Sri Lanka’s police chief warned ten days ago that radical Islamic extremists were planning to murder Christians in ‘prominent churches’ on Easter Sunday, but the terrorists were still allowed to wreak deadly carnage.
At least 207 people have been declared dead, including Americans, British and European citizens, with the death toll expected to rise, according to reports.
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The nature of the blasts, which hit high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, injuring as many as 500, was not immediately clear, and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
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However, documents seen by news agency AFP reveal that Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that Islamic suicide bombers planned to hit ‘prominent churches’.
DailyMail reports: ‘A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,’ the alert said.
The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that was linked last year to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues.
The first blast was reported at St Anthony’s Shrine, a well-known Catholic church in the capital Colombo.
A second deadly explosion was then confirmed at St Sebastian’s, a church in the town of Negombo, north of the capital.
Soon after, police confirmed that a third church in the town of Batticaloa had been hit, along with three high-end hotels in the capital.
Hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens were among the dead, with Britons and Japanese among those injured in the attacks.
A Christian group said there had been 86 cases of discrimination, threats and violence against followers of Jesus last year, with another 26 so far this year.
The U.S. State Department warned in a 2018 report that Christians had been pressured to close places of worship after they were deemed ‘unauthorised gatherings’.