Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena smiles during an interview with the Associated Press at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. VOA

Sri Lanka’s president says “99%” of the remaining suspects in the Easter attacks on churches and hotels have been arrested and their explosive materials seized, and it is safe for tourists to return to the Indian Ocean island nation.

“The country is in a safe position right now for tourists,” President Maithripala Sirisena said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Our intelligence divisions have identified how many terrorists are there and 99% of them have been arrested. One or two may have been left and they too will be arrested,” he said.


Sirisena spoke hours after an interim report was submitted by a committee his office formed to examine why Sri Lankan security forces did not heed Indian intelligence information ahead of the attacks that killed more than 250 people.

Sirisena declined to discuss the report but said that “heads of security divisions have failed to take appropriate measures and failed to inform me, too.” The president also said “all” of the suspects’ explosives, weapons, safe houses and training centers had been found in the 16 days since the blasts rocked the island off India’s southern tip.


Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. VOA

Acting police chief C.D. Wickramaratne said in a statement Monday that authorities had also seized improvised explosive devices and hundreds of swords, $140,000 in cash in bank accounts and $40 million in assets including land, houses, vehicles and jewelry connected to the suspects.

Those things weren’t discovered earlier because of “weaknesses” in Sri Lanka’s intelligence divisions, Sirisena said. Officials say the coordinated suicide bombings on Easter morning were carried out by Sri Lankan militants targeting churches full of people and luxury hotels in the capital, Colombo.

Since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended a decade ago, the country has built a vast tourism sector that draws tourists to its beaches, wildlife and ancient temples. The dead included dozens of foreigners. Sirisena was out of the country on a private trip to Singapore on the day of the attacks. Upon his return, he demanded the resignation of his defense secretary and chief of police.

Sirisena said Tuesday that the violence wasn’t a problem specific to Sri Lanka, instead ascribing it to “global terrorism.” He said countries fighting international terrorism had voluntarily sent intelligence experts to the island who are collaborating with local intelligence units. Police say two previously little-known radical Islamist groups — National Towheed Jamaat and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim — conspired in the attacks.

Officials say Zahran Hashim, a vitriolic preacher from the country’s east, may have led the attackers and was one of the nine suicide bombers to die. Two days after the bombings, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility and later released a video of Hashim and other men pledging their loyalty to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Later, al-Baghdad praised the attackers in a video that was his first public appearance in nearly five years.


Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena smiles as he leaves after an interview with the Associated Press at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. VOA

Sirisena’s enmity with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet and a lack of communication between the two leaders is also considered a key factor in the breakdown of intelligence sharing ahead of the attacks.

Sirisena “is a big failure, but others also should have made up for it. The others have also looked at their interest above the country,” said Chandra Jayaratna, a social activist and the former head of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Sirisena, who was health minister under former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, quit that government and teamed up with Wickremesinghe to defeat Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential election.

However, the two leaders fell out and their rivalry became public last October when Sirisena suddenly sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa as prime minister. The crisis brought the country to a standstill for seven weeks and was only resolved after a court ordered Sirisena to reinstate Wickremesinghe. A presidential election is due by the end of the year and both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe are widely expected to run.

ALSO READ: Top 7 US Cities with the Highest Concentration of Personal Cars

Sirisena has previously said the intelligence services were weakened by Wickremesinghe and his ministers who insisted that intelligence and security personnel accused of human rights violations during the civil war be investigated in line with a pledge to the United Nations’ human rights council.

During and immediately after the 26-year conflict between rebels from the ethnic minority Tamil community and the Sinhalese-majority government, intelligence officials were accused of involvement in the abduction, assault and disappearance of critics, journalists and other civilians. Rajapaksa was the country’s leader at the time. (VOA)


Popular

Pixabay

Sports betting has become increasingly popular among the youth in recent times

Sports betting has been around for centuries for the audience to not only watch the sport but to get more deeply involved in the match. It is a fun and often profitable activity for the viewer to win some extra fortune or simply get some extra sweat while watching the game. At first glance, sports betting may look like it's pure luck, but when you indulge deeper into the activity you realize it is more of a calculative and research activity than just pure luck. We must note that yes, luck does play a certain role to some extend but a win is not completely dependent on luck, if you're putting your bets on a certain team you have to make sure to do some research about the players on the team, history of wins and losses of the team and compare the probability of winning and then place bets.

Even though sports betting has existed since the ancient era, it was not until recently that it became increasingly popular among the youth. This happened due to the legalization of the activity and the rise of online sports betting. The technological revolution has expanded the sports betting industry, offering the bettors new markets and ways to bet. The only major difference between online bookmarkers and traditional brick-and-mortar venues of sports betting is that now you can place bets online from your mobile devices, laptops, computers etc.

Keep Reading Show less
File

The government of Assam has recently consented to translate the research-based book by- Shri Salil Gewali titled "Great Minds on India"

It is indeed good news that the book showcasing the wisdom of India in the eyes of Western intellectuals is getting due recognition and appreciation from other states and abroad. After Karnataka and Punjab, the Government of Assam has recently consented to translate the research-based book by Shillong-based author - Shri Salil Gewali titled "Great Minds on India". The Chief Minister of Assam - Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma was amazed to know that so many top western scientists and philosophers have drawn a considerable amount of inspiration from ancient scriptures of India, particularly in the studies of modern physics, linguistic and astronomy. In the recent meeting with the author, the Chief Minister had highly appreciated Gewali's book and promised to read it thoroughly. Gewali's book was also approved for translation in the year 2020 by the former Chief Minister – Shri Sarbananda Sonowal but due to COVID-19, the translation work was delayed.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.

Keep Reading Show less
VOA

Supporters of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics cheer as they mark the start of the 100 days countdown to the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, Oct. 26, 2021

BEIJING — Chinese organizers have confirmed participants in next year's Winter Olympics will be strictly isolated from the general population and could face expulsion for violating COVID-19 restrictions.

Vice mayor and Beijing 2022 organizing committee official Zhang Jiandong told reporters Wednesday that those taking part in the games beginning Feb. 4 must remain in a "closed loop" for training, competing, transport, dining and accommodation.

Keep reading... Show less