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Maithripala Sirisena forms five-member committee to probe Sri Lankan Easter Sunday bombings

According to an extraordinary gazette notification on Saturday, the committee would comprise two appeal court judges, two retired high court judges and a retired administrator.

By: PTI | Colombo | Published: September 22, 2019 1:47:49 pm
Priests are seen in the background as a security personnel stands guard in front of St Anthony’s Shrine, days after a string of suicide bomb attacks across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 29, 2019. (REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a five-member committee to investigate allegations of intelligence inputs being ignored and related errors that led to the Easter Sunday bombings, killing over 258 people.

According to an extraordinary gazette notification on Saturday, the committee would comprise two appeal court judges, two retired high court judges and a retired administrator.

The panel will investigate allegations of disregarding of prior intelligence inputs on the Easter attacks and related errors which stopped authorities from taking preventive action.

On April 21, nine suicide bombers carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many high-end hotels in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, killing 258 people.

The Islamic State claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ) for the bombings.

The new five-member committee was constituted following local Catholic church Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s demand for an independent investigation.

Earlier, Sirisena had appointed a three-member panel to probe the attacks that led to the sacking and the arrest of the then police chief Pujith Jayasundera and top defense ministry official Hemasiri Fernando.

Sirisena initially resisted a parliamentary probe and slammed its suggestion as an attempt to pin blame on him for the attacks.

The constitution of the latest panel is being seen as a move to appease the Catholic minorities ahead of the November 16 presidential election.

It is not yet clear if Sirisena will contest the elections.

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