sri lanka church bombing
© Agence France-Presse / Jewel Samad
Police sift for evidence at one of the church bombing sites in Sri Lanka
The head of Sri Lanka's parliament has made damning accusations against senior officials in the government, alleging that they withheld intelligence about impending attacks on churches, hotels and politicians.

A series of Easter Sunday bombings at Sri Lankan churches andhotels killed at least 359 people. Authorities have made dozens of arrests in the aftermath.

"Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions," Lakshman Kiriella, leader of the parliament, said Wednesday.

warning sri lanka bombings
© New York Times
An advisory sent by a Sri Lankan police official this month warned of a threat from National Thowheeth Jama’ath
Kiriella claims that Sri Lankan authorities received a warning from Indian intelligence about possible attacks on April 4, and that this information was shared at a Security Council meeting, chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena, on April 7 but was not shared further.

"Somebody is controlling these top intelligence officials," Kiriella added. "The Security Council is doing politics. We need to investigate into this."

A confidential April 11 security memo contained names, addresses, phone numbers and movement patterns of the attackers from the National Thowheeth Jama'ath group suspected of carrying out the spate of attacks. Sri Lankan authorities also knew as far back as January that the group was stockpiling weapons and detonators.

Government minister Rauff Hakeem described it as a "colossal failure on the part of the intelligence services," as in-fighting between Sri Lanka's president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to have prevented effective action being taken to avert the danger.
"If the names of the persons involved were already known, why were they not arrested?" he added.

It has been estimated that the terrorists needed at least 7 to 8 years to plan the operation according to lawmaker and former Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said. The coordinated attacks killed 359 people.

The bombings "must have been planned for at least 7-8 years," according to Fonseka, who also serves as minister of regional development, told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Sarath Fonseka sri lanka official bombing

Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's former army chief
On April 21, nine suicide bombers targeted several Christian churches and luxury hotels, with most of the attacks taking place in Colombo, the nation's largest city.

The death toll has continued to rise, and is now at least 359, the junior defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said at a press event on Wednesday.

More than 60 people were arrested in connection to the bombings. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks but provided no evidence of its involvement.

Sri Lankan authorities confirmed the existence of "some links" between IS and the Easter Sunday bombings, but said that domestic Islamist groups, National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim, were most likely behind the massacre.

New bombs still being found

A bomb squad carried out a "controlled explosion" near a movie in Colombo, Sri Lanka after police discovered a "suspicious" scooter, while dealing with the aftermath of a series of bombings that killed 359 people.

The controlled explosion was conducted on Wednesday near the Savoy Theatre in the Wellawatte neighborhood of Colombo, Sri Lanka's largest city.

Police discovered a "suspicious motorbike" parked outside of the cinema and decided to destroy it after they couldn't open its seat, the junior defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, told reporters.

It comes on the heels of the April 21 suicide bombings, which targeted several Christian churches and luxury hotels across the country, with the majority of the attacks taking place in Colombo.

According to the latest information from Wijewardene, the death toll from the Easter Sunday bombing has risen to 359 people, including 39 foreigners. Earlier, the UN said that over 40 minors were among those who died.

The investigators have identified eight out of the nine suicide bombers that carried out the attacks, police said. A total of 60 people were arrested in connection with the tragedy.

Sri Lankan authorities suspect that two domestic Islamist groups, the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim, were behind the massacre. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) also claimed responsibility for the attacks, but offered no evidence.

However, the authorities confirmed the existence of "some links" between IS and the Sunday bombings.