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Sri Lankan Church flays top cop for visiting Easter attack victims  

IGP Deshbandu Tennakoon is accused of failing to prevent the deadly bombings despite prior intelligence inputs
Devotees carry a partly damaged statue of Jesus salvaged from rubble after the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings on St. Sebastian's Church on March 31

Devotees carry a partly damaged statue of Jesus salvaged from rubble after the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings on St. Sebastian's Church on March 31. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 04, 2024 12:10 PM GMT
Updated: April 04, 2024 12:19 PM GMT

Senior Sri Lankan Church officials have disapproved a visit by a top cop to the 2019 Easter Sunday attack victims and a bombed church ahead of a protest march on April 21 to mark the fifth anniversary of the simultaneous explosions.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Deshbandu Tennakoon visited St. Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya on the outskirts of the capital Colombo on March 31 (Easter Sunday) to inspect security and distribute dry ration parcels to the victims and their families.

A presidential panel that probed the terror attack had recommended disciplinary action against Tennakoon, who then served as Deputy Inspector General (DIG), for his failure to prevent the explosions on three churches and three luxury hotels that left more than 275 dead and more than 500 hurt despite prior intelligence inputs.

Tennakoon, who was elevated to the new position on April 3, is also accused of failure to arrest the suspect after a grenade was found at All Saints Church in Borella, near Colombo, in 2022.

The Sri Lankan Church, which has always blamed the government for its failure to arrest the perpetrators, plans to hold a street march and a rally on April 21 to mark the fifth anniversary of the bombings.

“Offering a bag of goods and lighting candles is an insult to the victims," vicar of St. Sebastian's Church Father Manjula Niroshan said while condemning the visit by Tennakoon, accompanied by men in uniform.

No one informed us “that IGP Tennakoon would visit” the church on Easter Sunday, the priest added.

The villagers were also not informed that the “IGP would come to the houses of the victims," Father Niroshan told reporters on April 3.

For the past five years, we have been seeking the arrest of the masterminds, said Father Niroshan while referring to the tardy progress in the probe.

Father Cyril Gamini, a spokesperson of the Colombo archdiocese, flayed the police chief for distributing dry ration parcels.

Rather “we are seeking justice for them [victims and their families],” the spokesperson added.

“We urge an independent international investigation," stressed Father Gamini which was also earlier aired by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo.

The cardinal has filed a suit in the Supreme Court against the government's decision to promote Tennakoon as the top cop. The top court in the country has already concluded the hearing of seven petitions against his promotion.

The government beefed up security on 1,873 churches in the country during the Holy Week this year and Tennakoon visited several places, including St. Sebastian Church, as part of reviewing security.

Surini Attapattu, a university student from the Colombo archdiocese, alleged conspiracy at the highest level behind the Easter Sunday attacks.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his team exploited the attack to further their political objectives and come to power, Attapattu said.

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