Sri Lankan officials knew about terror plot but didn't act in time

29 Avril, 2019, 12:41 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Sri Lankan officials knew about terror plot but didn't act in time

Forty suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers, were arrested in connection with the multiple attacks.

Sri Lanka's military said the gunfire and later suicide blasts killed 15 people, including six children.

In the following days, the country unleashed a sweeping crackdown on potential suspects in the attacks, arresting over 70 people all over the country and facing off with militants in anti-terrorist raids.

Sri Lankan authorities are also hunting for around 140 followers of the jihadist group Islamic State, which has said it was involved in the bombings, but has not given details.

National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim, the mastermind behind the attacks, was killed inside the Shangri La hotel were he detonated himself.

Their political rivalry and government dysfunction are blamed for a failure to act upon near-specific information received from foreign intelligence agencies that preceded the bombings targeting three churches and three luxury hotels.

"What happened last Sunday is a great tragedy, an insult to humanity", he added.

On Saturday, President Maithripala Sirisena formally outlawed two Islamist extremist groups suspected of carrying out the Easter attacks. "If they (the authorities) are honest, they must have a thorough investigation", he said.

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"We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division", he said.

The government, crippled from a long political crisis between the president and prime minister past year, promised swift action to capture militants still at large.

Many lit candles and placed them in a makeshift memorial for the victims. "Some have died", Wickremesinghe said in a statement. Police said Hashim's young daughter also survived.

Police said they had arrested 48 suspects over the last 24 hours as checkpoints mounted by all of Sri Lanka's security forces sprung up across this country of 21 million people.

IS, which claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings, said the three men who blew themselves up at Kalmunai were its members. She said Zahran's extremist views had opened a rift between her and her brother.

Presidential spokesman Dharmasri Ekanayake said the ban, issued by decree under emergency powers, would allow the government to confiscate any property belonging to the two organisations. Most Sri Lankan Muslims practice a liberal form of the religion, with only a small percentage of women wearing a full face veil known as niqab.

With the burqa ban, Sri Lanka joins the group of nations in Asia, Africa, and Europe that have done so in the interest of preventing terrorists from using the burqa to evade police or hide explosives. The raid took place in the eastern town of Kattankudy, just a day after President Sirisena outlawed NTJ and another group, Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim, under new emergency laws.

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