Nine bombers, eight of which have already been identified, are believed to be at the center of the sinister plot to blow up Christian worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka, which resulted in 359 deaths so far. A total of about 60 people have been arrested as police unleashed a wide-ranging crackdown on possible accomplices. Sri Lankan officials have not named the attackers.
According to multiple reports, copper factory owner Inshaf Ahmed Ibrahim and his brother Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim were among the masterminds. There are conflicting reports as to which of the brothers blew himself up during the attacks.
Shattered windows are seen at the family home of a bomber suspect where an explosion occurred during a Special Task Force raid © Reuters
One of the most stomach-churning reports, however, concerns the fate of Fatima Ibrahim, identified in the media as the pregnant wife of one of the two terrorist brothers.
ABC reported, citing Sri Lankan Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, that once police approached their family home in Colombo, the woman detonated a suicide vest, killing herself and her three children. Three police officers reportedly perished in the blast as well.
Reuters has a different version of events, however. Citing a source, the agency said that it was Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, the younger of the two brothers, who detonated a bomb, taking his own life as well as those of his children and his alleged spouse.
The revelation of the bombers' identities has come as a total shock to their community, reeling from the series of attacks together with the rest of the country. The brothers' father, who was arrested during the investigation, is an affluent spice trader, renowned for his contributions to the underprivileged.
Wijewardene has revealed that the majority of the suicide bombers came from well-off backgrounds. Some of them studied abroad.
"They hold degrees. We believe one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and later on did his postgraduate in Australia before coming back to Sri Lanka," the minister said.
The local authorities believe that the attackers had links to the National Thowheed Jamath, a home-grown Islamist group. Reuters reported, citing a family source, that Ilham Ibrahim was a follower of the group and had participated in its gatherings. While National Thowheed Jamath was little known before it was accused of being a driving force behind the massacres, the Sri Lanka government later admitted that it had ignored numerous tip-offs.
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