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Indian High Commission was 'potential target' in Easter Sunday attack: Sri Lanka parliament committee

ANI | Updated: Oct 23, 2019 23:55 IST

Colombo [Sri Lanka], Oct 23 (ANI): The select committee of Sri Lankan Parliament on Sunday Easter attack has said that the Indian High Commission here was a "potential target" of terror attack and also referred to intelligence input about a hotel where Indians were staying in large numbers as a likely target.
The 272-page report was submitted to Parliament on Wednesday by the nine-member Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).
"Parliament cannot recommend the perpetrators of this attack. That power is in the court. The task of the Select Committee was to find out where were the shortcomings, negligence and weaknesses," Chairman of the PSC and Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said in the court, according to Colombo Page.
"The PSC also notes that intelligence information received indicated that the Indian High Commission was one of the potential targets and that it is surprising an intelligence official who is a prominent part within the intelligence apparatus in Sri Lanka was not aware of the possible links between the intelligence information received, source, potential target etc," the report read.
On April 21, Easter Sunday, suicide terrorist bombings in three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka killed around 270 people and wounded more than 400 people. The eight suicide bombers were also killed.
At least 40 foreign nationals and at least 45 children were reported to be among the dead.
Investigators identified Zahran Hashim, one-time leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, as the main suspect behind the execution of these co-ordinated attacks.
The report pointed out that the Director of State Intelligence Service (SIS) had sent a 'top secret' letter to Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundera on April 9, 12 days before the attack that the NTJ and his associates were planning to carry out a suicide attack in Sri Lanka and that they were to target some churches and Indian High Commission.
The letter also stated that the modes of attack may include suicide attack, weapon attack, knife attack or truck attack.
"On April 9, 2019 the Director, SIS had sent IGP, with copies to CNI and CID, a letter marked 'Top Secret' giving the details - that Zahran Hashim of the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and his associates are planning to carry out a suicide attack in Sri Lanka and that they were to target some churches. It was also conveyed that the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka was to be a target," it said.
"No dates were given as to when the attack was to be carried out. It goes on to state that the modes of attack may include suicide attack, weapon attack, knife attack or truck attack. Individuals who are likely team members of the planned suicide attack include- Zahran Hashim, Ja Al Quithal, Rilwan, Saji Moulavi, Shahid, Milhan and others," it added.
The report has concluded that there was intelligence failure on the part of Director SIS, the lead in the intelligence apparatus who had received pride of place at the ICM and NSC. The PSC also speaks about "failure" on the part of the SIS to act on the subsequent intelligence information received after the explosion on April 16, 2019 in Kattankudy.
The PSC said that intelligence information related to the attacks was first received by the Director, SIS on April 4, 2019 but there were delays from his end to share it with the relevant intelligence and security personnel.
It also observed that the SIS missed a series of events that should have alerted the state security apparatus to the impending attacks and demonstrated to them the importance of the intelligence information received. This was in the context of intelligence already known on Zahran and his allies including police reports on him and arrest warrants issued on him dated March 2017.

The PSC also slammed several politicians for making "inflammatory and irresponsible" remarks after the Easter Sunday attacks. "The PSC notes that speeches that incite hate and racism, by politicians, religious leaders and others, are extremely dangerous and must be independently investigated and individuals held to account. Inaction will only exacerbate the impunity and contribute to further hate and fear in Sri Lanka," the report said. (ANI)