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CCTV footage of suicide bombers played before PCoI

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Mohammed Azam Mohammed Mubarak and Mohammed Hastun, who blew themselves up inside the Kingsbury Hotel and at the Katuwapitiya Church respectively. On April 11 2019, they purchased nine backpacks and eight shawls that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) members wore in the video pledging allegiance to ISIS, the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks was informed, on Tuesday (27).

Testifying before the PCoI, an officer attached to the CID played CCTV footage and bills pertaining to the above mentioned shops in Colombo.

“The suicide bombers visited Decathlon, a sports shop in Battaramulla to purchase backpacks and a shop in Grandpass, Colombo 14 to get the shawls,” the CID officer said.

They had stayed in a safe house at Paraththa Road, Panadura before the attack, the witness said.

The CID also found empty polythene bags with ball bearings, vehicle number plates, a bill from a car park in Negombo and several empty chemical cans from the Panadura safe house.

The CID officer said: “The NTJ members hired a lorry from a cab service at Boralesgamuwa to transfer materials from Panadura to Kalmunai on April 20, 2019 and the information provided by the cab driver allowed the CID to detect the safe house in Kalmunai.”

The owner of the Panadura safe house, Abdul Mohammed Ilaham, testifying before the PCoI said that on February 2, 2019 two NTJ members had signed the agreement to rent his house. The NTJ members had advanced Rs. 480,000, he said.

Earlier it was revealed that 12 NTJ members had remained in the East to carry out a second wave of attacks in August 2019.

The witness, an SIS officer, whose name cannot be divulged due to a request made by the PCoI, said the NTJ had maintained eight safe houses in the East and they had stockpiled explosives.

He said: “The white clothes that were brought from Giriulla a few days before the attacks were to be worn by those who were to carry out the second wave of attacks. They were planning to attack the Kandy Esala Perahera. The 12 terrorists killed in Sainthamaruthu were to carry it out.”

The witness added that if attacking Kandy Esala Perahera was not possible, NTJ members would have attacked other temples. If the SIS, the police, army and the STF had not carried out a combined operation in the East after April 21, 2019 and eradicated those who were to carry out the second wave; there would have been disastrous consequences, he said.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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