COLOMBO, Sri Lanka's president suspended the
chief of police on Monday and appointed a new defence secretary in a shakeup
of the shellshocked country's security services following the Easter Sunday
Intelligence warnings from abroad alerting to possible attacks by Islamist
extremists were ignored ahead of the multiple bombings of churches and
upscale hotels on April 21 that killed 253 people and injured nearly 500.
Chief of police Pujith Jayasundara had refused to quit to clear the way
for a shakeup of the 85,000strong force, prompting President Maithripala
Sirisena to suspend him on Monday.
Senior Deputy InspectorGeneral Chandana Wickramaratne was appointed
acting police chief in his place, Sirisena's office said in a statement.
Separately Sirisena appointed on Monday a former head of the army, Shantha
Kottegoda, as the country's top defence official.
His predecessor at the ministry of defence and law and order, Hemasiri
Fernando, stepped down on Thursday in the wake of the attacks, which were
claimed by the Islamic State group.
General Kottegoda, 69, was forced to retire as head of the army in
December 2005, by thenpresident Mahinda Rajapakse.
Sirisena said an intelligence agency from a neighbouring country had
provided precise details of the impending attack 17 days in advance, but
local authorities had failed to take counter measures.
Official sources said the president was referring to information provided
by India's Research and Analysis Wing which apparently gleaned details of the
Easter attacks from a jihadist suspect in Indian custody.
The government has since declared a state of emergency and deployed
thousands of troops for search operations against Islamist extremists.
Security forces searched a Muslim burial ground in Colombo Monday
following information that explosives had been hidden there, but the troops
did not find any, officials said.
However, cordon and search searches were carried out across the country
and 13 foreign nationals overstaying their visas were arrested, police said.
It was not clear if the foreigners � 10 Nigerians and one each from
India, Iran and Thailand � were linked to religious extremists or the Easter
Over 150 people have been arrested since April 21 and more than 15 people
killed in raids.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)