Published: Tue, April 23, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Killed Australians identified, as Sri Lanka blames little-known group

Killed Australians identified, as Sri Lanka blames little-known group

After the attacks, the government imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew.

Global intelligence agencies had warned that the little-known group, National Thowfeek Jamaath, was planning attacks, but word apparently didn't reach the prime minister's office until after the massacre, exposing the continuing political turmoil in the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government.

One was in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, and the other was near the Colombo district of Dematagoda, where three officers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a device.

The politician estimated there are about 250,000 Sri Lankans - most identify as Tamils - in the GTA. "There are people outside the city's main hospitals, they're still looking for their loved ones".

First investigations have indicated that suicide bombers carried out at least three of the attacks.

US intelligence sources said the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of the Islamic State extremist group, although they were cautious because the group had not claimed responsibility.

Questions are now being raised regarding an alleged warning by the Sri Lankan Foreign Intelligence services prior to the attack, and whether enough was done to prevent it. "Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored", Fernando said.

Investigators are now hunting for clues on whether a local Islamist group named as the chief suspect in the attacks - National Thowheeth Jama'ath - received "international support", said cabinet minister and government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne.

Wickremesinghe, who returned to power in December after president Maithripala Sirisena fired him past year amid government infighting, said authorities had received warnings but "not enough attention had been paid" to them.

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The current Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, came to power in the 2015 election, ousting Mahinda Rajapakse in what was a regime-change operation orchestrated by Washington, with the assistance of Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was installed as prime minister.

Sirisena fired the premier a year ago and installed opposition strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his stead.

Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe past year only to be forced to reinstate him under pressure from the Supreme Court and their relationship is reported to be fraught.

The Sri Lankan government has exploited Sunday's terrorist bombings, which claimed at least 290 lives, to impose a national state of emergency that gives the police and military draconian powers of arrest and detention.

The suicide bombings struck three churches and three luxury hotels on Sunday.

A fourth hotel and a house in a suburb of the capital Colombo were also hit, but it was not immediately clear how those attacks were carried out.

He said that the president had appointed a special committee led by a supreme court judge to investigate what had happened.

Two Saudis were among the 31 foreigners killed in the attack, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Furthermore, a homemade pipe bomb was found on the roadside near Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (HRI) mere hours after the above-mentioned attacks (fortunately, local authorities were able to safely defuse it). "I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children", he said in a statement.

"Targeting the non-Muslim community is something they encourage - they say you have to kill them in the name of religion", Ahamed said in a phone interview from Colombo.

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