- sources say militants targeting 5 locations on Sunday or Monday
Sri Lankan security officers have warned that Islamist militants behind Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings were planning imminent attacks and could be dressed in military uniforms, according to Reuters.
Security sources said the militants were targeting five locations for attacks on Sunday or Monday.
“There could be another wave of attacks,” the head of ministerial security division (MSD), a unit of the police, said in a letter to lawmakers and other officers, seen by Reuters on Monday.
“The relevant information further notes that persons dressed in military uniforms and using a van could be involved in the attacks.” There were no attacks on Sunday, and security across Sri Lanka has been ramped up, with scores of suspected Islamists arrested since the April 21 attacks on hotels and churches that killed more than 250 people including 40 foreigners.
Two Cabinet ministers and two opposition lawmakers confirmed to Reuters that they were aware of the latest security alert. “We have been informed about this by the MSD,” Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.
The government has also banned women from wearing face veils under an emergency law that was put in place after the attacks.
There were concerns within the Muslim community that the ban could fuel tensions in the multi-ethnic nation. But government officials said it would help security forces identify people as a hunt for any remaining attacker and their support network continues across the island, which was gripped by civil war for decades until 2009.
Authorities suspect members of two little known groups – National Tawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and Jamiyyathul Millathu Ibrahim – of carrying out the Easter attacks, though Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said a tight-knit group of people was involved, mostly close friends and families. They spoke face-to-face, possibly to evade electronic surveillance.
“They (the group) were small enough that they were not using normal communications, instead meeting each other,” the premier told Reuters.
He said the coordinated bombings, the type of explosives used and the tightly-guarded plot suggested the bombers had guidance. “ISIS (Islamic State) has claimed, we also felt there has to be some international links,” he said.