“Troops retaliated and raided the safe house where a large cache of explosives had been stored”
A shootout between troops and suspected Islamist militants erupted on Friday evening in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara, south of the town of Batticaloa, site of one of the Easter Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels.
A police spokesman said three suicide bombers were among the 15 dead.
Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said in a statement that as troops headed towards the safe house three explosions were triggered and gunfire began.
He added: “Troops retaliated and raided the safe house where a large cache of explosives had been stored.”
Cops said on Friday they were trying to track down 140 people they believe have links with ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the bombings.
As details emerged, it was discovered eight Brits had been killed in the deadly explosions.
David Linsey revealed the harrowing moments he learned his younger brother Daniel, 19, and sister Amelie, 15, were among the dead.
He told The Daily Mail: “I was woken by screaming – chaos. My bedroom is in the basement. I went upstairs. My little brother Ethan and my mother were hysterical with grief. My brother told me what had happened. My mother couldn’t speak. He said they were gone.
“I called my father. He was at the hospital. He’d lost his voice. He was clearly very distressed. He had marks all over his face – blood, shrapnel, but he was thinking clearly.
“He told us what had happened and kept saying how sorry he was. It wasn’t his fault but he felt he could have done things differently. They were only going for breakfast.”
David learned Amelie and Daniel were getting their dad a drink from the buffet bar when one of the bombs exploded in the Shangri-La hotel in the capital Colombo.
As they ran towards their dad a second blast went off. It isn’t clear which one killed the pair.
David continued: “You don’t believe it, even when your father says it. You think they might be confused. They might be wrong. You hope.”