(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said within two weeks after the Easter Sunday terror attacks, the country has returned to normalcy due to the swift, competent and wide-ranging decisions taken by the Government.
Making a special statement in Parliament on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said the government is taking every possible step to capture the people linked to the attacks, restore the normal life of the people and provide support for industries affected by the attacks while security authorities have been able to improve the security situation at present.
“Yesterday, schools were opened. The Security Forces and the Police have consolidated security in schools. I received a report from the Minister of Education in this regard. We hope that the attendance of schoolchildren will be gradually improved even though it was low yesterday. Likewise, last Sunday, many Christian churches held service. Last Friday, prayers were also made in the Muslim churches. Our security forces have been able to ensure that all this work is done without any hindrance.”
Explaining the background of the terror attacks last month, the Premier said since 2014, intelligence information have been received about some people who had gone to Syria and joined ISIS.
Outlining the intelligence reports on some Sri Lankans joining Islamic State since 2014 in Syria, the Prime Minister held many others have migrated to Iraq and Syria with Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declaring an Islamic State on 29 June 2014.
After ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi on June 29, 2014 declared a Muslim State, Muslims around the world had migrated to Syria and Iraq expecting to live in an Islamic State. In 2014, several people from Sri Lanka have also traveled to Syria through Turkey to join ISIS.
“Mohamad Musin, Ishaq Ahmad, Mohomad Unasin, Mohomad Ameen, Mohomad Suwair, and Mohomad Aroos were reported to have joined the IS in Syria by going through Turkey. Some have returned to Sri Lanka after weapons training. Mohomad Ibrahim Sadiq Abdul Haq, now in custody, received weapons training in Syria in 2014. The Dehiwala suicide bomber, Abdul Lathief Mohomad Jameel, had gone to Turkey in 2014 with hopes to join IS and returned to Sri Lanka. The parents of the first Sri Lankan who was killed after joining IS was Mohomad Musin Safras Nilam. His elderly parents have travelled with him to Syria on 15 January 2015 via Turkey. These parents who were in Syria returned to Sri Lanka on 29 January 2016. They are closely monitored by the intelligence community,” the Prime Minister said.
Outlining the improvements in the security situation in the country, the Premier said all those who are connected to the attacks have been brought before the law and investigations are being conducted on the people closely associated with them.
Based on a report obtained from the Acting Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne on the security situation during the past 24 hours, the Prime Minister said academic activities at schools have been commenced and no obstructions have been reported.
“All religious sites do not hold special religious ceremonies, but the daily religious rituals are taking place normally. All transports, including passenger transport, have returned to normal schedule. The day-to-day business operations and daily work of the general public have returned to normal. The Police curfew imposed island wide from time to time has now been completely removed. Inspections are being continued in all police divisions based on the information received from public and police investigations. Action has been taken to continue the roadblocks and the existing security situation. The Criminal Investigation Department (TID) and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) are continuously conducting investigations regarding the series of attacks on April 21, 2019. ”
The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the payment of Rs. 1 million in compensation for those who died as a result of the attacks and Rs. 500,000 for those who were injured as well as the payment of compensation for property damaged.
Accordingly, compensation payments have already been made to the next of kin for the 102 people died and to the 42 people injured from the attacks on the churches at Katuwapitiya, Kochchikade and Batticaloa. Also, the Army and the Navy have been working together to repair the damaged churches and the government will provide the necessary funds for the reconstruction.
However, the Prime Minister cautioned that Sri Lanka is not safe from global terrorism and defeating global terrorism is a great challenge. He said that all countries should join together internationally to exchange intelligence and technology in order to defeat it.
“But, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, we all have to remember that the threat has not completely disappeared. Because we are today subject to global terrorism. Although everyone involved in attacks in Sri Lanka has been arrested, the terrorism can be inflicted in number of other ways.”
Mr. Wickremesinghe pointed out that the strengthening the existing legal framework for defeating global terrorism is also needed and the government is taking steps to introduce the Counter-Terrorism Act.
The Premier pointed out that the many countries helped Sri Lanka to defeat the LTTE but more international help is needed to defeat global terrorism.
Some call for international cooperation to prepare foreign troops to Sri Lanka. But that’s not the case. However, we have the support of all parties and we face it. The security of the country is aggravated. We will bring the latest technology to this end.
“Some interpret seeking international support as preparations to bring foreign forces into the country. It’s not bringing in foreign forces to Sri Lanka. We will bring state-of-the-art technology to Sri Lanka to ensure country’s security” he added.
The Premier said the aim of these terrorist and political extremists is to sabotage the day-to-day activities of the country, disrupt the lives of the people, create problems in the country and achieve their petty political goals.
“As a government we will not allow it. We have to gradually start living a normal life. Everyday work should be carried out. Always be patient and vigilant. We will not allow them to destroy the country. We invite all of you representing the parliament to join hands to do this.”