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Was kept in the dark, Sri Lanka minister tells panel probing Easter Sunday bombings

Sri Lanka Easter day bombings Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Colombo Aug 06, 2019, 07.18 PM (IST)

A Sri Lankan minister who appeared before a committee probing the Easter Sunday bombing has said that intelligence agencies did not share prior warnings and deliberately kept him in the dark. Three churches and as many hotels were targeted in a coordinated attack on Easter Sunday in April this year, killing more than 250 people.

"I thought the Director of State Intelligence Service keeps us updated with all important information. He decides what I should know. He calls me and gives information that he deemed that I should know. I am saddened by the fact that I was not informed of the attack beforehand and not sharing that information with me. Only after the attack, the SIS director told me that he knew of the imminent attack," said Ruwan Wijewardene, the state minister of defence.

A parliamentary committee is investigating the security and intelligence lapses that led to the April 21 bombings. It has summoned Wijewardene, minister of port and shipping Sagala Rathnayake and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The PM is yet to appear before the panel.

The investigators have told the panel that the suicide bombers who targeted three churches and three hotels drew inspiration from terror group Islamic State.

Sri Lanka's former police chief, Pujith Jayasundara, and former secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Hemasiri Fernando, are currently facing criminal charges over their alleged negligence in failing to prevent the attack.

Wijewardene, meanwhile, said the constitutional crisis after the attacks has increased tension between President Maithripala Sisirsena and the government where he was only a figurehead at the National Security Council (NSC) meetings and was not invited at all after October last year till the attack took place.

Story highlights

A parliamentary committee is investigating the security and intelligence lapses that led to the April 21 bombings