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Will seek Pakistan’s help to eliminate terrorists: Sri Lankan PM

April 26 , 2019

Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures as he answers questions from a journalist during a press conference in Colombo on April 23, 2019. AFP

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Friday that his government is investigating the possibility of foreign links with Sunday’s attacks in Colombo, but they have yet to see evidence that suggests any particular country backed these terrorists.

At least 253 people, including 45 children, were killed in a series of suicide attacks on churches and hotels April 21 in Colombo.

Soon after the attacks, Indian TV channels began airing reports of Pakistani militants’ involvement in the attacks. No Sri Lankan official confirmed the involvement of any country in the Colombo attacks.

“Pakistan has fully supported Sri Lanka’s war on terror,” PM Wickremesinghe told Hindustan Times. “If necessary, we will seek their help to trace the terrorists and eliminate them.”

Related story: American Muslim wrongly identified as Sri Lanka attacks suspect

PM Wickremesinghe praised the Muslim community in Sri Lanka for being “patient” in the face of provocations. “I must commend their political leaders for maintaining inter-religious harmony.”

The blasts have been claimed by the Islamic State group, with Sri Lanka’s government pointing fingers at the little-known local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath, but saying the group likely had “international” help.

“Certainly the security apparatus is of the view that there are foreign links and some of the evidence points to that,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told media on Tuesday night.

“We’ve been following up on this claim. There were suspicions that there were links with ISIS,” he added, using another name for IS.

At least 74 people have been taken into custody, including a man believed to be the father of two of the bombers. Sri Lanka president Sirisena said security forces were hunting more IS supporters.

“We now have info that there are about 140 people in Sri Lanka linked to the Islamic State. We can and we will eradicate all of them very soon,” the president said.

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