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Sri Lanka suspends two senior police officers over false terrorism warning

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Xinhua

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s police on Tuesday suspended two senior officers for falsely warning of a suicide attack similar to the Easter Sunday bombings that killed at least 258 people in April.

Several luxury hotels received a message from police last week cautioning them to step up security.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the two officers responsible were being disciplined for causing panic.

“Investigations showed that the chief inspector and his deputy had circulated false, unverified reports,” Gunasekera said.

Several unfounded warnings of new violence have been issued by the Catholic church since the April 21 attacks.

Sri Lanka’s police chief and the head of the defence ministry are currently facing criminal prosecutions for ignoring intelligence warnings ahead of the suicide bombings that targeted three churches and three luxury hotels.

Last month President Maithripala Sirisena ordered a fresh investigation, bowing to pressure from the head of the Catholic church in Sri Lanka.

The church has said a parliamentary probe and police investigation previously launched into the attacks were not sufficiently independent.

Sri Lanka imposed a state of emergency soon after the bombings, but relaxed the laws three months later.

Armed police have been deployed at churches since the attacks, while hotels have adopted airport style security measures.

The government has blamed a local jihadi group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) while the Islamic State group also admitted responsibility.

It has been said all those involved in the attacks are either dead or have been arrested. By the end of last month, 293 people had been taken into custody according to police.

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