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Sri Lanka files 23,270 charges against 25 Easter Sunday bombing suspects

Sri Lankan forces in front of one of the churches (Photo: IANS)

Sri Lanka has filed 23,270 charges against 25 people related to the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks on churches and hotels that killed 269 people, according to the president's office on Wednesday.

The charges were filed on Tuesday under the country's anti-terror laws. The 23,270 charges include conspiring to murder, aiding and abetting, collecting arms and ammunition, and attempted murder.

The attorney general requested the chief justice to appoint a special three-member high court bench to expedite the cases.

Suicide bombers from local and international extremist groups had carried out a series of blasts at three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21, 2019. Another suicide bomber who had entered a fourth hotel did not blow up his bomb, but committed suicide elsewhere by blowing up his explosives.

The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is under pressure from the Catholic church. Just last month, the church had written to the President expressing concerns over the investigations, urging him to take action against former President Maithripala Sirisena for negligence.

Considered to be one of the worst attacks in post-conflict Sri Lanka, the terror attacks shook the country. They caused an upheaval in the island nation, with many pointing out that the government did not act on intelligence inputs provided by India. In the subsequent elections, the ruling government lost and Rajapaksa was elected for his commitment to national security.

The attacks also brought up the issue of lack of coordination among the then president Sirisena and then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, due to which, many politicians allege, the bombers could carry out their act of terror.