Colombo, Jul 13 (efe-epa).- Sri Lankan authorities on Monday arrested a chief inspector of police accused of concealing evidence related to the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks last year in which more than 250 people were killed.
The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) arrested the police officer attached to a station in Ampara, an important city in the country’s Eastern Province, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, according to a statement by the police.
The officer would undergo interrogation by the CCD, the statement added.
The officer concerned allegedly concealed information related to a blast during a raid by the security forces in Ampara’s Saindamarudu neighborhood in which 15 people died on Apr.29, 2019.
The security forces were carrying out the raid following a tipoff shortly after the explosions in three luxury hotels and three churches on Apr.21 that left 269 dead and more than 400 injured.
The recent arrest comes after the authorities revealed they were in the final stage of the investigation into the attacks attributed to a local extremist group and claimed by the Islamic State.
The deadly attacks were carried out almost simultaneously by at least nine suicide bombers early morning on Easter Sunday amid religious services.
Although the intelligence services had information on the attacks on Apr.4, they were unable to prevent any of the six attacks, which eroded the confidence of the people in the security services and the government, while increasing hostilities against the Muslim community in the Buddhist-majority country.
Moreover, the attacks completely paralyzed the island nation for a few weeks, while its important tourism industry took a massive hit.
After a number of countries issued travel advisories against visiting Sri Lanka, tourism dipped by 70.8 percent in May, according to statistics released by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
The country received just 1.9 million visitors in 2019, an 18 percent drop compared to the year before.
Tourism is the third largest source of foreign exchange in Sri Lanka, earning $4.38 billion in 2018, although revenues fell to $3.61 billion in 2019 as a result of the Easter attacks.
Sri Lankan authorities attributed the attacks to little-known local Islamist extremist groups, National Thowheeth Jama’ath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim. However, the Islamic State claimed the attacks. EFE-EPA