2019 Sri Lanka bombings

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The pregnant wife of one of the accomplices in the spate of brutal bombings in Sri Lankan hotels and churches reportedly blew herself up with her three children as police arrived at her home.

April 25, 2019 - Pregnant Wife of Sri Lanka Bombings Mastermind Blew Herself up, More People Arrested

The pregnant wife of a Sri Lanka bomber detonated a suicide vest when police raided the affluent family's home in the wake of the terror attacks, killing her own children, World News reported.

ABC reported that once police approached their family home in Colombo, the woman detonated a suicide vest, killing herself and her three children. Three police officers reportedly perished in the blast as well.

Citing a source, the Reuters reported that it was Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, the younger of the two brothers, who detonated a bomb, taking his own life as well as those of his children and his alleged spouse.

Sri Lanka's deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told a press conference most of the suicide bombers were well-educated and from wealthy families, adding that some had law degrees, and all were Sri Lankan.

Colombia's Trasandino pipeline bombed for seventh time in 2019
Colombia's Trasandino oil pipeline was bombed late on Friday in western Narino province, spilling crude into a nearby stream, state-run oil company Ecopetrol SA said, the seventh time it has been attacked this year.

Sri Lankan president bans Islamist groups suspected of Easter Sunday bombings

FILE PHOTO - Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena looks on during a special party convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has banned two Islamist groups suspected of being behind the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people, his office said on Saturday.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Sri Lankan police on Sunday discovered a 10-acre camp in the eastern town of Kattankudy, where Islamist militants linked to the deadly Easter attacks are believed to have practiced shooting and bombmaking.

Sri Lanka police discover suspected training camp for Islamist militants
A police officer stands inside a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist militants in Kattankudy, near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A police officer stands inside a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist militants in Kattankudy, near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The walled terrain is nestled in a poor residential area on the outskirts of the home town of Zahran Hashim, who is believed to have been a key player in plotting the April 21 attacks. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the church and hotel bombings that killed more than 250 people.

The narrow, sandy plot is dotted with a cinderblock four-storey watchtower, as well as mango trees, a chicken coop and a goat shed.

“They wanted to show this place was normal. If someone comes to see, it looks like a farm. But what they were doing is terrorism,” said a senior police officer in the Batticaloa area, asking to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Police found bullet holes in the wall on one side of the grounds, as well as long tubes suspected of holding bombs, the officer said.

Two owners of the plot of land have been arrested, the officer said.

Sri Lanka imposes curfew in Negombo after clashes, bans social media
The Sri Lankan government has reimposed a ban on social media platforms in an effort to stop the spread of rumors after violence erupted between groups of civilians in Negombo, north of the capital and site of one of the Easter Sunday bombings.

Deserted beaches, empty rooms: Sri Lanka tourism takes a hit after bombings
A tourist rests on a beach near hotels in a tourist area in Bentota, Sri Lanka May 2, 2019. Picture take May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Sri Lanka's $4.4 billion tourism industry is reeling from cancellations as travelers shun the sun and sand Indian Ocean island after multiple suicide bombings that killed over 250 people two weeks ago.

'Save us from the Satans': Survivors of Sri Lanka church attack pray
Members of Zion Church, which was bombed on Easter Sunday, pray at a community hall in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A dozen rifle-toting soldiers guarded a small community hall as day broke in the eastern Sri Lankan town of Batticaloa on Sunday morning.

In wake of deadly attacks, Sri Lanka president vows stability before vote
Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said on Saturday the security forces would "eradicate terrorism" following devastating suicide attacks on Easter Sunday and restore stability before a presidential election due by year-end.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
May 1, 2019 / Link for Recording:
Retired Major General Kapila Hendawitharana, a former Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) who had been dismissed by Army Commander Sarath Fonseka as an unqualified “logistics man” was promoted to Major General by Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2006, and brought back to the high post of Chief of National Intelligence, and given very broad oversight powers over all of Sri Lanka’s intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies.


Kapila Hendawitharana

Hendawitharana and the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence are suspects in the several white van abductions of journalists, the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda and the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, all of what were done by the Military Intelligence under their command, according to the CID.

After being removed from office in January 2015, Hendawitharana was immediately given employment as head of security for the Shangri-La Hotels in Sri Lanka, where he works to this day for a high salary. This was after Rajapaksa and his defence ministry were implicated in the land deal for the Shangri-La.

