Sri Lanka’s Zion Church congregation had not let Easter bomb stop them meeting, Dec, 2019 (Credit: Open Doors)

Detectives have arrested the man suspected of being the ‘handler’ of the bomber of Zion Protestant Church in Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 2019, 21 April. The man, from Mount Lavinia, south of the capital Colombo – across the complete width of the island from Zion Church, around 7 hours’ drive – is thought to have provided the transport for that bomber. In Zion Church, 31 died. Detectives are investigating evidence that this man also assisted the bomber(s) of St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Kochchikade, in a suburb of Colombo, where 54 people died.

The BBC says that, altogether, over 350 were killed in the three churches and some Western hotels. ‘Islamic State’ claimed the attacks.

The authorities received advance warnings of the bombings, but these had not been passed on to the Catholic Church – named in the warnings – partly due to a personal feud between the President and the Prime Minister which had kept the country in a constitutional crisis for at least 6 months.

Since the November 2019 election, when Gotabaya Rajapaksa (brother of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa) was elected President, investigators were able to revisit cellphone records and suspects’ statements. Sixty suspects are currently held by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID); another 31 by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

A further investigation will try to find out if the previous team under the former head of the CID had deliberately omitted some statements in their evidence, covering up for the people behind the attacks.