15 killed in raid on militant hideout, says Sri Lankan police

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At least 15 people, including six children, were killed when suicide bombers blew themselves up when cornered by security forces in eastern Sri Lanka, police said on Saturday.

Three men set off explosives killing three other women and six children inside what was believed to a militant safe house near the town of Kalmunai on Friday night, police said.

“Three other men, also believed to be suicide bombers, were found dead outside the house,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said in a statement.

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Gunasekara gave the figures early Saturday after a gunfight between soldiers and the suspected militants near Sammanthurai.

The gunbattle began on Friday night after police tipped off soldiers to a suspected safe house, in a built up area of Kalmunai, 370 kilometers (230 miles) east of the capital, where authorities say the militants set off three explosions and opened fire.

Maj. Gen. Aruna Jayasekara, the local military commander, said on Saturday that at least three people were wounded in the gunbattle that saw at least three explosions.

The militants opened fire on troops when they attempted to storm the house under cover of darkness, military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said adding that a civilian had got caught in the crossfire and died.

There were no casualties among the security forces, the police said.

The clashes came hours after the security forces raided a nearby location where they believe Islamist radicals recorded a video pledge to ISIS extremist group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out the deadly Easter bombings.

Police said they found an ISIS flag and uniforms similar to those worn by the eight fighters for the video before they launched Sunday's attacks against three luxury hotels and three churches, killing 253.

“We have found the backdrop the group used to record their video,” the police said in an earlier statement on Friday night.

The ISIS group had released the video two days after the attack.

Police showed the clothing and the flag on national television, as well as some 150 sticks of dynamite and about 100,000 ball bearings seized from the house.

Security forces armed with emergency powers have stepped up search operations for Islamic extremists responsible for the bombings.

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