Colombo: Hours before the coordinated blasts rocked Sri Lanka, Indian Intelligence officers tipped off Sri Lankan officials about a forthcoming possible attack by terrorists on its soil. Also Read - Pakistan Ready to Resolve All Outstanding Issues With India Through Dialogue, Says Imran Khan
“Indian intelligence officers contacted their Sri Lankan counterparts two hours before the first attack to warn of a specific threat on churches,” one Sri Lankan defence source and an Indian government source told Reuters. The Indian government source also informed the news agency that the similar warnings were sent out to Sri Lanka on April 4 and April 20 as well, however, there was no response from the other side. (Also Read: Sri Lanka Government Plans to Impose Ban on Burqa) Also Read - Govt Permits Pakistan PM Imran Khan to Use Indian Airspace For His Maiden Visit To Sri Lanka
Notably, the death toll in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and the responsibility for which was claimed by the Islamic State. Prior to ISIS’ claim, Sri Lankan officials had said that the alleged attack was carried out by a little-known local jihadist group, National Thowheed Jamath, with the support of an international network. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: What India, China Discussed During 16-Hour Long Military-Level Talks | Read Here
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has put all police stations in Colombo on high alert following reports of a lorry and van carrying explosives.
The Sri Lankan president’s office has declared a state of national emergency, which is in effect from midnight (18:30 GMT) on Monday. The emergency gives police and military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders. Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne had reportedly said that the Sri Lankan authorities were warned about a bomb threat from National Thowheed Jamath a full two weeks before the attacks.
Notably, a string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.