Confusion reigns after Navy warnings were withdrawn of impending attacks on churches
Sep 30, 2021
Catholic priests pay homage at the cemetery of victims of the Saint Sebastian Church bombing in Negombo on April 21, marking the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday 2019 attacks that left 279 dead in three churches and three hotels. (Photo: AFP)
COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Church has urged the government to investigate reports of possible attacks on churches in the Archdiocese of Colombo.
On September 28, naval authorities informed several churches to be on alert in the event of an attack.
Father Cyril Gamini, former director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communications, said navy officials had received information about possible attacks on churches in Bopitiya, Wattala, Ragama and Weligampitiya.
“A group of naval officers informed us that there might be a possible attack and later they said it was a mistake, so there is a big problem with national security,” the father said. Gamini at a press conference on September 29 in Colombo.
The priest said there was still confusion over the warnings despite an apology from the navy commander who claimed the warnings were bogus.
“Can we play with the security of the country? he asked, adding that an investigation should be conducted to find out who was behind the warnings and their motives. “We are wondering whether to keep the churches closed or not.”
“If there is a danger of attack, then all that needs to be done is to officially inform Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, someone in the Defense Ministry or intelligence services who can be officially held responsible.” , added Father Gamini.
State agencies received specific warnings about possible terrorist attacks ahead of the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019, but the information was not properly shared by authorities.
Father Gamini said there must have been an order from somewhere telling these officials to notify churches of possible attacks.
âThe Navy Commander spoke to Cardinal Ranjith after reports of further warnings and apologized. They informed Cardinal Ranjith that the warnings about the new attacks were false, âsaid Father Gamini.
The Church urged the Inspector General of Police to undertake a full investigation into Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera on the possibility of another extremist attack at any time.
Bishops, civil rights activists and opposition parties have expressed concern and dissatisfaction with the ongoing investigation into the Easter attacks.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Italy on September 10 sparked controversy after Cardinal Ranjith claimed the visit was an attempt to mislead the Vatican about the investigation into the attacks. Several demonstrations took place to demand justice in Italy.
Protests were also organized in the United States to demand justice for the victims of Easter when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa attended the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.
âWho will take responsibility in government? They come in the morning and say there is an attack in the evening. Now evening is coming and they say it’s a mistake, âsaid Father Sagara Hettiarachchi.
The Defense Ministry said the news had not been confirmed by relevant authorities. Defense Secretary-General Kamal Gunaratne said there was no reason to be concerned about the incident.–ucanews.com