Sri Lanka's Catholic church demands justice for Easter Sunday victims

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Colombo, Mar 29 (PTI) Sri Lanka's Catholic church on Monday reiterated its demand for justice in the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed 258 people, including 11 Indians.

Nine suicide bombers, belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS, carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, killing 258 people and injuring over 500 people on April 21, 2019.

In a statement on Monday, Archbishop, Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said every individual named in the presidential probe panel's report issued last month must be arrested.

'It is absolutely necessary to prosecute without hesitation all those political leaders and officials, irrespective of the positions they held, for their failure to prevent the attack,' Ranjith said.

The special panel report found that former president Maithripala Sirisena and a host of other top defense officials including, former defense secretaries, former IGPs and intelligence chiefs, were guilty of ignoring prior intelligence. The report recommended criminal action against the officials.

Addressing the Parliament earlier in the week, Sirisena denied any prior knowledge personally but said intelligence information had been received by the authorities before the attacks.

“If I knew about the intelligence information, I would have enforced a curfew, protected the churches and taken appropriate action to arrest them and prevent the attacks,' he had said.

The ruling Sri Lanka People's Front alliance, which was then in Opposition, had blamed the attacks on the failure of the security apparatus affected by the political tug of war between Sirisena as the president and his prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Colombo Church has been holding a 'Black Sunday' congregation every week, demanding justice for the victims.

Cardinal Ranjith has vowed to take action if perpetrators were not booked by the law before the attack's second anniversary, April 21. PTI CORR IND AKJ IND