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Sri Lankan President orders fresh probe into 2019 Easter bombings amidst complicity allegations

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Colombo: Sri Lanka's President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has initiated an investigation into the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.

It is aimed at allegations, sparked by a recent British television documentary, that the current head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Suresh Sallay, was complicit in the attacks.

Wickremesinghe announced that he would appoint a retired Supreme Court judge to lead the investigation into these accusations.

The documentary aired on British television included claims by a political insider that accused Suresh Sallay of involvement in the Easter Sunday bombings, which were carried out by Islamist extremists at three churches and three hotels. These attacks resulted in the tragic deaths of 279 people, including 45 foreigners.

In response to these allegations, President Wickremesinghe's office released a statement, stating that his actions reflect a determined effort to uncover the truth and ensure accountability regarding these grave accusations. The findings of this new investigation will be presented to a parliamentary panel for further action, reported AFP.

While the President's announcement signifies a local inquiry, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has called for an independent international investigation.

Accusations of the involvement of local intelligence operatives in the attacks have previously surfaced in Sri Lankan courts, but no prosecutions have taken place. Moreover, various local investigations into the bombings have revealed that authorities failed to act on warnings from an Indian intelligence agency 17 days prior to the attacks, warning of an imminent threat.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also urged an independent investigation with international assistance to uncover the "full circumstances" surrounding the bombings.

The British Channel 4 network, in its documentary, alleged that Sallay was connected to the Easter Sunday bombers and had intentions to destabilise Sri Lanka to facilitate the return to power of the Rajapaksa family.

Two members of the Rajapaksa family have previously served as presidents in Sri Lanka. Sallay, in response to Channel 4's claims, stated that he was not in the country at the time of the bombings. However, his former boss, field marshal Sarath Fonseka, informed parliament that Sallay had travelled using multiple passports.

Following the Easter attacks, Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his intention to enter the political arena to combat Islamist extremists. He went on to win the presidential election held seven months later, appointing Sallay as the head of the SIS.

Gotabaya resigned from the presidency in July of the following year after enduring months of public protests due to a severe economic crisis, marked by food, fuel, and medicine shortages. Wickremesinghe was subsequently elected by parliament to complete the remainder of Gotabaya's term but retained Sallay as the head of intelligence.

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TAGS:Ranil WickremesingheSri Lankan President2019 Easter bombingsSri Lanka 2019 Easter bombings
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