• Tuesday, May 17, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Sri Lanka president slams intel chief over Easter attacks

  • Published at 09:59 pm May 30th, 2019
Sri Lanka-Maithripala Sirisena
File photo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, centre, delivers a speech during the National War Heroes Day in Colombo on May 19, 2019 AFP

In a statement, Sirisena denied claims by Mendis that the country's highest security body had not met as often as it should have around the time of the attacks blamed on Islamic State-backed militants

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena publicly rebuked his intelligence chief on Thursday after he told a parliamentary panel that the Easter suicide bombings in which 258 people died could have been avoided.

The testimony appeared to put the president in a poor light by implying he had not held National Security Council meetings to review threats such as the attacks carried out by Islamic State. 

Authorities shut down a live broadcast of Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis giving evidence to the parliamentary panel without giving an explanation.

In a statement, Sirisena denied claims by Mendis that the country's highest security body had not met as often as it should have around the time of the attacks blamed on Islamic State-backed militants.

Sirisena, who is also defence minister, said in a statement he held NSC meetings twice a week, contradicting Mendis who told parliament the last meeting was on February 19, more than two months before the April 21 bombings.

Sirisena said he met with the national police chief and his top brass 13 days before the Easter Sunday attacks and no officer raised warnings which had been relayed by India.

Official sources said neighbouring India provided details of planned attacks based on information from a jihadist in Indian custody.

"The precise information provided by a friendly country was never brought to the attention of the president by the secretary to the ministry of defence, the inspector general of police or any other officer," Sirisena's office said in a statement.

Mendis also said security authorities failed to arrest the jihadist, Zahran Hashim, who led the attacks despite mounting evidence against him.

Official sources said Hashim came to the attention of authorities following a clash with a moderate Muslim group in his village in eastern Sri Lanka two years ago.

Parliament on Wednesday began investigating the circumstances leading up to the attack on three churches and three luxury hotels.

Ten days before the attacks, police chief Pujith Jayasundara issued a warning that Hashim's National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) could target prominent churches. But this was not followed up.

The government has admitted there were intelligence failures before the attacks, in which 45 foreign nationals died and nearly 500 people were injured.

Sirisena subsequently suspended Jayasundara and dismissed his top defence official. 

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the attacks, but Sirisena announced on Monday that it will end in a month.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail