On 26 April 2019, Sri Lankan security forces and National Thowheeth Jama'ath militants linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant clashed when the security forces raided a house in the town of Sainthamaruthu in Ampara District at around 7.30 pm. The house had been used by the militants to manufacture explosives and suicide vests. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up killing nine of their family members, including six children, while four other suspects where shot dead by the soldiers. A civilian was killed and two others are injured during the crossfire.
|Part of terrorism in Sri Lanka, terrorism linked to ISIL, and aftermath of the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings|
Sainthamaruthu shootout (Sri Lanka)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|1 civilian killed|
Following the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings, the Sri Lankan government initiated an operation to locate suspected ISIL-loyal National Thowheeth Jama'ath terrorists. Special Task Force received a tip from a traffic police officer about a house in Sainthamaruthu with a group of suspicious people. The Special Task Force went onto raid the house under suspicion. The ISIL-aligned Amaq News Agency later claimed that the National Thowheeth Jama'ath militants of Sainthamaruthu had prepared an ambush at the house, and had voluntarily lured the security forces into attacking them.
When the Special Task Force tried to enter the house shots were fired from inside. The security forces exchanged fire with those inside the house for about an hour. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up killing 9 people, while police confirmed three other suspects were killed in the engagement.
Those killed in the raid were identified as Zahran Hashim's father Mohamed Hashim and his brothers Zainee and Rilwan, with Rilwan being one of the suicide bombers. The Amaq News Agency released a statement claiming that the militants at Sainthamaruthu had been loyal to ISIL, and that they had managed to kill 17 Sri Lankan security forces. It also published a photo of Zahran alongside his brother Rilwan. The family released a final video message before being killed, which suggested that they had indeed been linked to ISIL.
Fifteen bodies were initially recovered from the site of the clash. Security troops also recovered explosives, detonators, gelignite sticks, acid bottles, detonating cords, ISIL flags, suicide kits and military uniforms. A woman and a child injured at a nearby house during the explosions were taken to the hospital and received police custody, suspected to be the wife and daughter of Zahran.
The bodies of 10 adults were buried without religious rites on 2 May but the 6 children were buried with Islamic funeral rites. However the bodies were exhumed on June to collect DNA samples as the previous samples were too contaminated.
The Sri Lankan Police awarded රු.500,000 ($3280) to the police officer who tipped off the Special Task Force about the safe house in Sainthamaruthu. Three Muslim citizens in the area who tipped off the police about the suspects will be given රු.1 million ($6560) each.
- "Terrorists in Sri Lanka swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi | FDD's Long War Journal". www.longwarjournal.org. April 23, 2019.
- "Sri Lanka: IS claims responsibility for attacks in Kalmunai". www.aninews.in. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- "Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka bombings: 15 die in blast during raid on suspected hideout".
- "Sri Lanka key suspect's relatives killed". 28 April 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019 – via www.bbc.com.
- "Sri Lanka bans groups behind Easter Sunday terror attacks". The National.
- "Shootout in Sainthamarudu when forces raid suicide vest factory - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 2019-04-26. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
- "Gun battle in Kalmunai: 15 including suicide bomber killed". www.dailymirror.lk. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- Thomas Joscelyn (27 April 2019). "Sri Lankan security forces clash with Islamic State loyalists". Long War Journal. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- "15 killed during police operation in Sri Lanka". 27 April 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019 – via www.rte.ie. Cite journal requires
- "15 killed in raid on radical hideout: Sri Lanka police - World News". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- Bob D'Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk. "Sri Lanka: 16 killed in shootout between police and suspected terrorists". ajc. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- "Sri Lanka extremists warned more attacks would follow in video".
- "Wife, daughter of Sri Lanka bombings mastermind will survive blast:..." 29 April 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
- "15 bodies including children found at blast site in Sainthamaruthu". www.adaderana.lk. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- "15 bodies found from site of shootout and explosions in Saindamaradu;6 Suicide bombers among them". Hiru News. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- "Police Curfew to be in effect until further notice in Kalmunai – Chavalakade and Samanthurai". Hiru News. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
- "Ten terrorists buried without any form of religious observances - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 2019-05-02. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
- "Remains of Zaharan's brothers to be exhumed - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 2019-06-07. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
- "Police officers and informers get cash gifts for exposing terrorist safe house - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2019.