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'Mother of Satan' bombs show foreign hand in Sri Lanka bombings: investigators

AFP  |  Colombo 

One month after the suicide attacks that killed more than 250 people, investigators have told AFP the bombers used "Mother of Satan" explosives favoured by the Islamic State group that are a new sign of foreign involvement.

Detectives said the back-pack bombs used in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three hotels were manufactured by local jihadists with Islamic State expertise.

They named the explosive as triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, an unstable but easily made mixture favoured by Islamic State militants who call it "Mother of Satan".

It was also used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, by a suicide bomber who hit the in England in 2017 and attacks on churches in one year ago.

Islamic State has claimed the Sri Lankan bombers operated as part of its franchise. But Sri Lankan and international investigators are anxious to know just how much outside help went into the attacks that left 258 dead and 500 injured.

"The group had easy access to and fertiliser to get the raw materials to make TATP," an involved in the investigation told AFP.

Sri Lankan detectives say the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), local militants blamed for the attacks, must have had foreign help to assemble the bombs.

"They would have had a face-to-face meeting to transfer this technology. This is not something you can do by watching a YouTube video," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Investigators had initially believed that C4 explosives -- a favoured weapon of Tamil Tiger rebels -- were used, but forensic tests found TATP which causes more burning than C4.

Police have also confirmed that 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives found in January in the island's northwest was TATP.

They are checking the of the suicide bombers as well as foreign suspects to see when and where bomb-making lessons could have been staged. "It looks like they used a cocktail of TATP and gelignite and some in the attacks. They were short of the 100 kilos of raw TATP that were seized in January," said the

Sri Lankan security forces have staged a series of raids since the bombings. said Sunday that 89 suspects are in custody. said last week that at least two suspects have been arrested in and Saudi Arabia, underscoring the international link.

On April 26, six militants, three widows of the suicide bombers and six of their children were killed at an NTJ safe house near the eastern coastal town of Police found large quantities of and fertilizer there that was probably meant to make bombs, authorities said.

The government has admitted that Indian warnings of the looming attacks in early April were ignored.

But has said eight are helping the investigation. A team is in and Britain, and have provided forensic and technical support.

offered a fleet of vehicles to bolster the mobility of the security forces tracking down militants.

The Sri Lankan who led the attacks, Zahran Hashim, was known to have travelled to in the months before he became one of the suicide bombers.

Moderate Muslims had warned authorities about the who first set off alarm bells in 2017 when he threatened non-Muslims.

He was one of two bombers who killed dozens of victims at Colombo's on April 21.

Senanayake said Hashim had travelled to state in and been in contact with Islamists there.

Hashim, one of seven bombers who staged the attacks, also appeared in an Islamic State group video that claimed responsibility for the attacks. Another bomber who was meant to have hit a fourth hotel, has been named as who studied aviation engineering in Britain and Authorities in the two are investigating whether he was radicalised whilst abroad.

Jameel blew himself up when confronted at a hideout after the attacks.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 21 2019. 19:41 IST
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