After the ruthless terrorist bombings on April 21, including at the Shangri-La in Colombo, many countries including the Americans send specialists to Sri Lanka to assist forces in crushing this new terrorist threat. American investigators have visited the Shangri-La, where several Americans died, and are trying to help Sri Lanka to fight this threat.

But Colombo Telegraph can exclusively reveal that Hendawitharana, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s right-hand man in the Defence Ministry, is an agent of the Chinese Intelligence. We can today reveal audio recordings of Hendawitharana, who is also the security head of Shangri-La, telling a Chinese Intelligence Officer to use diplomatic means as a “deterrent action” to sabotage the relationship between the US and Sri Lanka.

Hendawitharana is privy to American involvement in Sri Lanka’s new war against terror because of his role in security at Shangri-La, but his concern is not for his employer, in whose hotel so many innocents died, but instead for his handlers in Chinese Intelligence and his political contacts in the Joint Opposition.

In the audio recording
, available exclusively below, Hendawitharana tells his Chinese handler to “appraise your diplomatic channels to work on the US-Sri Lanka relationship.”

“There is some development taking place for which the opposition parties, joint opposition, are making hell of a fit,” he warns. “They want to give Americans free passage for any requirement if the requirement arises for them to occupy Sri Lanka, even making use of the harbours and airports.”

“I am also on the watch,” he promised. “The government will deny. I don’t know the underhand plans of them.”


“Make your diplomatic channels aware of this,” the former intelligence chief tells the Chinese, “and ask them to take it up with the foreign ministry of Sri Lanka in advance as a deterrent action.”

Colombo Telegraph can also exclusively reveal how the Chinese have looked after Hendawitharana. In another recording revealed exclusively here, a Chinese contact explains to him how to provide information necessary for China to make tuition payments for the foreign education of a member of Hendawitharana’s family.

We might never know for how long Sri Lanka’s top spy has been in bed with a foreign power, and whether or not he was taking orders from the Chinese at the time he ran our intelligence services and fostered the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), while other Chinese entities were funding the Rajapaksa family election campaigns.

Now with his boss Gotabaya running for president on a national security platform, we have to consider that these are the kinds of people that he trusts with our most valuable secrets. What role will Gota’s former henchman play in his campaign and government? Will Sri Lanka’s American candidate remove the Chinese spy from his Viyathmaga movement and election campaign? Only time will tell.


News1st FCID questions retired Major General Kapila Hendawitharana
Published on Jun 15, 2017
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island's Muslims.

Latest Sri Lanka arrest throws spotlight on Wahhabism in eastern hotbed
A mosque is seen at Center for Islamic Guidance in Kattankudy in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A mosque is seen at Center for Islamic Guidance in Kattankudy in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with ... Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” said a police statement late on Friday.

The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people.

The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.

Two Muslim community sources in Kattankudy told Reuters his hardline views were partly shaped by ultra-conservative Salafi-Wahhabi texts that he picked up at the Centre for Islamic Guidance’s library around 2-3 years ago. The sources are not affiliated with the center.

“I used to always run into him at the center, reading Saudi journals and literature,” said one of the sources.

During that time, Zahran started criticizing the practice of asking God for help, for instance, arguing that such pleas were an affront to pure Islam.

“That kind of teaching was not in Sri Lanka in 2016, unless you read it in Salafi literature,” the source added, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions in Kattankudy.

Salafism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam that advocates a return to the values of the first three generations of Muslims and is closely linked to Wahhabism, has often been criticized as the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide.

Wahhabi Islam has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is backed by its rulers, although Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed the kingdom to a more moderate form of Islam.

Other than the fact that Zahran visited the center, the sources in Kattankudy said they did not know of any personal ties between him and Aliyar.

Aliyar founded the center in 1990, a year after he graduated from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, in what one resident said marked a key moment in the spread of Salafi doctrine in Kattankudy. The center was partly funded by Saudi and Kuwaiti donors, according to a plaque outside.
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Latest Sri Lanka arrest throws spotlight on Wahhabism in eastern...

Sri Lanka orders DNA test to confirm Easter attack ringleader is dead
FILE PHOTO: Security personnel stand guard in front of St Anthony's Shrine, days after a string of suicide bomb attacks across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

A Sri Lankan court on Friday authorized a DNA test to confirm that the presumed ringleader of coordinated Islamist attacks that killed over 250 people on Easter Sunday in churches and hotels did indeed blow himself up at Colombo's Shangri-La hotel.

The government, which has come under fire for missing multiple warnings that an attack was imminent, believes the ringleader was Zahran Hashim, a fiery 34-year-old preacher from eastern Sri Lanka.

