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Sri Lanka failed to arrest Easter bomber despite warnings

An army soldier stands guard at the St.Theresa's church in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Colombo, Sri Lanka May 30, 2019, 11.30 AM (IST)

Sri Lankan authorities failed to arrest the terrorist who led the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 258 people despite mounting evidence against him, the country's top intelligence official said Wednesday.

Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis told a parliamentary probe into security lapses leading to the April 21 suicide bombings that the attacks led by Zahran Hashim could have been avoided if he had been detained.

"He was reported for hate speech. He had come to the attention of the authorities before the attacks," said Mendis.

"Police could have at least detained him for questioning when there were these reports against him."

Official sources said Hashim came to the attention of the authorities following a violent clash with a moderate Muslim group in his village in eastern Sri Lanka two years ago. However, he was not arrested.

The national parliament Wednesday began investigating the circumstances that allowed a known Islamist group to stage the audacious attack targeting three Christian churches and three luxury hotels. 
 

Story highlights

Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis told a parliamentary probe into security lapses leading to the April 21 suicide bombings.