Colombo: The Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday said coastal guard vessels and personnel have been alerted following reports of boats allegedly carrying 15 local Islamic State (IS) members had set off for India's Lakshadweep islands. A top official source of the Kerala Police Saturday said that the state's coastal police stations and the police chiefs of the coastal districts have been alerted following intelligence reports that boats allegedly carrying 15 IS terrorists had set off from Sri Lanka to the Lakshadweep islands.
"The Navy has come to know through the reports in local and Indian media that some 15 local IS members were moving to India's Lakshadweep islands through the sea route," Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Isuru Suriyabandara said. "We have alerted all our coastal guard vessels and personnel," he added.
The spokesperson also said the Navy had not received any official information in this regard. "The possibility of the local Jihadi group members moving to India, however, had not been communicated to the Navy through the official channels," Suriyabandara said.
Sri Lanka witnessed the worst terror attacks on its soil, when nine suicide bombers carried out a series devastating blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels on April 21, killing around 260 people, including over 40 foreigners, and injuring 500 others. The IS claimed responsibility for the blasts but Sri Lanka government said it was carried out by a local jihadi group, the National Thoweed Jamaath (NTJ).
Since the April 21 suicide attacks, the Sri Lanka Army has launched an island-wide operation to search for people having links with the NTJ. During which, one of the associates of NTJ leader Zahran Cassim, who blew himself up at one of the hotels during the Easter Sunday attacks, was arrested.
The Sri Lanka Army Sunday said it continued with its operations to search for the local network of the IS in the district of Colombo and its suburbs. "Around 120 people had been arrested during four days of cordon-and-search operations. During the drive, some explosives, ammunition, military-like uniforms were recovered from them," the Army officials said, adding some of them were arrested for possessing drugs.
Meanwhile, a group of Buddist monks have accused a cabinet minister and a provincial governor of aiding and abetting the NTJ and lodged a complaint with the police, which has referred to it to the Crime Investigation Department. The monks have accused Industry and Trade Minister Rishath Bathiyutheen and Governor of the Eastern Province M L A M Hisbullah of aiding and abetting NTJ, the group responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks. "The complaint has been referred to the Crime Investigation Department (CID) for further investigation," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.