Sri Lanka blames ISIS mastermind for Easter Sunday 2019 attacks

Sri Lankan authorities accused Mohamed Naufar of being the mastermind of the deadly suicide bombings

Colombo:

Sri Lankan prosecutors on Monday indicted the suspected mastermind of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings as well as 24 men they said were complicit in the island’s worst terrorist attack.

Nearly three hundred people, including dozens of foreign nationals, were killed in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels, in a wave of killings targeting the Christian community in Sri Lanka.

Prosecutors have laid more than 20,000 charges against the suspects, three of whom have previously been charged with terrorism by the US Department of Justice.

The suspects are in custody, but one of them did not appear in court on Monday because he was suffering from Covid-19, officials said, adding that the hearings would begin on November 23.

Prosecutors told the court that US and Australian forensic experts helped investigators locate supporters of the eight-member suicide squad responsible for the attacks.

The Sri Lankan authorities have accused their leader, Mohamed Naufar, of being the mastermind of the deadly suicide attacks and of being a member of the ISIS group.

Former police chief Pujith Jayasundara and senior defense official Hemasiri Fernando are also being prosecuted separately for failing to heed repeated intelligence warnings about a possible ISIS attack.

An investigation set up by former President Maithripala Sirisena revealed that he too was responsible for failing to prevent the attack and should be prosecuted.

The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, has repeatedly said he is unhappy with the lack of progress in the investigation of the Easter attacks.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)

Alicia R. Rucker