The Easter Sunday Sri Lanka Bombings (21 April, 2019) were the largest and most devastating terrorist attacks since 9/11. With the Sri Lankan presidential poll likely to be held in late 2019 and PM Modi’s foreign policy thrust on ‘Neighbourhood First’, the attacks are a matter of considerable significance for Sri Lanka and India. Prabha Rao, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, and former Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GOI, will help us unwrap what the Easter blasts mean for Sri Lanka, India and the global community.
The Easter Bombings remain the biggest terrorist incident since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. The death toll rose to 290 in the coordinated attacks at churches and luxury hotels, which the government said had been carried out by seven suicide bombers. The assaults targeted foreign tourists and Christians, marking a shift from the violence that fueled a three-decade civil war on the Indian Ocean island.
On April 9th, 12 days before the attack, the Government of India sent a circular to the head of Sri Lankan Intelligence with the exact date of the attack, the names of the bombers as well as explicit mention of St. Anthony’s Church, one of the targeted sites. In spite of this, the Sri Lankan security forces chose not to act upon it. Incidentally, President Sirisena, despite being warned about such an attack, took it a lot more lightly than he should have and instead was in Singapore on leave.