Colombo, April 23 : Opposition leader and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday launched a blistering attack on the Sri Lankan government, saying it must be held accountable for the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 321 people.
Making a statement in Parliament, Rajapaksa, who is credited with crushing the Tamil Tiger guerrillas in May 2009, said that the carnage on Sunday in three Sri Lankan cities was linked to the weakening of intelligence services ever since he lost power.
The government, he said, should take responsibility for failing to prevent the attacks.
"The government can't shy away from taking the responsibility. It knew about the attacks but did not warn anyone or any church and made sure that none of the Ministers or MPs attended any (Easter) service," Rajapaksa said.
He claimed that Sri Lanka should be able to eradicate terrorism on its own.
"If the government had repealed the PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) as requested by the international community, the situation may have been worse," he said.
Rajapaksa said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) too carried out many coordinated attacks on multiple targets "but even they were not able to wreak the same amount of destruction".
He added: "So many people did not lose their lives even in the Mumbai attacks of 2008."
Underlining how in January 2015 he "handed over a completely secure and peaceful country to the new President", he asserted: "The Easter Sunday attacks would never have taken place under our government.
"The Sunday attacks did not take place due to the negligence of one or two officials. We can now see that the government is preparing to sacrifice some official and wash their hands of the matter.
"This incident occurred because of the conduct of this government from the time they came into power in January 2015. If anyone is to resign over these incidents, it should be the government," the former President said.
He said the Sunday bombings targeting luxury hotels and churches would strike a death blow not only to the tourism industry but to foreign investment as well. "This terrorism has to be conclusively defeated."