“Drug barons carried out this attack to discredit me and discourage my anti-narcotics drive,” Sirisena’s office said in a statement. “I will not be deterred.”
The Sri Lankan government has blamed an Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamath, for the attack. The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe played down Sirisena’s comments about the Easter Sunday attacks. “Police completed the investigations within about two weeks,” Sudarshana Gunawardana told AFP on Monday. “There is no mention of drug dealers being involved. We have no reason to doubt our investigators.”
Unidentified police officers told the news agency that investigations into the April 21 suicide bombings were still going on, and over 100 Sri Lankans were in custody. “We are going on the basis that this was a crime planned and executed by a group of radicalised Sri Lankan Muslims,” an unidentified police officer said. “Everyone involved in the attacks is either dead or in custody.”
On Sunday, Sirisena had opposed a Parliamentary motion to ban capital punishment in the country. “The day when the government is set to adopt a parliamentary motion banning capital punishment will be a day of national mourning,” he said, according to PTI. “The government will be the toast of drug dealers, murderers and criminals.”
“Drugs are being distributed freely to students, our children are being ruined,” he added. “The capital punishment fear was the only deterrent.” Last month, Sirisena had signed death warrants of four people convicted of drug trafficking.