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25 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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SL officials ‘purposefully’ withheld intel on attacks

RT, Moscow
SL officials ‘purposefully’ withheld intel on attacks

The head of Sri Lanka’s parliament has made damning accusations against senior officials in the government, alleging that they withheld intelligence about impending attacks on churches, hotels and politicians. The death toll in the series of Easter Sunday bombings at Sri Lankan churches and hotels has climbed to 359 with scores still languishing in hospitals. Authorities have made dozens of arrests in the aftermath.

“Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions,” Lakshman Kiriella, leader of the parliament, said yesterday. Kiriella claims that Sri Lankan authorities received a warning from Indian intelligence about possible attacks on April 4, and that this information was shared at a Security Council meeting, chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena, on April 7 but was not shared further. “Somebody is controlling these top intelligence officials,” Kiriella added. “The Security Council is doing politics. We need to investigate into this.”

Meanwhile, former army chief and Minister of Regional Development Sarath Fonseka told parliament that he believed the attacks had been planned for some seven or eight years. A confidential April 11 security memo contained names, addresses, phone numbers and movement patterns of the attackers from the National Thowheeth Jama’ath group suspected of carrying out the spate of attacks. Sri Lankan authorities also knew as far back as January that the group was stockpiling weapons and detonators.

Government minister Rauff Hakeem described it as a “colossal failure on the part of the intelligence services,” as in-fighting between the Sri Lankan president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to have prevented effective action being taken to avert the danger. “If the names of the persons involved were already known, why they were not arrested?” he added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is reported to have informed Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and police chief Pujith Jayasundara to resign from their offices, says Lankan Daily Mirror.

They said the President has conveyed this to the two officials this morning. It was also reported that the defence secretary has met with the President a short while ago at the presidential secretariat.

Sri Lanka’s government also acknowledged “major” lapses over its failure to prevent the horrific Easter attacks, despite prior intelligence warnings.

Recriminations have flown since Islamist suicide bombers blew themselves up in packed churches and luxury hotels on Sunday, in attacks claimed by the Islamic State group, adds AFP

Overnight, security forces using newly granted powers under the country’s state of emergency arrested 18 more suspects in connection with the attack, as the toll rose to 359.

Police have so far arrested 58 people, all Sri Lankans, and security remains heavy, with bomb squads carrying out several controlled explosions of suspect packages yesterday. But the government faces anger over revelations that specific warnings about an attack went ignored.

Sri Lanka’s police chief issued a warning on April 11 that suicide bombings against “prominent churches” by local Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath were possible and alerts had been given by a foreign intelligence agency.

CNN reported that Indian intelligence services had passed on “unusually specific” information in the weeks before the attacks, some of it from an IS suspect in their custody. But that information was not shared with the prime minister or other top ministers, the government says.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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