Two days after the Easter Day carnage in Sri Lanka in which suspected Islamist terrorist slaughtered more than 300 people, the United States and India have warned Colombo of fresh attacks.
"Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka ... Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls," Washington said in the latest travel advisory, the Japan Times reported, citing Agence France Presse and Jiji Press. The communique also says attacks could be lunched at other public locations like hotels, clubs, restaurants, and places of worship, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Indian security agencies told Sri Lanka that more attacks by another team of the National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) was likely, the Hindustan Times reported. The report said the fresh attacks could be led by an operative named Jal al-Quital alias Rilwan Marzag.
The HT report also says Zahran Hashim, who founded NTJ in Sri Lanka in 2014, had probably nurtured connections with foreign jihadist networks. Hashim has been reportedly identified as the suicide bomber who set off the bomb at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on Sunday. His brother-in-law, Noufar Moulvi, recently returned from Qatar to assume charge of the terror outfit, the report says.
Sirisena in the dock
Sri Lanka said on Monday local jihadist group National Thowheed Jamath was behind the serial attacks on Easter Sunday. The government also accepted earlier reports that foreign intelligence agencies had warned of the serial bomb attacks. The admission laid bare the apparent breakdown in government machinery in the aftermath of the political standoff between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena. Ministers close to the Prime Minister have openly said he was not aware of the terror threat alert passed on from India. Sirisena's opponents have put him in the dock as he is vested with national security, the New York Times reported.
Sri Lanka's Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said on Sunday the government would seek international assistance in tracking down the attackers. "National Thowheed Jamath was involved. It is a local organisation, we don't know whether they are linked to outsiders. All those arrested are locals," the minister added.
Images of bombers
NTJ, a radical Islamist organisation, has been active in Sri Lanka for some years. It grabbed headlines last year after the vandalisation of Buddhist statues in the country.
No terror outfit has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on Catholic churches and high-end hotels. As many as seven suicide bombers were involved in the deadly strike. At the same time NTJ had earlier denied any role in the Sunday carnage. It decried the attack on its Facebook page and demanded strict punishment for those who carried out the attacks.
Meanwhile, intelligence groups monitoring terror networks said images of three of the suspected attackers were revealed through the Telegram men accounts of the Isis affilaites.