Sat | Jun 15, 2019

Sri Lanka asks for resignations of top security officials

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 11:04 AM
Officers of Special Task Force search for explosives ahead of mass burials at a burial ground for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president has asked for the resignations of the defence secretary and national police chief, a dramatic internal shake-up after security forces shrugged off intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before Easter bombings that killed over 350 people, the president’s office said Wednesday.

It wasn’t immediately clear who would be replacing them, but President Maithripala Sirisena said during a televised speech Tuesday that he planned to change the head of the defence forces within 24 hours.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which struck Christians worshipping in three churches and people at three luxury hotels.

Authorities remain unsure of its involvement, though many suspect experienced foreign militants were advising, funding or guiding the attackers.

Sri Lanka’s junior defence minister has blamed breakaway members of two obscure local extremist Muslim groups, and said many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-off families.

“Their thinking is that Islam can be the only religion in this country,” Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters.

“They are quite well-educated people,” he said, adding that at least one had a law degree and some may have studied in the UK and Australia.

Leaders have vowed to overhaul the country’s security apparatus after acknowledging that some intelligence units were aware of possible attacks before the Easter bombings.

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