International drug syndicates orchestrated Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter Sunday bombings, the country’s leader claimed yesterday, despite earlier blaming the attacks on Islamists.
The statement comes amid a nationwide narcotics crackdown, with President Maithripala Sirisena aiming to reintroduce capital punishment for drug offences.
Authorities have said local jihadist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) were responsible for the suicide bombings in churches and hotels that killed at least 258 people in April. The attacks were later claimed by the Islamic State group.
Sirisena’s office said the day after the bombings that local terrorists and international terror groups were responsible for the attacks.
But in a statement issued by his office yesterday, Sirisena said the attacks “were the work of international drug dealers”.
“Drug barons carried out this attack to discredit me and discourage my anti-narcotics drive. I will not be deterred,” he said.
Sirisena is waging a battle against efforts by his governing coalition in parliament to abolish capital punishment, which has been subject to a moratorium since 1976.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe discounted the president’s claims.