Easter Sunday attacks: Lanka’s failure to act on Indian intel played up in Parliament

Colombo: Sri Lanka's former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday highlighted in Parliament the police's failure to act upon the intelligence provided by India on the impending Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed 270 people, including 11 Indians, in 2019.

Nine suicide bombers, belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat linked to ISIS, carried out a series of blasts that tore through three Catholic churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, killing over 270 people and injuring more than 500 people on April 21, 2019.

Speaking in Parliament, Wickremesinghe said that Harin Fernando, a minister of his government at that time, had informed him after the attacks that Fernando's father had warned his sister not to attend the Easter Sunday mass as there could be trouble on that day.

“When the police did not act on Indian intelligence, would they have acted on Harin Fernando's information,” Wickremesinghe said as he blamed the police for not acting upon the intelligence provided by India on the impending suicide bomb attacks in the island nation.

Last week, head of the Catholic church Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith urged the government to take action against Wickremesinghe for his failure as the then prime minister to prevent the attacks.

The Cardinal said that a presidential inquiry on the attacks initiated by then president Maithripala Sirisena had found him guilty for his failure to prevent the attacks.

Similarly, the inquiry faulted Wickremesinghe for his soft attitude towards the rising Islamic extremism in the island, the Cardinal said.

In a 10-page letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the church reminded that the commission of inquiry had recommended that criminal proceedings be initiated against former president Sirisena for the failure of his responsibilities.

The church stressed that it had been five months since the inquiry report came out, yet no action had been taken against Sirisena.

The church, demanding accountability for the intelligence failure, has expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of seriousness in the investigations to bring culprits to book.

The government denies any lethargy in investigations and says nearly 700 people have been arrested and the due legal procedures are in place.

The blasts targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and a church in the eastern town of Batticaloa when the Easter Sunday mass was in progress on April 21, 2019.

Three explosions were reported from three five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo.


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