SPECIAL REPORT

Who are the NTJ? Tracking the group blamed for Sri Lanka bombings

Jewel Samad, AFP | Soldiers and police stand guard outside a mosque ahead of Friday prayers in Colombo on April 26 following a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.

In Sri Lanka, investigations into Sunday's deadly terror attacks have pinned the blame on a little known extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jamaat (NTJ), which emerged in 2014 in eastern Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that the NTJ's leader, Zahran Hashim, was among the nine suicide bombers who targeted churches and hotels in and around Colombo on Sunday, killing more than 250 people.

FRANCE 24’s reporters Mandakini Gahlot, Alban Alvarez, Thomas Denis and Philomène Remy travelled to the town of Mawanella, east of Colombo, where the NTJ was blamed for defacing a statue of the Buddha last year, prompting outrage in the Buddhist-majority country.

“Even though we were aware of the existence of this group, we had no idea that they could be so dangerous,” said Indiker Kumar of the local Young Buddhist Association. “This is totally unexpected.”

 

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