SAINTHAMARUTHU, Sri Lanka (CNN) — Ten civilians — including six children — are dead, along with six suspected terrorists, after a shootout between police and alleged militants in eastern Sri Lanka late Friday night, authorities said Saturday.
At least two suspected terrorists are on the run following an explosion that witnesses told CNN turned the house “into fire.”
At daybreak, a gruesome scene was revealed at the raided house in the town of Sainthamaruthu on the country’s eastern coast — charred bodies and the roof entirely blown off during three explosions.
Among those killed is one woman who was passing on a rickshaw at the time of the raid. Police are investigating the possible relationship of the civilians to the suspected terrorists.
Earlier on Friday, authorities seized a large cache of explosives, 100,000 ball bearings and ISIS uniforms and flags from a separate garage a few miles from the shootout.
The raids come on the back of a major hunt for the perpetrators of the coordinated attacks on Easter Sunday, which killed 253 people including many worshipers attending Easter Mass services.
National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ), a local extremist group, has been blamed for the bombings, but has not claimed the attacks. ISIS claimed responsibility, but a link between the attackers and the terror group has not been proven.