In a new twist to Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter Sunday bombings, the country’s President Maithripala Sirisena says that international drug syndicates had a hand in it and not Islamists as earlier claimed.
This statement comes after a nationwide crackdown on narcotics with the Sri Lankan government wanting to reintroduce ‘capital punishment’ for drug offenders. The President said drug barons carried out this attack to ‘discredit him’ and discourage his anti-narcotics drive. “I will not be deterred,” he said.
In February, Sirisena had pledged to end the country’s four-decade moratorium, since 1976, on capital punishment due to increasing drug-related crime. In July of 2018, the President had said that Sri Lanka would begin hanging drug offenders. According to Time, drug-related crimes have prompted public calls to restart executions in Sri Lanka, with cannabis and heroin being the most widely used.
But the country’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe is opposed to capital punishment as it was against the policy of his United National Party.
However, Sudarshana Gunawardana, from the Prime Minister’s office, has discounted the president’s claims. Gunawardana said the police have completed the investigations and there is no mention of the involvement of drug dealers. “We have no reason to doubt our investigators,” he said.
Meanwhile, police officials said investigations into the April 21 suicide bombings are ‘still ongoing’, with more than a 100 people in custody being Sri Lankans. A senior police official said the crime (bombings) was planned and executed by a group of radicalized Sri Lankan Muslims. “Everyone involved in the attacks are either dead or in custody,” he said.
Sri Lankan law officials had said that National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ), a local jihadist group, was responsible for the series of suicide bombings in hotels and churche that rocked killed over 250 people including foreigners.