New Delhi: The chief of the Sri Lankan Army has said some of the bombers of the Easter attacks had travelled to India for what seems like training for terror activities. In an interview to BBC World, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said that the Army possessed information with regards to their travel.
“They had gone to India, Kashmir, Bengaluru, Kerala state. Those are the information available with us. Possibly for some sort of training or to make some more links towards the other organisations outside the country,” he said.
His statement comes days after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested a 29-year-old Palakkad resident for allegedly conspiring to commit a terrorist act through Kasargode ISIS module. The arrested has been identified as Riyas A, alias Riyas Aboobacker, alias Abu Dujana, who has reportedly confessed to have been inspired by Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind behind the last Sunday's suicide bombings in Sri Lanka. A special court in Kochi sent him to judicial custody till May 29 later on Tuesday.
He had been following Hashim's speeches/videos for more than a year, and also speeches of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, the agency said.
During interrogation, Riyas further confessed that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. The NIA had raided houses of three suspects in Kerala in connection with a case concerning 15 people who left India to join the militant Islamic State group, a week after bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250.
About the possibility of an involvement of a foreign group, the Commander said by looking at the pattern of operation and the places that the suspects travelled, there has to be some outside involvement of some leadership or instructions.
when asked why the threats were not taken more seriously after receiving information from India, Senanayake said: "We had some information and intelligence-sharing, situations and military intelligence on a different direction and the others were different and there was a gap that everybody could see today."
He said that as the Chief of the Army, he believes that everybody who is responsible for intelligence-gathering and the national security is to be blamed, including the political hierarchies.
Asked why Sri Lanka was targeted, the Commander said: "Too much of freedom, too much of peace for the last 10 years. People forget what happened for 30 years. People are enjoying peace and they neglected security".
He was referring to the three-decade civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ended in 2009 after claiming at least 100,000 lives. "We are deployed on the ground to give confidence to the public and ensure there is no violence or escalation of communal riots in this country. Have trust on the armed forces and the Police of this country who will bring normalcy as soon as possible," the Army chief added.