New Delhi: Days after eight serial blasts rocked Sri Lanka’s three cities on Easter Sunday and another ripped through the Pugoda town (40 Km east of Colombo) on Thursday, reports have emerged that a wealthy family living in an upscale area in Colombo were key players in the terror strike.

Reportedly, two brothers, sons of a wealthy spice trader, who used to live in the Mahawela Gardens area are believed to have played a crucial part in the Easter Sunday terror siege in Colombo. The serial suicide attacks have killed as many as 359 people and injured over 500.

The two Muslim brothers were among the suicide bombers, reports say.

The brothers, whose names have not been revealed, were in their late twenties and operated their own “family cell”, an investigation officer said. The pair were key members of the Islamist National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) group which the government has blamed for the attacks, the official added.

WEALTHY BROTHERS RADICALISED 

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the government has blamed the NTJ.

One brother checked into the Cinnamon Grand hotel and the other the Shangri-La on Saturday.

The next morning, at virtually the same time, they went to the hotels’ Easter Sunday breakfast buffets and blew up explosives-laden backpacks, the officer said.

Another bomb tore through a restaurant at the nearby Kingsbury hotel. Minutes before, similar explosions devastated three churches. Investigators said it was not known whether the brothers were in contact with the other bombers.

The whereabouts of the brothers’ parents were unknown. But the blasts had a further impact on the family.

One brother gave false identity details when he checked into the hotel, the investigator said. The other gave a real address which led police commandos to their family home in a commercial area of Colombo.

WIFE AND CHILDREN EXPLODE THEMSELVES

“When the Special Task Force went there to investigate, one brother’s wife set off explosives killing herself and her two children,” the officer said.

“It was a single terror cell operated by one family,” the investigator said.

“They had the cash and the motivation. They operated the cell and it is believed they influenced their extended family.” Three police commandos were killed in the blast, and several extended family members are among those in detention.

Investigations are on to ascertain how they were radicalised and if they were involved with some foreign element and dealt in money or arms.

With PTI inputs