Top Sri Lankan officials deliberately withheld intelligence on attacks: minister

FILE PHOTO: Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony Shrine, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka LiyanawatteCOLOMBO (Reuters) – Senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks on Sri Lanka, where a rash…


FILE PHOTO: Security personnel stand guard outside St. Anthony Shrine, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks on Sri Lanka, where a rash of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday killed at least 359 people, the leader of parliament said on Wednesday.

“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, who is also minister of public enterprise, told parliament.

He said information on possible suicide attacks on churches, hotels and politicians were received from Indian intelligence on April 4 and a Security Council meeting was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena on April 7, but the information was not shared more widely.

“Somebody is controlling these top intelligence officials,” the minister said. “The Security Council is doing politics. We need to investigate into this.”

Separately, Sarath Fonseka, former army chief and minister of regional development, told parliament he believed the attacks “must have been planned for at least 7-8 years”.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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