In major breakthrough, a top Sri Lankan minister has confirmed on Tuesday that a radical cleric, who is now under detention, has been identified as the mastermind of the deadly Easter Sunday attacks.
Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekera told reporters that, “Naufer Moulavi was the mastermind (of the Easter bombings).”
Nine suicide bombers had killed 270 people, including 11 Indians in 2019.
The attackers who belong to the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) which is linked to ISIS, carried out coordinated blasts.
Weerasekera said that the cleric was assisted by another person identified as Hajjul Akbar. He said 32 suspects have been charged with murder and conspiracy to murder. Eight dossiers have been handed over to the Attorney General, he said, adding that another 75 suspects are under detention.
The total number of suspects in the remand custody is 211, including the 32, who have been charged, he added.
The Buddhist-majority nation was about to mark a decade since ending a 37-year-long Tamil separatist war in May 2009 when the suicide bombings in 2019 rocked the country.
The attacks caused a political storm as the then government headed by President Maithirpala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was blamed for its inability to prevent the deadly attacks despite the prior intelligence made available on the impending terror strikes.
The Colombo Church has been holding a ‘Black Sunday’ congregation every week, demanding justice for the victims.