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1-min read

Sirisena Contradicts Lanka Intelligence Chief's Testimony, Says Not Privy to Easter Attack Warning

In a statement issued on Thursday, mentioning a different date, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said at the over two-hour-long intelligence coordination meeting on April 8 no official ever gave any information o such a terrorist attack.

Updated:May 30, 2019, 7:27 PM IST
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Sirisena Contradicts Lanka Intelligence Chief's Testimony, Says Not Privy to Easter Attack Warning
File photo of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday said he was not privy to an intelligence warning on the Easter suicide bombings, contradicting his intelligence chief's testimony before a parliamentary probe panel on the terror attacks by a local Jihadi group linked to the ISIS.

A parliamentary select committee was appointed to probe the events leading to the April 21 attacks and any lapses by those responsible following reports that India had alerted the Sri Lankan defence establishment on the impending attacks.

Testifying before the committee on Wednesday, Sisira Mendis, a retired senior police official who is now the chief of national intelligence, said that at an intelligence coordination meeting on April 9 discussed the information received on the impending attacks.

He claimed he had written to the Inspector General of Police despite the meeting ignoring the information. "It (the prior information on the attacks) was never a main point for discussion," Mendis told the committee.

"On behalf of the secretary to the ministry of defence, I sent a letter to the Inspector General of Police on this threat. I marked the letter as "eyes only" which is to indicate its importance," he said, adding the letter was dated April 9.

In a statement issued on Thursday, mentioning a different date, Sirisena said at the over two-hour-long intelligence coordination meeting on April 8 no official ever gave any information o such a terrorist attack".

More than 250 people were killed in the coordinated suicide bomb attacks carried out by the local Jihadi group National Thowheed Jammath (NTJ) linked to the ISIS. Mendis told the committee that the defence establishment was focusing on possible ISIS links in the country since 2016.

Police chief Pujith Jayasundera was sent on compulsory leave by Sirisena for alleged responsibility to the failure to prevent the attack. Jayasundera on Wednesday filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court against his "unfair sacking".

The parliamentary probe was boycotted by Sirisena's Freedom Party members and parliamentarians of the leader of the opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The ruling coalition's dominant partner United National Party of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the JVP, the Marxist opposition party, are taking part in the probe.

Wickremesinghe despite taking responsibility to the government's inability to prevent the attacks claimed that he had been excluded from the National Security Council (NSC) meetings since October last year.

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