The pregnant wife of a Sri Lankan suicide bomber detonated a suicide vest when police raided the family’s Colombo home, killing herself, her children, and police officers.
A series of coordinated attacks on hotels and churches devastated Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday leaving at least 250 people dead and hundreds more injured. The Health Ministry revised the death toll from 359 casualties on April 25, blaming it on a calculation error, reported BBC.
A total of nine bombers have been identified by the authorities for carrying out the attacks.
According to reports, two brothers Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, 31, and Imsath (or Inshaf) Ahmed Ibrahim, 33, have been identified as the suspected bombers during the attacks. Inshaf Ibrahim, a copper factory owner, is accused of being the mastermind behind the bomb plot.
The pregnant wife of a Sri Lankan suicide bomber detonated the explosives as police raided the family’s Colombo home, killing herself, her children and three police officers.
The nation’s Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said that when police went to raid the brothers’ home in Dematagoda shortly after the bombings, the pregnant wife of one of the brothers, who was identified as Fatima Ibrahim, detonated a suicide vest she was wearing killing herself, her unborn child, two other young children, and three police officers, reported ABC.
Wijewardene told local media in a press conference on April 24 that one of the brothers is understood to have studied in the UK and then continued on with postgraduate studies in Australia.
“We believe one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and later on did his postgraduate in Australia before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Moreover, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on April 25, “I can confirm that the suicide bomber had been in Australia. They departed in early 2013. That individual had been here on a student and a graduate skilled visa.”
The brothers are thought to be the sons of wealthy, politically connected spice merchant Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim.
“What we can say is some of the suspected bombers, most of them are well-educated and come from maybe middle- or upper-middle-class so are financially independent and their families are quite stable. So that is a worrying fact,” Wijewardene said.
Both were members of the radical Islamic group National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) that has been named by Sri Lankan officials as being behind the bombings.
Ilham Ibrahim had previously express extremist views and was involved in meetings with the local radical Islamic group suspected of being involved in the bombings, reported Newscorp. Meanwhile, his brother Inshaf is known to have more moderate views, was reported “brainwashed” by his brother over many years to become more overtly religious and intolerant, reported the National Post.
Inshaf was married to the daughter of a wealthy jewelry manufacturer and had given donations to local struggling families, reports said.
📷 Screen grabs from CCTV footage shows a suspected bomber (L framed by door) with backpack before he enters St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo pic.twitter.com/GRId5LEwSe
— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 24, 2019
The brother’s father, Mohamed Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader is now being interrogated about the coordinated attacks.
He had previously been recognized by Sri Lanka’s former president for “outstanding service provided to the nation,” according to The New York Times. He was also supported by one political party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, which planned to nominate him to Parliament. However, it did not win enough votes.
Police are continuing to carry out raids as they investigate those responsible for the attacks. So far at least 70 people have been arrested and seven people are wanted in connection with the bombings, reported BBC.
The Epoch Times reporter Melanie Sun and NTD News reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.