Monday 11 November 2019

Spy leader blamed for failure to stop bombing

Sri Lanka

Memorial: A boy holds a candle during a vigil in Colombo in memory of the victims of the Easter attacks. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters
Memorial: A boy holds a candle during a vigil in Colombo in memory of the victims of the Easter attacks. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Bharatha Mallawarachi

An inquiry into last April's Easter suicide bombings has concluded Sri Lanka's spy chief was primarily responsible for the intelligence failure that led to the deaths of 269 people in the attacks.

The parliamentary committee said Nilantha Jayawardena received information on possible attacks as early as April 4 - 17 days before the suicide bombings took place - but there were delays on his part in sharing the intelligence with other agencies.

Mr Jayawardena's responsibility was compounded having asked higher-level officials nearly a year earlier to bring investigations into the ringleader of the April 21 attacks, Mohamed Zahran, under his sole purview.

Sri Lanka's National Security Council met on April 9, with the defence ministry secretary asking Mr Jayawardena for a briefing on Zahran, to which he responded that he would send a note later, the report said.

"If the matter was discussed, steps may have been taken to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks," it concluded.

Zahran, leader of a local Muslim group, was among the suicide bombers who participated in the attacks on three churches and three hotels. Five of the six attacks took place in and around Colombo, the capital.

A total of seven suicide bombers died in the attacks, while another blew himself up later after his explosives failed in a fourth Colombo hotel.

Irish Independent

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