The extremist believed to be the main person of interest in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, verified by the country’s president this morning.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters.
The President was referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group, who appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts was not immediately clear.
President Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim’s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s top police official, Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, has resigned over failures that led to the deadly Easter bomb attacks.
The government also announced that the attackers were members of the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ), an extremist Muslim group that appeared after the Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009.
Sirisena also said police are looking for 140 people believed to have links with the Daesh group over the attacks.
Muslims in Sri Lanka are fearing a backlash, holidaymakers and residents are leaving the country in the wake of the Easter massacre.
Sirisena told reporters some Sri Lankan youths had been involved with the extremist group since 2013, and that top defence and police chiefs had not shared information with him about the impending attacks.
The investigations by the Sri Lankans are also exploring how the groups are being armed, early reports suggest an Israeli backed armed sales are to blame.
Defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday, following the Easter Sunday massacre, where Indian intelligence authorities had pre-warned the Sri Lankans that an attack was imminent.