Sri Lanka's government yesterday acknowledged "major" lapses over its failure to prevent the horrific Easter terror attacks that killed more than 350 people, despite prior intelligence warnings.
The country's president asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and national police chief, a dramatic internal shake-up after security forces shrugged off intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before the Easter bombings. President Sirisena pledged Tuesday to make "major changes in the leadership of the security forces." "The restructuring of the security forces and the police will be completed within a week," he said.
On Tuesday, security forces using newly granted powers under the country's state of emergency arrested 18 more suspects in connection with the attack, as the toll rose to 359. Police have so far arrested 58 people, all Sri Lankans, and security remains heavy, with bomb squads carrying out several controlled explosions of suspect packages yesterday. But the government faces anger over revelations that specific warnings about an attack went ignored.
On Tuesday, in an address to parliament, Sri Lanka's State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said "weakness" within Sri Lanka's security system had led to the failure to prevent the bombings. "By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack," Wijewardene said.
"However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials." In a live address to the nation late Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he also was kept in the dark on the intelligence about the planned attacks and vowed to "take stern action" against officials who failed to share the information. He also pledged "a complete restructuring" of the security forces.
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