COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday sought the assistance of the British government and their intelligence services to complete the investigation of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide attacks that killed nearly 270 people and battered the island nation's tourism industry.
Nine suicide bombers belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three Catholic churches and as many luxury hotels on April 21, 2019, killing nearly 270 people, including 11 Indians, and injuring over 500.
The attack stirred a political storm as the then government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe were blamed for their inability to prevent the attacks despite prior intelligence being made available.
Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as Acting President on Friday after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives and then to Singapore from where he resigned in the face of public revolt against his government's mishandling of the country's economy, said that the absence of a proper Easter Sunday investigation has meant that this issue has still not been fully resolved.
In a special statement on Monday, Acting President Wickremesinghe said that due to the incomplete nature of the Easter Sunday probe he is requesting the assistance of the UK Government and their intelligence services.
On the third anniversary of the Easter terror attack in April, then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa vowed that the Sri Lankan government will not rest until justice has been served on the guilty behind the 2019 attacks.
A month later, Mahinda had to step down in May after massive protests against him over attacks by his supporters on the anti-government protesters.
The Easter attacks victims' families led by the head of the local church, Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, have been critical of the slow pace of the investigations which they claim is a political ploy for a cover-up.
A special presidential probe found then-president Sirisena himself along with a host of other top defence officials guilty of ignoring prior intelligence. The panel report had recommended criminal action against them. Cardinal Ranjith has been regularly expressing disappointment over the police investigation and its slow nature.
In November last, then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked his detractors to be careful while demanding quick action against the perpetrators of the deadly Easter terror attacks, warning that his government can "act tough" on the critics if the need arises. He had said the judicial proceedings were underway and his government will not interfere in them.