CID Officer tells Easter Attacks PCoI: NTJ maintained eight safe houses in East
By Buddhika Samaraweera
The National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) had maintained eight safe houses in the Eastern Province, in which a large quantity of explosives was stored, to carry out a second wave of attacks in August 2019.
This was revealed on 27 October when an Officer attached to the CID testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the bombings on Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019.
According to him, Mohamed Azam Mohamed Mubarak and Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hastun, who bombed the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya on 21 April, had purchased nine backpacks and eight shawls on 11 April 2019.
He also submitted the CCTV footage and bills regarding the purchasing of those items from shops in Colombo.
According to him, they had bought backpacks from a shop in Battaramulla, while some shawls had been purchased from a shop in Colombo 14.
He further said investigations conducted by the CID had found the suicide bombers had stayed in a safe house in Panadura, before the bombings. The CID also found empty polythene bags, number plates, a bill issued from a car park in Negombo and several empty chemical cans from that safe house, he added.
Furthermore, the NTJ used a lorry from a cab service to transport their goods from Panadura to Kalmunai on 20 April 2019, the day before the bombings. He also said another safe house belonging to the NTJ Leader Zaharan Hashim-led group was found in Kalmunai with assistance from the lorry driver, he said.
Meanwhile, the owner of the safe house at Paraththa Road in Panadura, where the Zaharan-led group stayed before the bombings, testified before the Commission on 27 October.
When questioned by members of the Commission as to who came to rent the house, the witness said a man named Mohamed Azam Mohamed Mubarak had come and discussed the matter. A photograph of Mubarak was shown to the witness and he identified it.
On 2 February 2019, two persons had signed an agreement to rent the house and a sum of Rs 480,000 was paid as key money for one year.