However, half a dozen locals in his hometown of Kattankudy and others who knew him have told Reuters that video surveillance footage taken in a lift before the April 21 attack, showing a man who investigators believe is the bomber, appears to depict a far slimmer man than Hashim, with a different gait.

The clip is short, though, and the man’s face is partially hidden by a cap. Hashim had disappeared from public view several months before the attacks.

Colombo Chief Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake ordered state judiciary medical officials to check the bomber’s remains against his daughter’s DNA. Dissanayake said he was responding to a request by the criminal investigation department.

A top intelligence official told Reuters that facial identification had confirmed that the dead suicide bomber was Zahran.

“But since there is a dispute, we are going for a DNA test,” he said.

Sri Lankan authorities believe the bombings were carried out by two little-known domestic Islamist groups, the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI). Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Investigators from eight countries, including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, are helping with the investigation.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A Sri Lankan software engineer suspected by authorities in Sri Lanka of having provided technical and logistical support to the Easter Sunday suicide bombers was monitored by Indian intelligence agencies three years ago for links with Islamic State suspects, investigators said.

Exclusive: Sri Lankan software engineer, under Indian surveillance, key in Easter attack May 14, 2019
FILE PHOTO: A police officer inspects the explosion area at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A police officer inspects the explosion area at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

Four sources in Sri Lankan investigating agencies said they believed Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, was the link between two groups that carried out the attacks on churches and hotels that killed more than 250 people and wounded hundreds more.

Aadhil has been arrested and is in police custody, the sources said. His arrest has not been made public. Ruwan Gunasekera, the main spokesman for the Sri Lankan police, confirmed Aadhil was taken into custody on April 25, four days after the attacks.

A police official at India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and another police official in the western state of Gujarat said they were providing assistance to Sri Lankan authorities.

Aadhil, who describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a senior engineer/programmer/web designer with a masters degree in computer science and a bachelors in political science from U.K. universities, could not be reached for comment.

He does not yet have a lawyer and under Sri Lanka’s tough new emergency laws imposed after the attacks, he can be held indefinitely.
His father, M. Ameez, who lives in Aluthgama, a town south of Colombo, denied that Aadhil was involved with the plotters and said such “allegations are lies”.

The Indian investigators said they had been monitoring Aadhil since 2016 and named him in two chargesheets filed in Indian courts against suspected Islamic State operatives as being one of their contacts.

According to one of the chargesheets, reviewed by Reuters, he showed up in Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram chats with two of the suspects who are on trial for plotting an attack on a synagogue in the western city of Ahmedabad.

The two suspects Ubed Ahmad Mirza, a lawyer, and Stimberwala Mohamed Kasim, a hospital technician, were accused of planning “lone-wolf” attacks, according to the chargesheet.

Lawyers for both men rejected the allegations and said they were innocent. Both lawyers declined to comment on the possible role of Aadhil.

Aadhil has also been named in another chargesheet filed in court by the NIA for providing propaganda and online material to three Indians arrested in early 2016 for promoting Islamic State.

The three men, Sheikh Azhar ul-Islam, Adnan Hassan and Mohammed Rafiq Sadique Shaikh are on trial in a special Delhi court facing charges of criminal conspiracy to propagate the ideology of Islamic State, recruit, raise funds and facilitate the travel of people to Syria, according to the chargesheet.

Sheikh Mohammad Munawar, a cousin of ul-Islam, said the charges were fabricated and that he had no criminal record ever.

Families of the other two accused could not be reached. Their lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

Reuters was unable to determine when the Indians informed Sri Lankan authorities of the surveillance. The two officials declined to say whether they continued to keep Aadhil under surveillance after they completed investigation of the cases in India.

Indian intelligence services warned Sri Lankan authorities of a possible attack at least three times in April alone, officials have said.

LINK BETWEEN GROUPS
Sri Lankan authorities have said two local Islamist groups - the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) led by radical preacher Zahran Hashim and the Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) - were involved in the synchronized blasts in Colombo, the island nation’s capital, and two other towns. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Two sources in Sri Lanka’s police Criminal Investigation Department and two military officials said Aadhil was the link between the two groups.

The groups used the dark web and WhatsApp to communicate, they said.

However, investigators don’t know yet whether Aadhil was simply a facilitator for the bombers, or if he was also one of the ring leaders involved in planning and executing the attacks.

