15 killed in police raid on suspected terrorists linked to Sri Lanka bombings

15 killed in police raid on suspected terrorists linked to Sri Lanka bombings
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At least 15 people were killed late Friday during a raid by Sri Lankan authorities at a suspected militant hideout on the country's eastern coast, police said.

The Associated Press reported that suspected terrorists linked to the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka opened fire and set off explosives during the raid in Sainthamaruthu, killing at least 15 people, including six children and six suspected terrorists. Two suspected militants are on the run, according to the outlet. 

Police are probing a possible relationship between the civilians and suspected militants.

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Authorities had taken a large cache of explosives, detonators, “suicide kits,” military uniforms and Islamic State group flags from a garage a few miles from the shootout. 

The raids come amid a hunt for the perpetrators of Sunday's coordinated bombing attacks, which killed 253 people, including many worshipers attending Easter Mass.

Local extremist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) has been blamed for Sunday's bombings but has not claimed responsibility. ISIS claimed the attacks, but authorities have not determined a link between the group and the attackers.

CNN reported Saturday that one of the six suspected terrorists found dead following Friday's shootout has been identified as Mohamed Niyas, a prominent member of the NTJ. According to the outlet, the army had issued an earlier statement identifying Niyas as the brother-in-law of the alleged ringleader behind Sunday's attacks.

The deadly raid came after Catholic leaders announced earlier Friday that Sunday Masses across Sri Lanka have been canceled indefinitely as the country continues to battle security threats.