Sri Lankan officials inspect St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, north of Colombo, after multiple explosions targeting churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, in Negombo, Sri Lanka.(Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)


AUTHORITIES were warned two weeks before the Easter Sunday attacks, a cabinet spokesperson said on Monday (22).

The death toll from the deadly attacks has risen to 290, with close to 500 injured.

“Fourteen days before these incidents occurred, we had been informed about these incidents,” Rajitha Senaratne told a press conference in the capital city of Colombo.

“On the 9th of 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 had warned radical Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath as the potential perpetrators.

Senaratne however noted that prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cabinet were “not informed” of the warnings as they were not invited to the national security council meetings. These meetings are led by Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena.

Meanwhile, security experts said the coordinated Easter Sunday attacks bore the marks of militant groups Islamic State or the Al Waeda.

“These synchronised attacks are out of the ordinary for Sri Lanka. Compared with similar attacks in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it has the DNA of attacks carried out by Islamic State and al Qaeda,” Alto Labetubun, an anti-terrorism expert who has researched the two groups for a decade, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

A senior Asian counter-terrorism official, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters that the attack was likely carried out by a group with “significant operational capability and skilled commanders”.

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion.