The US State Department on Friday urged its citizens to reconsider visiting Sri Lanka in the wake of a devastating series of suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people. The department has “ordered the departure of all school-age family members of US government employees in kindergarten through 12th grade,” it said in a statement, adding that it had also authorised non-emergency personnel to leave.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, hospitals, and other public areas,” it said.
On Friday, Sri Lankan security forces raided a hideout in a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood in the Eastern province on Friday evening, triggering a standoff with heavily-armed men believed to be linked to the deadly Easter attacks.
Police spokesman said at least one suicide bomber blew himself up during the shootout in the coastal town of Sammanthurai, 325 kilometers from Colombo. The police said they have seized a large haul of explosives, a drone and a banner with the Islamic State logo
"Garbs similar to that which were worn in the video displaying ISIS members in Sri Lanka, along with an identical ISIS backdrop in the video was discovered during the raid," a police official said.
Nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday, killing 253 people.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and country’s police chief Pujith Jayasundara to resign after their failure to prevent the deadly suicide blasts despite having the prior intelligence inputs about the attacks.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the devastating Easter blasts in Sri Lanka and identified the seven suicide bombers who were involved in the attacks.