Sri Lanka Police Discover Suspected Training Camp for Islamist Extremists

May 5, 2019 Updated: May 5, 2019

KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka—Sri Lankan police on Sunday discovered a 10-acre camp in the eastern town of Kattankudy, where Islamist extremists linked to the deadly Easter attacks are believed to have practiced shooting and bombmaking.

Sri Lanka's training camps allegedly linked to Islamist extremists
A soldier stands guard outside a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist extremists, in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, on May 5, 2019. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

The walled terrain is nestled in a poor residential area on the outskirts of the home town of Zahran Hashim, who is believed to have been a key player in plotting the April 21 attacks. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the church and hotel bombings that killed more than 250 people.

The narrow, sandy plot is dotted with a cinderblock four-story watchtower, as well as mango trees, a chicken coop, and a goat shed.

watchtower is seen at Islamist training camp in Sri Lanka
A watchtower is seen at a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist extremists in Kattankudy, near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, May 5, 2019. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)
training camp allegedly linked to Islamist extremists in Sri Lanka
A police officer stands inside a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist extremists, in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, on May 5, 2019. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

“They wanted to show this place was normal. If someone comes to see, it looks like a farm. But what they were doing is terrorism,” said a senior police officer in the Batticaloa area, asking to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media.

training camp allegedly linked to Islamist extremists in Sri Lanka
Police officers stand outside a room in a watchtower at a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist extremists, in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, on May 5, 2019. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Police found bullet holes in the wall on one side of the grounds, as well as long tubes suspected of holding bombs, the officer said.

Two owners of the plot of land have been arrested, the officer said.

By Alexandra Ulmer and Omar Rajarathnam

RECOMMENDED
TOP VIDEOS