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15 dead in Sri Lanka shootout in hunt for Islamist bombers

ECONOMYNEXT – Fifteen people including 6 children had died in a shootout and explosions during an overnight raid on a suspected hideout of members of an Islamist group that carried out deadly bombing in churches and hotels that killed over 250 people, police said.

Police and Special Task Force officers who were raiding a the safe house in Amparai district, were shot at and following a gun battle, the area was cordoned off, Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Bodies of three males suspected to be militants were recovered from outside the house.

In search operations in the morning, authorities recovered bodies of 6 children, 6 women, and 3 males inside a house. 

A badly injured woman and child found inside the house were taken to hospital, he said.

The raid was conducted following a tip-off to a traffic division policeman that suspicious persons were in the house, Gunasekera said.

Authorities are on the hunt for over 130 members of two extremist groups following the Easter bombings.

Islamic State, an extremist group had claimed responsibility. Police also recovered Islamic State flags and robes and a backdrop similar to what was shown on an IS website, where the alleged leader of the group was seen making a pledge with a group of others.  (Colombo/Apr27/2019-SB)