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Sri Lanka PM reveals Govt was aware of threat, failed to prevent attack

Crime scene officials inspect the site of a bomb blast inside a church in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

#SRILANKA: Thirteen suspects have been arrested so far out of which 10 have been handed over to the CID in connection with the series of blasts that took place in Sri Lanka on Sunday, 21 April, Sri Lankan media organisation News1st reported quoting the police spokesperson.

The National Towheeth Jamaath, which was named in the April 11 police warning, has been seen as an influence on the over a hundred Sri Lankans who left to join the ISIS some years ago.

Prime Minister reveals government was aware of threat

After a series of blasts rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, 21 April, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said his “government was aware of the information regarding a possible attack but adequate precautions were not taken to prevent it”, reported AFP.

It is being reported that India passed on specific intelligence to Sri Lankan authorities that a terrorist attack was imminent there.

It appears that it was on the basis of this alert that the police chief sent out his April 11 nationwide alert warning of attacks on the Indian high Commission and churches.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Towheeth Jamaath has condemned the attacks on its Facebook page, and demanded the highest punishment to the perpetrators. The group also organised a blood donation drive in Kandy on Sunday, and posted photographs of the event on FB, saying that it wanted to do as much as it could to help the nation at this extraordinary time.

Police officials and catholic priests stand inside the church after a bomb blast in Negombo
Police officials and catholic priests stand inside the church after a bomb blast in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Three Indians are among the 207 people killed in the blasts in Sri Lanka on Sunday, 21 April, said Union Minister Sushma Swaraj in a tweet. According to government sources, at least 450 have been injured in these blasts.

The Sri Lankan government has imposed curfew for the whole island, which will take effect from 6 pm on Sunday to 6 am on Monday, 22 April.

While three high-end hotels and one church were earlier targeted in the capital Colombo, two other churches were attacked in Negombo and Batticaloa.

Nationwide alert was issued

Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”, according to the warning seen by AFP.

Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on 11 April setting out the threat.

“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo,” said the alert.

The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues.

At least 207 people were killed in six bomb attacks on Sunday that targeted three churches and three high-end hotels. Two more blasts have been reported in the island nation.

SNAPSHOT

  • 24 suspects arrested in connection with the blasts
  • No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks
  • Health Minister and the govt spokesperson, Rajitha Senaratne, said that all suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals
  • The churches targeted include St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and another church in Batticaloa
  • The hotels targeted include the Shangri La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury

View related coverage on Sri Lanka’s bombings click here

Sources: News1st | Indian Express | Reuters |PTI


About Indianspice Staff Reporter

Report and write stories for Indianspice.co.za. It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.

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