Updated April 1st, 2024 at 19:13 IST

2019 Easter Bombings: Sri Lankan Government Urged to Disclose Details of Indian Intel Warnings

Opposition leader Premadasa claimed that Indian intelligence services had given ‘clear details’ about the Easter attacks to their counterparts in Sri Lanka.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Sajith Premadasa, leader of opposition in Sri Lanka. | Image:AP
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Colombo: Sajith Premadasa, leader of the opposition in Sri Lanka, called on the Ranil Wickremesinghe government to disclose details of the warnings given by Indian intelligence services ahead of the 2019 Easter bombings which left 270 people dead. The bombings, carried out by the National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ), a local jihadi group, targeted churches and Colombo star-class hotels.

“Tell us how many times Indian intelligence warned on the attacks, which were the dates when the information was provided? Who had deleted the WhatsApp messages sent by the Indian intelligence counterpart agencies to local intelligence,” Premadasa asked.

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Premadasa claimed in Parliament that Indian intelligence services had given ‘clear details’ about the attack to their counterparts in Sri Lanka. 

“I asked the government how many probes were carried out and what were their recommendations,” Premadasa said, accusing local intelligence officials of having links with some of the suicide bombers. 

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Moreover, Premadasa accused ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of using the Easter Sunday bombings for electoral gains in the past. He went on to say that while Gotabaya had pledged to probe the attack, he had instead transferred 31 officials involved with the investigation.  

The attack and the conspiracy theories that followed 

Nine suicide bombers belonging to the local Islamist extremist group NTJ linked to ISIS carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three Catholic churches and as many luxury hotels on April 21, 2019, killing nearly 270 people, including 11 Indians, and injuring over 500.

The attacks led to a significant political change in Sri Lanka. It emerged that the then authorities had ignored prior intelligence on the attack by Indian intelligence agencies.

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However, the timing of the bombing ahead of the 2019 presidential election was the subject of conspiracy theories which suggested that the Rajapaksa brothers then in opposition had taken political advantage of the attacks.

Sirisena, 72, who had denied any knowledge of the attacks, was the president at the time of the attack.

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Sirisena was accused and found guilty in a special presidential panel he appointed as the country’s president. The findings blamed him for inaction on the prior intelligence received on the attacks.

Later, he was ordered to pay Sri Lankan Rs 100 million to the relatives of the victims of the attack as compensation. He has so far paid only a part of it.

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With inputs from PTI.    

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Published April 1st, 2024 at 19:13 IST