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Sri Lanka president suspends police chief over Easter attacks

Published: Updated:

Sri Lanka’s president suspended the chief of police on Monday and appointed a new defense secretary in a shake-up of the shell-shocked country’s security services following the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Intelligence warnings from abroad alerting to possible attacks by 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 shake-up of the 85,000-strong force, prompting President Maithripala Sirisena to suspend him on Monday.

Senior Deputy Inspector-General 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 defense official.

His predecessor at the ministry of defense and law and order, Hemasiri Fernando, stepped down on Thursday in the wake of the attacks, which were claimed by ISIS.

General Kottegoda, 69, was forced to retire as head of the army in December 2005, by then-president Mahinda Rajapakse.

Sirisena said an intelligence agency from a neighboring country had provided precise details of the impending attack 17 days in advance, but local authorities had failed to take counter-measures.