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World

AFP
April 26, 2019

Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack: president

World

AFP
Fri, Apr 26, 2019

Colombo: An extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka´s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, the country´s president confirmed Friday.

"What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack," President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group.

Hashim appeared in a video released by the Islamic State group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts were not immediately clear.

Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim´s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.

Security forces had been on a desperate hunt for Hashim, believed to be around 40, after the government named the group he led -- the National Thowheeth Jama´ath -- as its prime suspect.

His appearance in the IS video, where he is seen leading a group of seven others in a pledge of allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, only heightened fears about the radical.

He was a relative unknown before the attacks, though local Muslim leaders say they had reported him on more than one occasion to authorities for his extremist views and behaviour.