Lanka defence minister quits following attacks

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s top defence official said on Thursday that security agencies had been working to stop militant attacks in the days before Easter Sunday bombings that killed 359 people, and he was resigning to take responsibility for the failure.
The suicide bomb attacks on three churches and four hotels exposed a significant intelligence failure, with warnings of strikes not acted on and accusations of feuds at the highest levels of government undermining security cooperation.
Police issued names and photographs of seven people, three of them women, wanted in connection with the attacks, as bomb scares and security sweeps kept the country on edge.
“We were working on that. All those agencies were working on that,” Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando said, referring to intelligence tips from India warning of imminent strikes that came in over the days before the blasts.
Fernando, the top civil servant at the government’s defence department, said he had resigned to take responsibility for institutions he was in charge of, though he added there had been no failure on his part.
The IS militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks. If that connection is confirmed, it looks likely to be the deadliest ever such attack linked to the group.
Most of the victims were Sri Lankans, although authorities have said at least 38 foreigners were also killed, many of them tourists sitting down to breakfast at top-end hotels when the bombers struck. See P5