An extremist leader considered a central figure in Sri Lanka’s Easter suicide bombings died in the attacks, the president said Friday as the police chief became the latest figure to quit over the failure to prevent the massacre.
With the country still on edge, heavy security was put in place for Friday prayers at mosques, but authorities revised down the bombings’ toll to 253 dead from 359, saying some badly mutilated bodies had been counted twice.
President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters that local extremist Zahran Hashim, believed to be a key player in the attacks, died in one of the blasts at three packed churches and three luxury hotels used by foreign tourists.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” he said.
He said Hashim led the attack against the hotel and was accompanied by a second bomber, who has been identified as Ilham Ibrahim.
Authorities had been on a desperate hunt for Hashim after the government named his group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath as perpetrators of the attack.