Sri Lanka's security forces will go door-to-door to hunt down terrorists, the country's president said, as security forces clashed with suspected militants involved in the deadly ISIS-linked Easter Sunday attacks.
President Maithripala Sirisena said in a statement: "Every household in the country will be checked. The lists of permanent residents of every house will be established to ensure no unknown persons could live anywhere."
It comes as Sri Lanka has been rocked by more violence after a gunfight erupted between security forces and
The explosions came amid an intense firefight as security forces raided a suspected bomb factory in the coastal town of Sammanthurai, 321 kilometres from the capital Colombo.
Brigadier Sumith Atapattu confirmed a gunbattle was underway.
According to local report, jihadi uniforms were found along with the death cult's black flag.
About 150 gelignite (dynamite) sticks, batteries and a large number of ball bearings and a drone were also uncovered.
After they entered they then came under fire and there were a series of explosions.
Five suspected jihadis were killed in the battle, and when soldiers went to investigate they were fired upon.
At least 253 people were killed and hundreds more injured when suicide bombers struck three churches and three luxury hotels in the island nation.
Since the bombing, security forces have been conducting raids across Sri Lanka.
They are trying to track down 140 people believed linked to ISIS.
He said there were no fatalities among troops, but the area was still not cleared.
RADICAL LEADER KILLED IN EASTER MASSACRE
An extremist leader at the heart of Sri Lanka's Easter suicide bombings died in the attacks, the country's president said, as security forces guarded mosques for weekly prayers amid fears of reprisal strikes.
Security forces stepped up their searches for Islamists and raided a studio used by them to record a video pledge to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out the deadly Easter attacks.
President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters that Zahran Hashim, head of a local extremist group, was killed at one of the Colombo hotels targeted.
"What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack," he said.
Hashim was accompanied by a second bomber identified as Ilham Ibrahim, Sirisena said.
Authorities had been desperately searching for Hashim after naming his group, National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), as the perpetrators of the attack.
DNA tests are being done on a severed head to conclusively establish that it is of Hashim's, officials said, adding they believe the tests will prove positive.
Hashim, who founded the NTJ, appeared in a video released by the Islamic State group when it claimed the strikes. He is seen leading seven others in a pledge of allegiance to Baghdadi.
SRI LANKA'S PM 'OUT OF THE LOOP'
Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has told the BBC he was "out of the loop" on intelligence warnings ahead of the deadly Easter Sunday massacre.
The country's police chief and top defence ministry official have both resigned.
"If we had any inkling, and we had not taken action, I would have handed in my resignation immediately," he said, adding: "But what do you do when you are out of the loop?," he said.
Heavy security is out on the streets of Sri Lanka's capital after warnings of further attacks by the militant group blamed for the Easter bombing.
At St. Anthony's Church, one of those struck in the attacks Sunday, there were more soldiers than normal Friday.
Shops nearby remained closed. Gration Fernando crossed himself when he looked at the church after walking out of his shop there. Fernando says he, like other Sri Lankans, was worried about further attacks.
He says there's "no security, no safety to go to church." He also says "now children are scared to go to church" as well.
FIRST LOOK AT THE BOMBED CHURCHES
Catholic priests have allowed journalists inside St. Anthony's Church in Sri Lanka for the first time since it was targeted in a series of Islamic State-claimed suicide bombings.
The statues of Jesus and the saints are still speckled with fragments of shrapnel.
The smell of death is everywhere, though the bodies are long gone.
Broken glass littered the sanctuary's damaged pews and blood still stained the floor.
Shoes left by panicked worshippers remained in the darkened church, and broken bottles of holy water and flowers were strewn on the floor.
SUNDAY MASSES CANCELLED
The archbishop of Colombo says there will be no Sunday Masses until further notice after the bombings.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith made the comment during a news conference Friday in the Sri Lankan capital.
Ranjith appealed for financial support to rebuild the lives of affected people and reconstruct the churches targeted in the Islamic State-claimed suicide bombings.
The US Embassy in Sri Lanka has warned people to stay away from places of worship this weekend over concerns about possible further attacks.
Sri Lankan officials say they continue to search for suspects in the bombings.
On Friday, authorities urged Muslims not to hold congregational prayers over fears they might be targeted. However, several mosques did under the protection of security forces.
AUSTRALIA'S WARNING ISSUED
Australia has warned travellers that "terrorists are likely to carry out further attacks in Sri Lanka."
The government updated its travel advice website on Friday to say "attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners."
Australia's threat level remained unchanged, advising travellers to "reconsider your need to travel" to Sri Lanka, one tier below the highest warning of "do not travel."
AUSSIE BOMBER BOTCHED ATTACK
Abdul Latheef Mohamed Jameel, who was educated in Australia and Britain, was the only attacker out of the eight Sri Lankans pledging allegiance to Islamic State who failed to hit his intended target in the series of Easter Sunday attacks.
People who knew him said Jameel, like many of the other bombers, was an educated family man who was radicalised after travelling abroad though an attempt to reach Syria failed in 2014, according to a Sri Lankan intelligence source. The United States' invasion of Iraq was a major turning point in Jameel's views, people who knew him said.
Jameel, 37, was born in Kandy, the sixth child in a tea trading family of seven, according to interviews with three people who knew him well, all of whom declined to be named due to the ongoing police investigation. He was educated at the private Gampola International School in Kandy, a lush hilltown in the centre of the country.
The family's relative wealth allowed him to travel and live abroad. He studied engineering at Kingston University, southwest of London, for a year in 2006, according to two sources close to the family and two European intelligence officials.
He returned to Sri Lanka, where he married and had his first of four children, before moving to Australia for four years in 2009. It was during this time he became radicalised, said those who knew him.