Wanted Radical Cleric Zahran Hashim Died In Hotel Attack: Lanka President


    Colombo, Sri Lanka: 

    An Islamic extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, the country’s president confirmed Friday.

    “What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group.

    Hashim appeared in a video released by the ISIS group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts were not immediately clear.

    Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim’s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.

    Security forces had been on a desperate hunt for Hashim, believed to be around 40, after the government named the group he led — the National Thowheeth Jama’ath — as its prime suspect.

    His appearance in the ISIS video, where he is seen leading a group of seven others in a pledge of allegiance to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, only heightened fears about the radical.

    He was a relative unknown before the attacks, though local Muslim leaders say they had reported him on more than one occasion to authorities for his extremist views and behaviour.

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