Sri Lanka on Monday accused a local Islamist extremist group, the National Thowheed Jamaath, of being behind a string of Easter bombings against churches and hotels that killed at least 290 people.
Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the group, whose name roughly translates as National Monotheism Organization, perpetrated the attack using suicide bombers against three churches and three hotels. He added that a foreign network was probably involved.
“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” Senaratne said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”
He also called for the police inspector general, Pujith Jayasundara, to resign because security agencies had received a report warning of attacks by this group against churches and hotels weeks before.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said he would seek “international assistance” in the investigation of the serial blasts.
Intelligence agencies have reported that “international organizations” were behind these “acts of local terrorists,” said a statement from his office. The statement also said the government would implement anti-terrorism measures that give additional powers to police, effective at midnight.
Attention is now focusing on why and how the government and security forces were unable to foil the coordinated bombings. Two officials provided The Post with the three-page intelligence report that the health minister alluded to, in which a senior police official warned of potential suicide attacks by the same Islamist extremist group.
The report also identified several members by name, including its alleged leader, Mohamed Zaharan. Mujibur Rahman, a member of Sri Lanka’s Parliament who was briefed on the report, said it was based on input from Indian intelligence agencies.
Source: Washington Post
BDST: 1932 HRS, APR 22, 2019