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Ex-IGP says he was at his official residence at the time of Easter Sunday attacks



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The police had not come up with a plan to deal with an impending terrorist attack after the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had received foreign intelligence, on April 04, 2019 that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and his associates would carry out an attack, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara on Saturday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks.

Earlier the Additional Solicitor General (ASG,) who led evidence asked the witness if the police had prepared a contingency plan to face emergency situations.

Jayasundara said that there were contingency plans at Police stations, Police divisions and at the national level.

“If the government declares an emergency, the plan is implemented as per the situation. The plan will be implemented through the IGP’s Command Room in Mirihana.”

A commissioner then asked Jayasundara why the plan had not been implemented although the Director of SIS, on 20 April, had informed him that a terrorist attack would take place on 21 April.

“I was at my official residence when I received the information. I took steps to inform the senior DIGs about it.”

“Where were you on the morning of 21 April?” a commissioner asked.

“I was at my official residence,” Jayasundara said.

The commission then asked why Jayasundara had been at his official residence instead of going to the IGP’s Command Room and taking any action.

Jayasundara said that he had instructed the SIS Director to inform the officials concerned about the relevant information.

“I had not been informed that there could be an attack on tourist hotels. Former SIS Director SDIG Jayawardena told me that the information received on 20 April was an update of the information received earlier. He only said there could be a serious incident on 21 April.”ness said.

Chairman of the Commission asked Jayasundara why SDIG Jayawardena and other SDIGs had not been summoned on the night of the 20 April to clarify the relevant information.

“At that time, we could only send officers to the relevant places. There was no time to discuss. Also, even though we were not aware, suicide bombers had also reached their targets by that time,” he said.

The ASG suggested that the Police had not paid enough attention to the information provided by the SIS for many years. The former IGP said that it was not correct.

“We never had a chance to question the information coming from the SIS. Given the political situation at the time, I was not even invited to the National Security Council meetings,” he said.

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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters




(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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Foreign News

US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China




US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF



Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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