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Sri Lanka President to Change Defence Heads After Intelligence Tip-off on Attacks Failed to Reach Him

File photo of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.  (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

File photo of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

Sri Lankan Health Minister Rajith Senaratne said it was not clear if the President or the Prime Minister were aware of the report, suggesting that it was unclear what actions, if any, was taken in response to the tip-off.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: April 23, 2019, 10:38 PM IST
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New Delhi: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has announced that he expects to change the heads of defence forces within the next 24 hours citing the failure of the existing leadership to share the intelligence report warning of the recent Sunday attacks in the island nation.

This development by Sirisena comes amid the rift between Sri Lanka's president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe which sparked a crisis last year and came under scrutiny on Monday after a series of deadly bomb blasts rocked the country.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had not been told of the report, dated April 11, that said a foreign intelligence agency had warned of attacks, Health Minister Rajith Senaratne had told reporters.

Senaratne also shared that it was not clear if the president too was aware of the report, suggesting that it was unclear what actions, if any, was taken in response to the tip-off.

The island nation was tipped off by Indian intelligence officers about the Sunday attacks two hours before it happened, Reuters reported.

One Sri Lankan source also told Reuters that a warning was also sent to Sri Lankan authorities by India on Saturday night.

Three churches and four hotels were hit by suicide bombers affiliated to the Islamic State on Sunday morning, killing 321 people and wounding 500, sending shockwaves through an island state that has been relatively peaceful since a civil war ended a decade ago.

The Islamic State on Tuesday released an official claim for the attacks and provided details, naming seven of the executors. It also claimed that "approximately a thousand were killed and wounded". The statement identified the seven attackers as Abu Ubayda, Abu al-Mukhtar, Abu Khalil, Abu Hamza, Abu al-Bara’a, Abu Muhammad, and Abu Abdullah.

The terrorist groups's Amaq News Agency released a 59-second video showing the attackers pledging to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video shows eight men together taking the pledge, led by Zahran Hashim, the suspected "mastermind" of the attacks.


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