sisira Kumara who was attached to the Wattala police yesterday informed the PCoI investigating Easter Sunday suicide attacks.
He informed the Commission that the team of six CCD officers was not aware that there could be explosives in the house or would have to encounter any conflict at that moment.
During the search operation, three police officers attached to the CCD were reported dead from an explosion that took place at a residence at Mahavila Gardens in Dematagoda.
Testifying before the Commission, the witness said that SI Rohana Bandara who conducted the search operation as the head of the team said that they were going to check a house in Dematagoda.
Then the Commissioners questioned the witness that who had given the instructions to SI Rohana Bandara and the witness said the latter was instructed by ASP Somarathna. “During the search operation, SI Bandara had his service weapon while the other officer had a pair of handcuffs,” he said.
The witness told the Commission that when they reached Mahawila Gardens residence and the building was identified as the residence of Ibrahim bothers. An old person whom we later got to know was Mohammed Ibrahim, the father of the two suicide bombers and he led the team into the house without any hesitation and the main door of the house was wide open at that time,” witness said.
At that point, some CID officers also joined the search operation team.
“When we went inside, SI Rohana Bandara asked one of the officers to talk to the two men who were at the entrance of the house. I was about go to the first floor, but SI Bandara told me to search the ground floor and we noticed some women were there on the ground floor,” he said.
The witness said that SI Bandara rushed to the first floor with two other officers and he (witness) was on the ground floor attempting to question those women.
“I saw some women in the room crying and I heard SI Bandara was knocking at the door on the first floor. The two men who were at the front door previously were also questioned and then handcuffed. Within a few seconds there was a very loud explosion and I was thrown to the ground due to the impact of the blast. When I got up, I saw the three officers who went to the first floor were missing and I called the CCD for back up,” he said.
He said within a few minutes, the Special Task Force (STF) personnel came and went inside the house with Mohammed Ibrahim to switch off the mains as there was a fire inside the house.
“However, while they were trying to switch off the power in the house, a second explosion went off and everybody came running out of the premises. The STF could only go inside the house after the fire brigade had doused the fire. There we saw the bodies of SI Bandara, Perera and Dulanjana. I also saw mutilated bodies of a woman and children were strewn in the area,” the witness said.
During the testimony, the PCoI watched some CCTV footage of the incident and it clearly showed that after the second explosion, the officers with Mohammed Ibrahim were running out of the house but Ibrahim looked so nonchalant of the incident.
Then a commissioner questioned the witness whether he had noticed that too. In response, the witness said that he felt that the occupants were aware of the incident, even before the search operation had begun.
“Although there was a huge explosion, Ibrahim and the family members were very calm and there was no panic,” the witness added.
Wife of Shangri La suicide bomber, Fatima Ibrahim had placed a bomb on a tiled floor, brought her children next to her and blew herself up, Crime Officer Ajith Priyantha Peduruarchchi who investigated the site where the blast occurred at Mahawila Gardens informed PCoI into investigating Easter Sunday attacks on Wednesday (03).
He informed the Commission that there had been two blasts happened at the house at Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda on April 21, 2019 and the blast was a powerful explosion which had damaged a considerable area of the room and the floor of the house.
Aftermath of the Mahavila Gardens blast at Dematagoda on April 21, 2019. The photos were released to the media by the Commission yesterday.