A local organisation named National Thowheed Jamath carried out the eight explosions across three cities of Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that killed 290 people and injured over 500, the Sri Lankan government told the media on Monday.
Addressing the media on Monday, Rajitha Senaratne, the Sri Lankan Minister for Health and Indigenous Medicine, who was responding to a reporter question, said, “National Thowheed Jamath was involved. It is a local organisation, we don't know whether they are linked to outsiders. All those arrested are locals.”
Senaratne, who was addressing the media along with other Sri Lankan ministers, called the attacks a ‘colossal intelligence failure’ and stated that despite receiving prior information, the attacks could not be prevented.
“On April 4, international intel agencies had warned of these attacks, those reports said targets are churches and tourist destinations. The IGP was informed of this on 9 April, including names of suspected terrorists (were given),” Rajitha Senaratne said, addressing the media.
Senaratne stated that the country’s Security Council wanted to meet on Sunday but since the President was overseas, the Council could not be held.
“As a government, we apologise to families and other institutions. The problem is that even when we met the Prime Minister at the Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister was also in the dark. He had seen this circular only when we did. He was left out of Security Council meetings,” Senaratne added.
The minister spoke of the Intel notice that was reported out by news agency AFP on Sunday; the agency said that it had seen documents containing a tip-off by the police to top intelligent officials about possible attacks on churches. Two Sri Lankan ministers, Mano Ganesan and Harin Fernando, had also stated on Twitter that the government had prior information about an impending attack. However, reports had quoted Sri Lankan police officials stating that they were not aware of such an intelligence report.
Calling for the IGP’s resignation, Senaratne said, “This morning (Monday) the President, the Prime Minister and State Defence Minister met for the first time. We need a unified political leadership today to overcome this situation and we will take every action to eradicate terrorism from our country.”
Rauff Hakeem, a Minister and leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said that being a Muslim minister in the Cabinet he believed the Muslim community and its leaders should introspect.
"We are ashamed and outraged. We have tried to address issues within the community," he said.
290 people have been killed and over 500 have been injured in the eight explosions. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared an emergency from Monday midnight and has re-imposed a curfew from 8 pm on April 22 to 4 am on April 23. A compensation of 1 million Sri Lankan rupees has been announced for families of those who died and 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees will be given for funerals, Senaratne added.
24 people have been arrested in connection with the blast and are being questioned by the CID. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has stated that his government had received intel about the attack but many ministers were not told about the same. An inquiry will be set up to probe into how the information was used, media reports stated.