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#SriLankan archbishop seeks access to Easter bombings report

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A senior Sri Lankan church official has asked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to give him access to a presidential commission’s report on Easter Sunday bomb attacks in 2019 that killed more than 260 people, including churchgoers.

FILE – In this April 30, 2019 file photo, Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith addresses a press conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The top Sri Lankan church official has asked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to give him access to a presidential commission report on the deadly 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks, that killed more than 260 people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, has written to Rajapaksa to make the request, his spokesman, the Rev. Camillus Fernando, said Monday.

The report by a commission comprising judges hasn’t been made public, but Rajapaksa said in his Independence Day speech last week that it has been referred to relevant officials for prosecution. Inquiries to the president’s office on whether the report will be released were not immediately answered.

Two local Muslim groups that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group were blamed for the coordinated suicide bomb attacks on six locations on April 21, 2019. The victims included worshippers in two Roman Catholic churches and a Protestant church participating in Easter Sunday services, and local residents and foreigners who were having breakfast at three leading hotels in the heart of Colombo.

Political infighting leading to a communications breakdown between the then president and prime minister was cited as a cause of the government’s failure to respond to near-specific foreign intelligence warnings of an impending attack.

Both former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were summoned by the commission. Sirisena appointed the inquiry commission soon after the attacks.

Ranjith had complained several times about a perceived lack of progress in the commission’s investigation.

The attacks helped Rajapaksa win the presidential election later in 2019 on a platform of national security.

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