Last week, police raided IT firm Virtusa, where Aadhil had interned in 2013, according to his profile. One current employee has been detained for questioning in connection with the attacks, police say, but no other details have been provided.

ONLINE CHATS
India, with one of the world’s largest populations of Muslims, has claimed success in foiling several Islamic State cells, mostly in southern and western India.

Court documents reviewed by Reuters show that the online conversations between the Sri Lankan and the two Indians in western India, began in the summer of 2016 and lasted until the arrest of the two Indians in late 2017. The documents describe how Aadhil Ax, as he called himself online, asked the Indians if they had heard about the atrocities being committed against Muslims in Sri Lanka by the majority Buddhist community.

He talked about his own experiences: that he had been in jail, that his house had been torched and that he limped because of beatings, the documents seen by Reuters show. Investigators and neighbors in Sri Lanka say none of these were true.

The Sri Lankan investigators interviewed by Reuters say Aadhil made claims he was a journalist and a PhD candidate in some of his online postings, which also were false.

They said they believed Aadhil, operating largely from his home, was a key part of the Easter bombings plot and helped in communications and training.

“He was the main technology person for them,” said one of the CID sources involved in the investigation. The source said Aadhil was helped in this by Abdul Latheef Mohamed Jameel, one of the eight suicide bombers who detonated his explosives at a guesthouse after failing to do so at Colombo’s luxury Taj Samudra hotel.

About a week before the bombings, Aadhil met Jameel, Zahran the extremist preacher, and Inshaf Ibrahim and Ilham Ibrahim, the two brothers from a family engaged in the spice trade in Colombo, the other sources said. The latter three men blew themselves up in five-star Colombo hotels.

The CID source said that Aadhil, Zahran and the Ibrahim brothers had leased land in Wanathawilluwa town in the north and set up a training camp. Police raided the place in January this year and discovered a large amount of explosives, but did not know at the time who had leased it.

When police raided Aadhil’s home four days after the bombings, all his computer files were found to have been deleted. “He seems to have played an important role in setting up communications for the attackers, helping organize meetings and training camps,” said one of the military sources.
Sri Lanka police arrest 23 for targeting Muslims after Easter bombings
Sri Lankan soldiers patrol a road of Hettipola after a mob attack in a mosque in the nearby village of Kottampitiya, Sri Lanka May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lankan police arrested 23 people on Tuesday in connection with a spate of attacks on Muslim-owned homes and shops in apparent reprisal for the Easter bombings by Islamist militants that killed more than 250 people.

Sri Lanka clashes kill one; imposes nationwide curfew after mosques attacked
A Muslim man stands in front of the Abbraar Masjid mosque after a mob attack in Kiniyama, Sri Lanka May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

One person was killed in Sri Lanka on Monday as police fired tear gas at mobs attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops and imposed a curfew after the worst outbreak of sectarian violence since the Easter bombings by Islamist militants.

Sri Lanka imposes curfew in northwest province after attacks on mosques
Sri Lanka imposed curfew across its northwest province on Monday, a police spokesman said, after attacks on mosques and shops owned by Muslims in the worst outbreak of violence since the Easter bombings on churches and hotels by Islamist militants.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The group calling itself the Islamic State has announced the establishment of a new overseas province in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. The announcement was made over the weekend by Amaq, which serves as the news agency of the Islamic State. According to the news release, the Islamic State (known also as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has named the new province “wilayah al-Hind” (province of Hind), and said it is based in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, which is located in one of the three administrative divisions of the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Amaq report surfaced following an armed clash between a group of Islamist militants and Indian security forces in Amshipora, a village in the district of Shopian, which is in the foothills of the northern Himalayan Mountains. At least one Islamist militant was killed in the armed confrontation, which reportedly lasted two hours. Indian authorities identified the dead militant as Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi, and said he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The Amaq statement alleged that the militants in Amshipora had “inflicted casualties” on the security forces, but the claim was denied by the Indian government. The Reuters news agency spoke with Rita Katz, an Israeli analyst who directs the SITE Intelligence Group in the United States. She said that the announcement of a new Islamic State province “should not be written off”, but added that “the establishment of a province in a region where [the Islamic State] has nothing resembling actual governance is absurd”.

