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Suicide bombing intelligence row stokes political tension in Sri Lanka

Wednesday 24/April/2019 - 09:14 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by: Mohamed Emad

(Reuters) - Political tension mounted in Sri Lanka on Wednesday over the handling of advance intelligence related to Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings، with an ally of the prime minister charging that top officials deliberately withheld critical information.

The attacks on churches and luxury hotels، which killed at least 359 people and wounded about 500، appear to have rekindled a feud between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena.

Critics said government infighting could undermine the authorities’ response to the security crisis and the threat of Islamist extremism now facing an island state that had been relatively peaceful since a civil war ended a decade ago.

“How do you deal with this? The president and the prime minister are part of the same government، and they are blaming each other،” said Keheliya Rambukwella، lawmaker and spokesman for former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s opposition party.

“You would normally expect the opposition to be playing the blame game. But we don’t need to، they are busy attacking each other، we are in fact saying please get together and sort it out، so the country can unitedly face the challenge.”

Sri Lankan intelligence officials were tipped off about an imminent attack by Islamist militants hours before the suicide bombings at three churches and four hotels، three sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week.

An Indian government source said similar messages had been given to Sri Lankan intelligence agents on April 4 and April 20.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on Tuesday.

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