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Sri Lankan top officials deliberately withheld intelligence information on Easter attacks, minister tells Parliament

Senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks on Sri Lanka, where a rash of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday killed at least 359 people, the leader of parliament said on Wednesday.

 Sri Lankan top officials deliberately withheld intelligence information on Easter attacks, minister tells Parliament

A series of bomb blasts rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday. Reuters

"Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions," Lakshman Kiriella, who is also minister of public enterprise, told Parliament.

He said information on possible suicide attacks on churches, hotels and politicians were received from Indian intelligence on 4 April and a Security Council meeting was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena on 7 April, but the information was not shared more widely.

"Somebody is controlling these top intelligence officials," the minister said. "The Security Council is doing politics. We need to investigate into this."

Separately, Sarath Fonseka, former army chief and minister of regional development, told parliament he believed the attacks "must have been planned for at least 7-8 years."

Earlier, Sirisena had also said he was not informed about the warnings intelligence officials had received regarding the apparent threat to churches before the deadly blasts.

Sirisena, who is also the defence and law and order minister of Sri Lanka, said on a national televised address that State intelligence agencies did not pass on the information they had received. "If they had done so, I would have taken immediate action. I have decided to take strict action against those who failed in their duty," he was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

Sri Lankan junior defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene, on Wednesday, acknowledged that intelligence inputs not being shared with the president was "a major lapse".

In the same nationwide address, the president said he will initiate a complete rejig of the security forces and the police under his control in the coming days, including key leadership changes in "24 hours". He vowed a major shake-up of the military's top brass in the wake of the deadly Easter suicide bombings, after the government admitted warnings were ignored.

 "The restructuring of the security forces and the police will be completed within a week," he said.
With inputs from Reuters

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2019 13:35:30 IST