COLOMBO: An extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, the country’s president confirmed Friday.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group.
Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts was not immediately clear.
Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim’s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s top police official, Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, has resigned over failures that led to the deadly Easter bomb attacks, the country’s president said Friday.
“The IGP has resigned. He has sent his resignation to the acting defense secretary. I’ll nominate a new IGP soon,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters.
Sirisena’s nominee has to be confirmed by a constitutional council.
The resignation comes after the country’s top defense ministry official, defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday.
Sirisena also said police are looking for 140 people believed to have links with the Daesh group over the attacks.
Sirisena told reporters some Sri Lankan youths had been involved with the extremist group since 2013, and that top defense and police chiefs had not shared information with him about the impending attacks.
He also blamed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government for weakening the intelligence system by focusing on the prosecution of military officers over alleged war crimes during a decade-long civil war with Tamil separatists.