Sri Lankan PM Says India Shared Intel, Admits to Security Lapse
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe admitted that India had shared intelligence warnings about the attacks in the country but there was a security lapse in the handling of the situation.
In a conversation with NDTV, Wickremesinghe said, “Information was received but certainly couldn’t be conveyed down the line and that’s what we are looking into,” adding that the “priority is to apprehend the terrorists”.
He also mentioned that the Sri Lanka intelligence was getting assistance from other countries including China and Pakistan to probe the strike.
Catch all the live updates on Sri Lanka blasts here.
The Islamic State on Tuesday, 22 April, claimed responsibility for the devastating Easter blasts which claimed the lives of at least 359 people and injured nearly 500 others. However, no evidence of the involvement was provided by the group.
Wickremesinghe told NDTV that “so far it [responsibility] has been a group confined to Sri Lankan citizens but with foreign connections. That is why we have asked the assistance of some other foreign agencies also to trace the overseas link.”
Was the Attack in Retaliation to The New Zealand Attack?
Responding to a statement by Sri Lanka’s state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene that the attack was “in revenge” for the Christchurch shooting, Wickremesinghe responded in the affirmative but also added that the “planning took place before the Christchurch attack.”
He also refused that the attacks have “frayed communal harmony” in the island nation. However he added that “some tension was natural in situation like this”.
India Sent Multiple Alerts to Sri Lanka: Report
While Wickremesinghe has acknowledged that India had sent intel to Sri Lanka, according to a report in Hindustan Times India had sent multiple warnings to Sri Lanka with the first alert on 4 April stating that the Indian High Commission in Colombo could be targeted.
According to the daily, Indian intelligence alerted Sri Lanka after the NIA stumbled upon a video of National Thowheed Jama’at (NTJ) leader Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim in 2018. Sri Lankan authorities have also blamed the local extremist group for the attack.
The second alert was reportedly sent a day before the attack with more specific information about the possible targets.
According to a Reuters report, another alert was sent to Sri Lanka, two hours before the suicide bombers struck the country.
The Easter bombings have been described as the deadliest incident of violence in the island nation since the civil war ended a decade ago.
(With inputs from NDTV, Hindustan Times and Reuters)