Sri Lanka shakes up in­tel­li­gence agency

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Colombo, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka has for the first time named a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer to head the coun­try’s main in­tel­li­gence agency, which was blamed for fail­ing to pre­vent ex­trem­ist bomb­ings in April that killed 259 peo­ple.

The head of the State In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (SIS) was re­placed by Bri­gadier Suresh Sal­lay, a for­mer head of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence, of­fi­cial sources said on Mon­day.

It is the first time that a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer has filled the po­si­tion, and the ap­point­ment comes three weeks af­ter Gotabaya Ra­japaksa was elected Pres­i­dent promis­ing bet­ter se­cu­rity.

Ra­japaksa ef­fec­tively ran the se­cu­rity forces when the mil­i­tary crushed Tamil sep­a­ratist mil­i­tants in 2009 to end Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war. At the time his brother Mahinda Ra­japaksa was pres­i­dent.

A lo­cal group was blamed for the co­or­di­nated Easter Sun­day at­tacks against three lux­ury ho­tels and three churches on April 21.

A com­mit­tee of par­lia­ment which in­ves­ti­gated lapses lead­ing to the dev­as­tat­ing bomb­ings found much of the re­spon­si­bil­ity lay with the then head of the SIS, Se­nior Deputy In­spec­tor Gen­eral Ni­lan­tha Jayawar­dena.

He had been warned on April 4 by a for­eign in­tel­li­gence agency - iden­ti­fied pre­vi­ously by of­fi­cials as from In­dia - of a pos­si­ble at­tack.

‘This fail­ure by the SIS has re­sulted in hun­dreds of deaths, many more in­jured and im­mea­sur­able dev­as­ta­tion to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans, and that must not be treated lightly’, the par­lia­men­tary re­port said.

The then pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena has long blamed po­lice chief Pu­jith Jaya­sun­dara and Min­istry of De­fence sec­re­tary He­masiri Fer­nando for lapses, and ini­ti­ated crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions against them.

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