June 20, 2019 / 5:26 PM / a month ago

Sri Lanka prosecutor orders probe of nine officers over Easter bombing lapses

FILE PHOTO: Police officers work at the scene at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, after bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels on Easter, in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s main prosecutor directed the acting police chief to carry out an investigation into nine officers who are suspected of failing to help prevent the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people, a document showed.

More than 250 people including 42 foreigners were killed in the attacks, for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility. The attacks sent shockwaves through the Indian Ocean island state, which had enjoyed relative peace since a civil war ended a decade ago.

“You are hereby directed to initiate criminal investigations with regard to the lapses of the above officers to prevent/minimize the above attacks,” the Attorney General wrote in a letter to the acting police chief seen by Reuters. The letter named the nine senior police officers.

Despite three advance intelligence reports from India on pending attacks, Sri Lanka’s top defence officials failed to act before the Easter day suicide bombings by Islamist militants that targeted three churches and three luxury hotels.

Authorities said the attacks were carried out by two little-known domestic groups: the National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim.

Authorities say the threat of more attacks has been contained and the security services have dismantled most of the network linked to the bombings.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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