President admits to lapses on part of Sri Lankan defence authorities

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The envoys of foreign countries and the representatives of international agencies were unanimous in their expression of fullest support to President Maithripala Sirisena to curb terrorism in Sri Lanka, which has raised its ugly head on Easter Sunday, the President’s Media Division (PMD) says.

Addressing all the Ambassadors and High Commissioners based in Sri Lanka, Resident representatives of United Nations and affiliated organizations and Heads of other international agencies at the Presidential Secretariat today (April 23), President Sirisena expressed confidence that the terrorism can be curbed soon as the law enforcement agencies have taken swift measures to identify and arrest the criminals responsible for acts of terrorism and aiding and abetting such acts, the PMD said.

He revealed that already eight countries with experience, intelligence skills and high technology capabilities to fight terrorism have assured Sri Lanka that they would provide assistance, and appealed to other countries to assist and cooperate in this fight against the menace of terrorism. The ambassadors, high commissioners and other representatives assured the President that they would provide every possible assistance to Sri Lanka to curb terrorism, according to the PMD.

The envoys who expressed their views included the representatives of the United Nations and European Union and Ambassadors of Germany, United States, Denmark and Norway and Pakistan High Commissioner.

President Sirisena said that he would be truthful and acknowledged that there were lapses on the part of defence authorities as they failed to inform him about this development. He revealed that there would be a restructuring in security sector positions shortly.

He has pointed out Sri Lankan intelligence experiences gained during the 30-year-old conflict and during the Kandy incident, would be useful to carry out anti-terrorism measures, now that the armed forces could use emergency powers enacted last night.

The President has said that although there were intelligence reports about possible terrorist cells, no legal action could be taken with normal laws without sufficient evidence. “I am confident that with such reorganizations of the security sector and with the assistance of foreign expertise, the threat of terrorism could be curbed soon,” he has emphasized. He added that already FBI and Interpol agreed to send teams of experts to assist investigations.

President Sirisena has said the blocking of social media could be lifted by tomorrow if on untoward incidents today. “We will not allow the limited emergency regulations Gazette last night to be used against the ordinary people and they will be used only against terror suspects and I take that responsibility myself,” he has said.

The President has expressed his gratitude to the foreign leaders and their representatives for sharing Sri Lanka’s sorrow and grief at this time of catastrophe.

Commander of Defence Services, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne has briefed the envoys about the methodology of explosions, the identification of culprits and the arrests taken place. He also mentioned the strong possibility of links with international terrorists.

Secretary to the President, Udaya R Seneviratne and Additional secretary Esala Weerakoon and Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinha were also present on this occasion, the PMD reported.