Colombo: Days after the raids by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India which exposed links between the conspirators of the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka and a few Indians, the top military officer of the island nation too confirmed the suspects have international links and even visited Kerala, Bangalore and Kashmir in India.
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army, made the revelation in an exclusive interview with the BBC TV Channel on Thursday.
"They have gone to India, they've gone to Kashmir, Bangalore, they've travelled to Kerala state. Those are the information available with us," Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, who is the chief of the Army, told the BBC.
Senanayake also claimed the terrorists were probably imparting training to like-minded individuals in Kerala and Kashmir, both at the southern and northern extremities of India. When asked how were they involved in these two Indian regions, the Commander said "definitely in some sorts of training or to make some more links towards the other organisations outside the country."
The Lieutenant General also hinted that the serial blasts were probably plotted by external elements.
"By looking at the pattern of operation and the places that leadership has travelled, so there has to be some outside involvement of some leadership or instructions," the Army Commander said.
The Middle East-based global terror outfit Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the recent Sri Lankan terror attacks that killed around 300 people in churches and hotels in Colombo and elsewhere.
The NIA has obtained evidence that Riyaz Aboobacker, who was arrested from Kerala's Palakkad, was interested in the speeches of Zahran Hashim, the main conspirator of the Sri Lankan blasts and the leader of the National Thowheed Jamath. Riyaz had also shared these speeches on social media and NIA reportedly has evidence on this.
The NIA officials have also found that the persons in its custody had links with the IS recruitment that took place in Kerala's Kasaragod.
Sri Lankan media too had reported earlier that Hashim had visited Kerala on several occasions.
The renowned Sri Lankan English daily, ‘Daily Mirror’ had reported soon after the blasts on April 21 that Islamic fanatic Hashim made routine trips to Kerala and Tamil Nadu states of India. He had come to Panayikkulam, near Aluva, and to Malappuram – both in Kerala – where he reportedly made incendiary speeches, the daily reported.
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant General admitted that there was indeed lapses on the part of his country's administration as it couldn't avoid the blasts despite receiving alerts from the Indian intelligence services.
"We had some information and intelligence-sharing, situations and military intelligence on a different direction and the others were different and there was a gap that everybody could see today," Commander Senanayake stated.
"This is not a blame game as such, but as the Chief of the Army, I believe that everybody who is responsible for intelligence-gathering and preparation of these plans who are responsible for the national security are to be blamed, including the political hierarchies as well," he replied when the BBC reporter asked who should be blamed for this oversight.
The interview has been posted on the official website of the Sri Lankan Army.