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  • Security personnel stand guard outside a church after a bomb blast in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019.

    Security personnel stand guard outside a church after a bomb blast in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 June 2019

The coordinated terrorist suicide bomb attacks on hotels and churches sent shockwaves through the Indian Ocean island state that had enjoyed relative peace since a civil war ended a decade ago.

The Sri Lankan authorities have brought back five suspects that fled to Saudi Arabia after the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people, the police said in a statement on Friday.

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The authorities declined to provide the details regarding the arrest of these five suspects; however, the police did confirm that they were Sri Lankan nationals.

“These are the five remaining leaders of the April 21 terrorist group,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told reporters.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks that authorities said were carried out by two little-known domestic groups - the National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim.

Police declined to give information about the nature of the five suspects’ roles in the attacks but said one of them, identified as Mohamed Milhan, was a senior member of the NTJ.

“He could have been the next leader,” Gunasekera said.

Authorities have arrested more than 2,000 people in connection with the attacks. While courts have released most of them on bail, 634 remain in detention.

Authorities say the threat of more attacks has been contained and the security services have dismantled most of the network linked to the bombings.

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