Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena sacked 13 members from his party’s central committee hours after a parliamentary election was concluded on Monday.
The move came after speculations that some senior Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members may attempt to remove Sirisena from the party following the election results on Tuesday, reported Xinhua news agency.
The president has already appointed new members to the central committee to replace those who have been sacked.
The president sent the list of the members removed to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya late on Monday.
The U.S. Embassy in Colombo has advised people to avoid places of worship in Sri Lanka over the coming weekend, citing Sri Lankan reports that additional attacks may occur.
“Continue to remain vigilant and avoid large crowds,” the embassy said Thursday on its official Twitter account.
The warning comes days after a devastating attack on Christian worshipers on Easter Sunday when suicide bombers killed more than 350 people.
Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Hemasriri Fernando quit Thursday in the wake of the bombings, heeding calls from Sri Lanka’s president for his resignation.
President Maithripala Sirisena had called on Fernando as well as the police chief Pujith Jayasundara to step down after he promised in a televised address to take stern action against officials who did not share with him the intelligence alerts that came from India days prior to the bombing of churches and luxury hotels.
As the government faces an outpouring of public anger over the failure to heed the warnings, senior officials admit it has been a “major lapse.”
Fernando said that there had been no failure on his own part, but he resigned to take responsibility for the failures of some institutions he headed, Reuters reported.
Reports say Indian intelligence agencies sent out several warnings to Sri Lanka, and that Indian security agencies had gathered details about Islamic militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ), which is suspected of carrying out the attacks.
The government also faces scrutiny on whether bitter political wrangling between Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe contributed to the failure to act upon warnings about the attacks. Wickremesinghe said that there had been a “breakdown in communication.”
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings. (VOA)