- The commission is being appointed in the face of accusations by the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka that investigations carried out so far have been inadequate.
- One of the accusations is that the government failed to act on the basis of shared foreign intelligence reports.
- The total of 268 people were killed in the combined Sri Lankan terrorist attacks on April 21.
Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, has appointed a commission to conduct new investigations into the coordinated Easter Day bombings that killed 268 people in the country. The announcement for the investigations was made by the Sri Lankan government Sunday. Islamic extremist groups are believed to have been behind the suicide bombings that took place on April 21, in which three churches were attacked as well as three luxury hotels in various parts of the country.
The new commission, led by a judge of the court of appeal, is set to begin its work amid accusations by the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, led by Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, that investigations carried out so far in regard to the attacks have been inadequate. The Sri Lankan President has appointed the commission to investigate the groups responsible for the coordinated attacks. They will also investigate whether officials made mistakes by not promptly responding to the security intelligence warnings that were given prior to the attack, a spokesman for the president’s office said.
The commission has been given a six-month period to conduct the investigations and report back to the president. One of the accusations against the country’s police, and its entire security team, is that they failed to act on the basis of shared foreign intelligence reports that Islamist groups were planning to carry out attacks on churches. The government has previously argued that the warnings did not contain specific information about the bomb attack.
The perpetrators of the bomb attacks were, according to authorities, members of the jihadist group National Thowheeth Jama’at, which has declared loyalty to Islamic State in Syria. Prior to the bomb attacks, the leader of the group, Zahran Hashim, had made a video with his associates, swearing allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The attacks in Sri Lanka hit three churches, three luxury hotels, and two more suicide bombing targets. The world was shocked by the news of the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks, in which six explosions took place almost simultaneously. Three luxury hotels were hit in the capital city, Colombo— the Shangri La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury Hotel. The other three explosions occurred in churches, where believers were attending the Easter mass celebrations. They took place at a church in Colombo, a church in Negombo 30 kilometers to the north and a church in Batticaloa, 250 kilometers east of the capital. At least 50 lives were lost in the St. Sebastian church in Negombo alone, and at least 25 in Batticaloa.
A little before eleven o’clock, a seventh explosion happened in a hotel in Dehiwala, a suburb of Colombo, close to a zoo. According to the Sri Lankan police, at least two people lost their lives. And a little later an eighth explosion took place, in Orugodawatta (in the north of Colombo). Three officers had entered a building in search of a possible suspect. A terrorist killed himself and three others in an explosion. The total of 268 people were killed in the combined Sri Lankan terrorist attacks.