‘No proof that Easter bombers visited India’: Sri Lanka president
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday he had not received any report from the country’s security agencies that the suicide bombers behind the Easter Sunday attacks had travelled to India.
“I have not received any reports which say that they have travelled to India. My officers have not reported any connection to India up to now,” Sirisena told a news conference at which he spoke in Sinhala.
His remarks were in contrast to comments by the Sri Lanka Army chief, Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake, during an interview with BBC earlier this month. Senanayake said some bombers responsible for the attacks that killed more than 250 people had travelled to Kashmir, Kerala and Bengaluru either for training or to establish links with other organisations.
Sirisena, who was in Delhi for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in along with other leaders from member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), said he was not informed by Sri Lanka’s defence chiefs about an alert sent by Indian intelligence agencies more than a fortnight before the April 21 bombings.
Noting that he was in Singapore at the time of the attacks, Sirisena said a “clear report” had been sent on April 4 by Indian intelligence agencies to their Sri Lankan counterparts about a possible attack. Letters and correspondence were exchanged between the defence secretary and inspector general of police on this issue, he said.
“I was in Sri Lanka from April 4 to April 16…However, none of the defence chiefs informed me about the receipt of such intelligence. Had I known of this possibility, I would never have left the country…That is why I have taken action to remove the defence secretary and inspector general of police,” he added.
Sirisena said Sri Lanka was supported by India, Britain and the US in investigating the attacks.
“The investigation found that the perpetrators operated under an international organisation. The Sri Lankan terrorists had obtained training in countries where international terrorist groups are operating,” he said. The terrorists were from wealthy families and no evidence had been found so far of them being financed by outside sources, he added.