Sri Lanka’s former President and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Maithripala Sirisena defended his record claiming that if he had prior warnings of the Easter Sunday bombings he “would not let the attacks happen”.
“These terrorists have launched attacks in more than 50 countries. Even USA could not prevent the attacks in 2001” he told an assembly organised by member of the Colombo Municipal Council, M.N. Manzil.
“I was attacked by many over social media during my tenure as President of this country. However, people had no issues during my time” he further claimed.
The Easter Sunday bombings would claim the lives of 279 people and injured over 500 others. Sirisena’s claim that he had no prior warning of the deadly attacks contradicts reporting that details how Indian authorities notified him and senior Sri Lankan intelligence leaders of the attack 17 days in advance. Sri Lanka’s Presidential Commission of Inquiry also noted that minutes before the explosions he received several calls from State Intelligence Service Director Nilantha Jayawardena warning him.
Muslim communities on the island also delivered prior warning against the National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ), a group that Rajapaksa had provided an office in Colombo to and was rumoured to be on the payroll of Sri Lankan intelligence.
Months after the attacks, Sri Lanka’s own Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report said the security forces may have allowed the bombings to proceed in order to “create chaos and instil fear” ahead of the presidential elections that took place in 2019.
Years later, a full account of the attack has not been provided. In April, Pope Francis urged Sri Lanka authorities to reveal the identity of the perpetrators of the bombings.
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