The Weekend Leader - Sirisena axes Defence Secretary, police chief

Sirisena axes Defence Secretary, police chief



Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara to resign over mis-handling of intelligence reports in the lead-up to Easter Sunday's bombings that killed nearly 360 people, officials said on Wednesday.

Warnings had been shared with Sri Lankan security services, including one memo addressed to the IGP, ahead of attacks but no steps were taken to prevent them.

Officials said Sirisena informed the Defence Secretary of his decision during a meeting and later conveyed it to the police chief, according to Xinhua news agency.

Sri Lanka's opposition MP Wijedasa Rajapaksa said at a press conference he forwarded a letter to the President urging him to arrest both the men.

In an address to the nation on Tuesday, the President said he would change the heads of defence forces within 24 hours, following their failure to take adequate measures to prevent the suicide attacks.

Admitting lapses on the part of defence authorities, the President said he would restructure the police and security forces in the coming weeks.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Monday the police had prior information on possible terror attacks but adequate measures were not taken. Wickremesinghe said the information had not been shared with him or the Ministers, while the President said he had not been informed either.

Sirisena has ordered a probe into why the details had not been shared.

Sixty suspects have been arrested over the blasts, which were claimed by the Islamic State terror group on Tuesday. IANS

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