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Security forces tried to storm the house late Friday and a one-hour long gun battle ensued before the explosions, a military official said.A civilian was also killed in the crossfire during the raid near the predominantly Muslim town. Police and troops have stepped up searches after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels, which killed at least 253 people and injured 500.

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Kalmunai is in the same region as Kattankudy, the hometown of the jihadist Zahran Hashim, who founded the group accused of staging the attacks. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on April 27, 2019, following a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka (Jewel SAMAD / AFP) Authorities said a series of tip-offs after the arrest of Hashim’s driver, Mohamed Sharif Adam, in Kattankudy led them to the safe house.

Officials said the driver provided information leading to a raid on Friday on a hideout south of Kattankudy, where they believe Hashim and other bombers recorded a video pledging allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out the attacks.

Dozens of foreigners died in the attacks and the government has said it expects the number of overseas tourists to fall by 30 percent this year, at a cost of $1.5 billion in revenues.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the island, which depends on tourism as a cornerstone of its economy, could take up to two years to fully recover.

Sri Lanka’s Catholic leader, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, has said he felt “betrayed” by the government’s failure to act on the warnings.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe apologized on Friday.

Media in Sri Lanka on Saturday aired chilling footage of one of the deadly bombings that took place in the capital of Colombo on Easter Sunday.

The footage shows the moments a suicide bomber detonated his bomb at the Kingsbury Hotel.

Hi Carol, I wish you had got the one of Henry and the buffalo, I think it's difficult on this camera to judge how big the animals are! Daylight has arrived and the sky is starting to show color, pink and yellow.

I was driving hubby mad as I was flicking between this one and watching Celebrity Constellation leaving and he was ready to go home!

“We take collective responsibility and apologise to our fellow citizens for our failure to protect victims of these tragic events,” he wrote on Twitter.

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