Sri Lankan police chief resigns over bombings

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Apr 26, 2019 / 04:40 pm (CNA).- The Sri Lanka chief of police resigned this week after bombings left dead more than 200 Christians on Easter morning. An official at the defense ministry has also stepped down.

Pujith Jayasundara stepped down April 25, and the announcement was made the following day.

Earlier this week, the country’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, had requested Jayasundara’s resignation, citing mishandled information related to the bombings.

According to CNN, in weeks prior to the attack, Indian intelligence agencies had shared relevant information with Sri Lanka. The data had been extracted from a member of the Islamic State with connections to Zahran Hashim, who is believed to be one of the people behind the attack.

Jayasundra had issued a memo of caution April 11, but government officials said neither the prime minister nor other top administrators were made privy to the information.

“It was a major lapse in the sharing of information,” said Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, according to the Journal.

Cardinal Malcom Ranjith of Colombo said that the Church had also not been given this information, Reuters reported.

“We didn’t know anything. It came as a thunderbolt for us,” he said.

Before 9 am, suicide bombers attacked during Easter Mass at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s in Negombo. Another attack occurred at an evangelical Zion Church in Batticaloa at the same time. Later in the afternoon, a zoo, private resident, and three luxury hotels were also bombed.

Previously, figures stated that 359 people were killed by the attacks, but the number is now considered to be wrong due to distortions of the mangled bodies causing an inaccurate calculation. A correction has been issued and the death toll is an estimated 253.

Funeral Masses were held for the victims of the churches in Negombo and Colombo April 23.

Shortly after the attack, the authorities blamed National Thowheed Jamath, a local Islamist group, but Islamic State issued a video Tuesday taking responsibility for the attack. No proof has been provided that the group is behind the attack.

In the video, Hashim is seen at the center of seven masked men, who are allegedly the suicide bombers. Reportedly, he has posted numerous radical teachings online.

More than70 people have been arrested in correlation to the attack and thousands of soldiers have been deployed for security purposes throughout the island. Nightly curfews and other safety measures have also been put in place.

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