Sri Lanka to restructure police, security force leadership: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said he will restructure the police and military over the next week after a series of bombings by an Islamist terror group left over 300 people dead.

"I will fully reorganize the police and the tri-forces over the next week," the president said in Sinhala during a televised statement.

"I hope to make changes in the leadership of the security forces over the next 24 hours."

"I will also fully restructure police and military intelligence units."

He said security forces and the National Security Council were aware of the perpertrators and their training abroad, but there was not enough evidence to bring them before a court of law.

President Sirisena said that intelligence units had notified top security authorities of the impending attacks, but he was not informed.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who Sirisena is at loggerheads with, and the State Minister for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene also had said that they were not informed of any threats.

Harin Fernando, a minister, said he had been aware of the attacks beforehand, while Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando said he did not expect the bombings to be so bad.

Ministers said the National Security Council had refused to convene on Wickremesinghe’s request, while President Sirisena was on a visit to Singapore.

Sirisena criticized the actions of the top security officials.





"The relevant authorities did not inform me," he said. "If I was informed, I could have taken steps.They did not fulfill their duties."

President Sirisena however praised police and military officials who were responding to the bombings, diffusing unexploded bombs, and apprehending suspects.

Security forces are still on the hunt for bombers on the run, Wickremesinghe said.

Around 320 people, including around 40 foreigners were killed in eight explosions on Easter Sunday, while over 500 were injured.

National Thowfeeth Jama’at, a local radicalized group, had carried out the attacks while IS had claimed responsibility.

Wijewardene said the bombings were retaliation for attacks on mosques in New Zealand.

Police had arrested over 40 suspects.

Meanwhile, President Sirisena assured that the current state of emergency is only to combat terrorism and will not hurt democracy or the freedom of people. (Colombo/Apr23/2019-SB)

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