Lapse in security set up - State Defence Minister | Daily News


 

Lapse in security set up - State Defence Minister

State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene admitted that there was a massive lapse in the security set up leading to the Easter Sunday attacks.

He also said neither the Prime Minister nor himself received any information regarding the intelligence report on an impending attack. “Even Tri-Forces commanders were in the dark,” he said.

Making a special statement in Parliament yesterday, he said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and himself had been excluded from the National Security Council meetings since last October.

“It is with deep regret and shame that I state that there was a massive lapse in the security set up leading to the Easter Sunday attack. It is evident that the intelligence services had prior knowledge of an impending attack on churches and had informed relevant officials. However, this information was shared only among a few officials. I must categorically state that the Prime Minister and myself, as the State Defence Minister did not receive any information on these intelligence reports. Nor was the information shared with the tri-forces commanders. While the President was away on a foreign visit, it is baffling as to why neither the Prime Minister nor I was informed of such a threat,” he said, adding that it is regrettable that until yesterday, both the Prime Minister and himself were not included in the Security Council meetings from last October.

The State Defence Minister noted that these attacks were well coordinated suicide attacks aimed at causing maximum destruction. “We believe it was carried out by an extremist Islamic group in retaliation to the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand. This group is known to have links to an organization named the National Thowheed Jamath.We should take immediate steps to ban such organizations that have links to extremist elements.We must take immediate action against any extremist group operating in Sri Lanka. These atrocities were committed by a group not motivated by religion, but driven by revenge, blinded by hate and with evil intent.”

The Minister said many Muslim groups have extended their fullest support and cooperation to the ongoing investigations. They encourage the police and the security forces to take all necessary actions against these radical elements. He urged everyone to cooperate with the police and security forces in their investigations by maintaining peace.

The Minister said: “I stand here today with a heavy heart. The peace and tranquillity of this beautiful land that we have enjoyed and worked so hard to protect was destroyed in a matter of minutes by group of ruthless terrorists. Easter Sunday is the day Catholics and Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It is a holy day, a day for families to gather in churches for peaceful prayer.

“However this peace and tranquillity was shattered by a series of devastating suicide attacks by extremists, on Churches and hotels across this land. Countless innocent lives have been lost and families were torn apart. 321 precious lives were lost and over 500 persons injured. I too have lost dear and close friends in this explosion at the Shanghai-La hotel. I believe most of us here know of someone who’s been affected by these attacks.I take this opportunity to extend my profound sympathies to all who are affected by these gruesome incidents,” Minister Wijewardene said.

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s Security Council meeting chaired by the President, the State Defence Minister said that they were informed that an inquiry will be conducted to assess the security lapse. “The Security Council also took a decision to impose a state of emergency to allow proper investigations to be carried out. “Among the deceased there are 37 foreign nationals.I extend my heartfelt condolences to all their family members and respective national leaders. I must also thank all the foreign leaders who are standing with us during this trying time.Many of these countries have offered their assistance for the ongoing investigations.”

The State Defence Minister assured that no stone will be left unturned in the government’s quest to apprehend and punish anyone involved in this heinous attack.“We have made significant arrests and are investigating possible links to international extremists group.

This country and our people have suffered enough, we must not let extremism drag us down.It may take years and decades for our wounds to heal but like the Christ’s resurrection, we too shall rise and we shall overcome,”he said.

 


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