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Previous regime ignored 97 early warnings on Easter carnage – Defence Secy

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The previous government had ignored 97 early warnings about the impending Easter Sunday attacks, Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said, addressing a gathering of professionals at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute recently.

The event organised by the “Harimaga organization” was themed “Post COVID-19 Renaissance – Present and future development of Sri Lanka.”

Gunaratne said national security and defence were essential for the country’s development.

 “These two are also crucial in attracting much-needed direct foreign investment to the country,” he said, alluding to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election manifesto – Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.

“Although separatism was militarily defeated in May 2009, we need to eliminate the separatist ideology. Some individuals of the Tamil diaspora are constantly promoting this ideology,.”.

Following the war 12,242 ex-LTTE cadres had been rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society. However, some remnants of front organisations of the LTTE were still attempting to indoctrinate and recruit the rehabilitated cadres, he said.

Referring to the Easter Sunday suicide attacks in 2019, the Defence Secretary said that if those responsible had listened to the intelligence agencies the attacks could have been prevented. “Our military intelligence operatives were imprisoned and harassed. This caused gaps in our intelligence information. This allowed extremists to operate scot-free and under the radar” he said.

In contrast the current administration took intelligence information seriously and because of that a number of detections had already been made, Gunaratne said. The security forces had found over 1.5 kilos of high explosives and over 90 detonators from Mannar.

“In addition, the military has also taken a few remote control devices into custody. If we also overlooked these incidents, none of these would have been recovered. We will never leave room for separatism from the North to rise or extremism from the East to spread fear and destruction in this country ever.”

 The Defence Secretary also mentioned the steps taken to eliminate drug syndicates that had been operating from prison cells. “To deal with this, we appointed capable officers in charge of the Prisons Department and the Police Special Task Force,” he said.

Speaking about the initiatives taken to change the existing system in prisons, Gunaratne said a maximum security prison was already under construction to detain serious criminals and drug smugglers. Meanwhile mobile phone jammers had already been installed at the Boossa and the Angunakolapelessa prisons.

He also revealed plans to enhance the welfare of prisoners and to reduce overcrowding in prisons.

“We have taken steps to increase facilities to rehabilitate drug addicts. A special Centre, with state-of- the-art facilities, to accommodate over 1,000 inmates is now under construction at Nittambuwa. Another facility will be constructed at Weerawila to accommodate 2,000 inmates”, he added.

The Defence Secretary highlighted the plans to curb illegal sand mining and prevent illegal encroachments especially in the Western Province. A special unit had been established at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to investigate public complaints, he said.

Commandant of the Police Special Task Force (STF) DIG Waruna Jayasundara, Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya and Chairperson Harimaga organization Kanishka de Silva were also present.

 



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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