India link to Sri Lanka Easter attack? Suspects travelled to Kashmir & Kerala, obtained training in terrorism, says island nation’s Army chief

Colombo: Some of the people who carried out serial blasts in Sri Lanka had travelled to India and possibly obtained training in terrorism in Kashmir and Kerala.

Sri Lanka’s army chief Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayke claimed this during an interview with the BBC.

Indian security agencies have been pursuing the link since shortly after the attacks in the island nation.

The army commander said the bombers had gone to India, travelling to Bangalore, Kashmir and Kerala state, according to the information available with Sri Lanka authorities.

Asked about the possible aim of those visits, Senanayke replied: “It would have been for some sort of training or to establish links with other organisations outside the country”.

In India, counter-terror agencies such as the National Investigation Agency have conducted searches in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where they have picked up several people for suspected links to the Islamic State – the Syria-based terror group that claimed liability for the attack.

According to Indian officials who have not to be named, at least two of the suicide bombers had travelled to India in 2017.

A Union home ministry official did not comment on the Sri Lanka Army chief’s remark.

“Sri Lanka hasn’t shared any such information with us. Importantly, Sri Lankan security agencies themselves have ruled this out after investigation,” a senior official in the security establishment, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Till now, Indian investigators have not mentioned a Kashmir link to the Lankan bombers, though leads were still being followed.

One of the key suspects who is believed by Indian officials to have visited India is Islamic preacher Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim – leader of Sri Lanka National Towheed Jama’at (NTJ) and the ringleader of Easter Sunday attackers.