Writing in the Hong-Kong-based Asia Times, Prakash Katoch, a retired lieutenant general in the Indian Army’s Special Forces, said that the announcement of a wilayah in India was a first for the Islamic State. He warned that after announcing a province in Indian Kashmir, the Islamic State “may also attempt to increase its presence in other Indian states” with a significant Muslim presence, such as Kerala or West Bengal. Katoch noted that “a number of young men and women from Kerala” had been identified as having joined the Islamic State in 2016 and 2017. Several of them even traveled to Syria to fight for the Sunni Islamist group, he added.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Weeping Sri Lankan Catholics lit candles and prayed in a memorial service outside a bombed church on Tuesday, one month after Easter bombings by Islamist militants killed more than 250 people.

In tearful ceremony, Sri Lanka Catholics mark one month since bombings
Devotees cry in front of St Anthony's church, one of the churches attacked in the April 21st Easter Sunday Islamic militant bombings, during the first-month remembrance service, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Hundreds of worshippers, including survivors and relatives of the victims, gathered outside St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Catholic church in the capital, Colombo, for the ceremony.

The navy is repairing the white-painted church, which is covered in scaffolding, and police with sniffer dogs patrolled the area.

Some Christian schools also re-opened on Tuesday amid tight security. The city’s archbishop had complained about insufficient security around churches, and many parents have kept their children at home for fears of renewed attacks.

Authorities say the threat of more Islamist militant attacks has been contained and that security services have dismantled most of the network linked to the Easter Sunday bombings.


China trip and son's wedding: Sri Lanka leader denounced after Easter bombings
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena walks inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Pool

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena walks inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Pool

After coming under fire for not acting on warnings about Easter bombings that killed more than 250 people, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is now facing criticism over his leadership in the aftermath of the Islamist attacks.

Going ahead with his son’s wedding on May 9 also struck some as an affront to families still in mourning after the April 21 bombings, claimed by Islamic State, which struck churches and hotels.

That leaves Sirisena in a weak position ahead of this year’s presidential election, voters and analysts say, potentially paving the way for former wartime defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take over.

Sirisena’s allies say he did the best he could in a volatile situation, citing measures like temporarily shutting down social media and deploying the army to stem violence in the multi-ethnic, Buddhist-majority island.

But that rings hollow to voters like 56-year-old construction worker Sunil, who voted for Sirisena in 2015 amid hopes the career politician would combat corruption but now feels the president has not focused on governing.

“The president has no time for this because he is busy going all over the place,” said Sunil on a recent morning in Colombo, vowing never to vote for Sirisena again.

Sirisena’s trip to China, where he met President Xi Jinping, was pre-planned and beneficial to the nation, coordinating secretary Shiral Lakthilaka told Reuters.

Sirisena returned to Sri Lanka on Thursday and only addressed attacks on Muslim homes and shops on Friday, five days after the violence erupted.

Some disgruntled Sri Lankans were also frustrated that Sirisena’s son’s wedding went ahead. It was originally scheduled to be held in the Shangri-La, which was bombed, and ultimately celebrated at the Hilton Colombo.

Sirisena, one user identified as @sankadon tweeted, “cant even postpone the extravagant wedding at least (for) the tears and blood of the people who lost their lives due to his inability”.

Spokesman Ekanayake pushed back at the criticism, saying the wedding was scaled down and that Sirisena did not attend all the festivities.

ELECTION YEAR
The criticism comes on top of accusations that government paralysis due to a feud between Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe prevented warnings about the attacks from being disseminated. Both men, who fell out after a political crisis in October, say they were not privy to the warnings.

Sirisena was in Singapore with family when the attackers struck. He returned to Colombo 15 hours later, appointed a panel to probe defense lapses and replaced both the police chief and the defense secretary.

There are no political polls in Sri Lanka, but analysts said Sirisena was on the back foot in elections that must be held by December. “President Sirisena does not have a fighting chance,” said Eurasia analyst Akhil Bery.

Wickremesinghe is also seen as a lame duck due to disappointment over the economy under his watch. His allies say two more popular politicians from the United National Party, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya or Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa, could run instead.

To be sure, Sirisena’s chances of re-election prior to the attack were also seen as slim, but he had been vying for an alliance with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

That now seems impossible, with Rajapaksa’s brother, Gotabaya, who is running for office, doubling down on criticism that the attacks happened because the government dismantled intelligence networks he built up during Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war with Tamil rebels.
Sri Lanka's Buddhists mark somber Vesak after Easter Sunday attacks
Buddhist devotees worship at the Kelaniya Buddhist temple during Vesak Day, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 18, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Buddhist Sri Lankans marked the festival of Vesak in low key celebrations on Saturday amid heightened religious tensions in the Indian Ocean nation following the deadly Easter Sunday attacks that killed more than 250 people
 
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