India warned Lanka after detaining IS suspects
India warned Sri Lanka of possible suicide bombings weeks before the Easter attacks, based on “threatening” Islamic State-influenced material seized from suspects in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a source with knowledge of the investigation told AFP yesterday. A major dispute has erupted in Sri Lanka over why security services did not act over the warnings. The Sri Lankan police chief issued an alert on April 11 but it did not reach a top minister. India’s evidence, which included videos, was initially seized in raids in 2018 in which seven men were detained in the city of Coimbatore, media reports said. The seven are now under investigation on charges of links with the Islamic State group. “The videos showed a radical leader in Sri Lanka making threatening comments that indicated suicide attacks were possible,” the source said.
Father of two bombers suspected of helping sons
One of the Sri Lanka suicide bombers was previously arrested by police and then released, a senior government official told CNN yesterday. Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim -- one of two sons of a spice tycoon who blew themselves up in Sunday’s attacks -- detonated a device at the Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo, the official told CNN. “It was the suicide bomber of the Cinnamon Grand bomb attack who was released earlier,” the official said. Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim and his brother Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim were previously identified as two of the suicide bombers in Sunday’s attacks, which left at least 359 people dead across the country. Police have confirmed to CNN that they are holding the brothers’ father, Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader, on suspicion of aiding and abetting his sons.
Sri Lanka halts low season visa-free plan after blasts
Sri Lanka’s government said yesterday it was suspending plans to grant citizens of 39 countries visa-free entry during the country’s tourism low season after deadly Easter bombings that killed hundreds. “Although arrangements were in place to issue visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries, we have now decided to hold it for the time being in consideration of the current security situation,” Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said in a statement. “Investigations have revealed foreign links to the (Easter) attacks and we don’t want this programme to be abused.” Sri Lanka had announced last month a plan to allow visa-free entry to tourists from 39 countries, including EU members, Australia and the United States, during the low season, from May 1. The scheme did not include China and India, from where many of Sri Lanka’s visitors come.
Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka
Israel yesterday urged its citizens travelling in Sri Lanka to leave the country, citing an “elevated concrete threat” following deadly Easter bombings there. The recommendation from Israel’s counter-terrorism bureau said the travel warning was issued after consultations with security and foreign ministry officials. It said it was issuing the warning “in view of the deterioration in the security situation and the fear that the events have not yet ended or that there is a chance of their recurrence in the near future”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered aid to Sri Lankan authorities in the wake of the attacks which saw suicide bombers blow themselves up in luxury hotels and churches packed with Easter Sunday worshippers, killing nearly 360 people.