Easter Sunday horror

Monday 22nd April, 2019

A group of brainwashed barbarians turned Easter Sunday into a day of horror. Bomb attacks left more than 200 people dead and about 450 others injured in three Catholic churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa and three Colombo hotels. Among the dead were some foreigners. Explosions also rocked Dehiwala and Dematagoda. These cowardly attacks which must be condemned unreservedly have shown how vulnerable this country still is to terror strikes.

The organisation responsible for Sunday’s savage attacks has not been named by the police. Whoever carried them out, there has been a serious lapse on the part of the defence establishment, which has been playing politics with national security, for the last several years. The possibility of the LTTE reviving is not the only threat Sri Lanka is faced with. Threats can emanate from other sources as well.

Foreign terrorist groups can use this country for their operations due to lax security and the easing of visa restrictions. They can also enlist the backing of other criminal groups such as drug dealers to further their interests. The former war zone is awash with arms, ammunition and explosives, and they are reportedly available for sale in other parts of the country as well.

Ten years free from terrorist attacks apparently lulled the defence authorities into a false sense of complacency. On some occasions, they went to the extent of ridiculing those who urged them to remain vigilant and accusing the latter of trying to derail the reconciliation process. There would be no terror attacks ever again in this country, some of the defence bigwigs and ruling politicians declared.

President Maithripala Sirisena, in his statement on the savage attacks referred to them as unexpected. Why the government did not anticipate such incidents is the question. Intelligence is a prerequisite for fighting terrorism. What prevented the LTTE from paralysing the Colombo city with bomb attacks, towards the latter stages of the war, was the fact that state intelligence agencies were brought together, and they provided the National Security Council, which met weekly with a comprehensive intelligence report, which was promptly acted upon. This practice continued for a few years even after the conclusion of the war.

It is being claimed, in some quarters, that the government recently received an intelligence warning of a possible attack, but it went unheeded. If so, the government ought to explain why it failed to take action to pre-empt Sunday’s incidents. The police yesterday, refused to either confirm or deny a leaked intelligence document, issued about 10 days ago, warning of possible suicide attacks by an extremist group. If this letter is not genuine then the government must conduct a thorough probe and find out why the intelligence agencies failed in their duties.

The police swung into action in the immediate aftermath of the first few explosions and made some arrests. They raided a place suspected to be a safe house used by the attackers and three police personnel were killed when a suspect caused an explosion. The police say they acted on a tip-off. If only they had cared to gather intelligence without waiting till disaster struck.

Sunday’s terror strikes were not on a particular religious community; they were brutal attacks on all Sri Lankans and they must be treated as such. All those responsible for those act of savagery must made to pay for their crime and their outfit eliminated, root and branch.

Meanwhile, it is hoped that the security forces and police personnel who are conducting the ongoing anti-terror operations to make the country safe, again, for the people, belonging to all ethnic and religious communities, will not be hauled up before international tribunals.


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