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26.04.2019 Europe

Top Security Officials Quit After Sri Lankan Easter Attacks

RFI
World ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA
APR 26, 2019 EUROPE

Two key figures in Sri Lanka's security hierarchy are to resign over the attacks during Easter last week, the Sri Lankan presidency announced.

Sri Lanka's police inspector general quit on Friday following the series of attack last Sunday on the island, President Maithripala Sirisena told the press.

Pujith Jayasundara is the second high-ranking person to resign in the face of the authorities' failure to prevent the carnage. Hemasiri Fernando, a high-level civil servant in the defence ministry also stepped down hours earlier.

Warnings

The French news agency, AFP, reports that India had warned Sri Lanka several times that suicide attacks were likely.

The authorities had received a warning from the police chief two weeks ago, on 11 April, saying that a local jihadist group, NTJ, was preparing attacks.

AFP reports that the information never reached the Prime Minister and other ministers.

President Sirisena is the minister of the interior and the defence minister.

NTJ leader dead

Meanwhile, the leader of a local jihadist group was killed in the attacks said the Sri Lankan presidency.

Zahran Hashim is reported to have died the suicide attack at the Shangri-la Hotel in the capital Colombo.

He was on the police's wanted list as head of the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), which the authorities accuse of having carried out the attacks.

"This is what the intelligence services have told me," said Sirisena.

More than 140 people were still in hospital being treated for the injuries they sustained in the attack, said the Sri Lankan health ministry.

Off the map for a while

Local media says the atmosphere in the country remains tense as the search for the perpetrators continues with assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. 75 people have been arrested since Sunday evening.

A number of countries including Australia, the UK, Israel and The Netherlands have advised their nationals to avoid visiting Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has suspended its plan to introduce some visa exemptions. Last year, 2018, the Indian Ocean island registered a record number of tourists, 2.3 million.

(with AFP)

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