The bodies of 15 people, including six children, have been discovered at the site of a fierce overnight gun battle on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

A police spokesman on Saturday said three suspected suicide bombers were among the 15 dead in the shootout, which came six days after the killing of 253 people on an Easter Sunday.

The three men set off explosives, also killing three women and six children, inside what was believed to a safe house near the eastern town of Kalmunai on Friday night.

The town is to the south of Batticaloa, site of one of the Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels. One child caught in the crossfire was admitted to hospital.

Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said in a statement that as troops headed towards the safe house, three explosions were triggered and gunfire began.

“Troops retaliated and raided the safe house where a large cache of explosives had been stored,” he said in a statement.

He said the fighters were suspected members of the domestic group, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), which has been blamed for last Sunday’s attacks.

Bomb-making materials, dozens of gelignite sticks and thousands of metal balls were found in a search of a separate house in the same area, the military said.

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