More than 20 suspects arrested as death toll from Easter Sunday bombings rises to 290
'The Sri Lankan authorities received warnings two weeks before the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that killed at least 290 people, a cabinet spokesman admitted on Monday.
“Fourteen days before these incidents occurred, we had been informed about these incidents,” Rajitha Senaratne told a press conference in the capital, Colombo, a day after the bombings, which also injured at least 500 people.
Senaratne, Sri Lanka’s health minister, also said the names of some of the suspects had been given to authorities earlier this month.
“On 9 April, the chief of national intelligence wrote a letter and in this letter many of the names of the members of the terrorist organisation were written down.”
The intelligence memo warning about the attacks had named the radical Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath as planning suicide bomb attacks on churches, he said.
But it was unclear whether any new information had emerged since the attacks that firmly established the organisation as their perpetrators.
National Thowheeth Jama’ath is a newly formed group in Sri Lanka committed to a militant and intolerant Islamist ideology. But though it is known for being a virulently anti-Buddhist and has been linked to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues, it has not previously been linked to terrorism. Four of its members were arrested in January.
Experts say it is unlikely the organisation would have been able to rapidly develop the capability to perpetrate a complex attack involving multiple suicide bombings without very significant outside assistance.'
Read more: Sri Lanka authorities were warned of attacks two weeks ago, says minister