Sri Lanka police chief resigns following Easter Day bombings

Sri Lanka police chief resigns following Easter Day bombings
Sri Lanka's police chief has resigned due to security mistakes leading up to deadly bombings on Easter Day.
2 min read
26 April, 2019
Sri Lanka has experienced high security following Sunday's attacks [Getty]
Sri Lanka's police chief has resigned following the Easter Day bombings which led to the deaths of over 250 people following reports of security lapses in the days leading up to the tragedy.

Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara resigned almost a week after the bomb attacks that hit churches and hotels in the capital Colombo, the country's president said on Friday.

"The IGP has resigned. He has sent his resignation to the acting defence secretary. I'll nominate a new IGP soon," President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters.

Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando had resigned on Thursday after the security services faced criticism over the attacks that have been blamed on Islamist militants.

His replacement has to be confirmed by a constitutional council.

Intelligence services had allegedly warned in a security memo on 11 April that a local Islamist group had planned to attack Catholic churches on the island.

Sri Lanka lowered its death toll for the Easter Day bombings, from over 300 people to 253, saying some of the victims were "double counted".

Authorities warned of more the potential of more attacks on Friday, advising Muslims to pray at home in case mosques are targeted.

Security was much tighter in the capital Colombo with mosques and churches holding services under the watch of armed police, according to news agencies.

Sri Lanka police named local radical preacher Zahran Hashim as the ringleader of the bombings, which Colombo and other countries believe was carried out in coordination with the Islamic State group, who claimed the attack.

A video of Hashim and seven other men who had disguised their faces was released by the militant group earlier this week, which showed them pledging allegiance to IS.

Hashim - who had previously called for attacks on non-Muslims - was reportedly killed at the Shangri-La hotel during Sunday's attacks, authorities said on Friday, along with a second bomber named as "Ilham".

Police named three women and two men are suspects who were still on the run, although one of the alleged plotters was misidentified.

Sri Lanka police deleted their Twitter account - @SriLankaPolice2 - on Friday after falsely naming an American human rights activist as a suspected Sri Lankan serial bomber.

Police said that 130 IS-linked suspects were in the country and that 70 were still at large.