Sri Lanka police chief Pujith Jayasundara (right) at the headquarters in Colombo. File Photo/AFP
Sri Lanka's president suspended the chief of police on Monday and appointed a new defence secretary in a shake-up of the shell-shocked country's security services following the Easter Sunday terror attacks.
Intelligence warnings from abroad alerting to possible attacks by extremists were ignored ahead of the multiple bombings of churches and upscale hotels on April 21 that killed 253 people and injured nearly 500.
Chief of police Pujith Jayasundara had refused to quit to clear the way for a shake-up of the 85,000-strong force, prompting President Maithripala Sirisena to suspend him on Monday.
Senior Deputy Inspector-General Chandana Wickramaratne was appointed acting police chief in his place, Sirisena's office said in a statement.
Separately Sirisena appointed on Monday a former head of the army, Shantha Kottegoda, as the country's top defence official.
His predecessor at the ministry of defence and law and order, Hemasiri Fernando, stepped down on Thursday in the wake of the attacks, which were claimed by the Daesh group.
General Kottegoda, 69, was forced to retire as head of the army in December 2005, by then-president Mahinda Rajapakse.
Sirisena said an intelligence agency from a neighbouring country had provided precise details of the impending attack 17 days in advance, but local authorities had failed to take counter measures.
Official sources said the president was referring to information provided by India's Research and Analysis Wing which apparently gleaned details of the Easter attacks from a militant suspect in Indian custody.
Flags were lowered to half mast on government buildings, and people bowed their heads and reflected silently on the violence that has caused international outrage.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which officials said were carried out by at least seven suicide bombers on three churches and four hotels. About 500 people were also wounded.
Daesh's claim, issued on its AMAQ news agency, came shortly after Sri Lanka said two domestic militant groups, with suspected links to foreign militants, were believed to have been behind the attacks at three churches and four hotels, which wounded about 500 people.
The shootout between troops and suspected militants erupted on Friday evening in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara district, to the south of the town of Batticaloa, site of one of the Easter Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels.
An international detergent brand has come under fire for an advertisement questioning gender stereotypes in the conservative patriarchal country, with critics accusing the company of blasphemy.
A passenger train carrying at least 2,000 people derailed as it was crossing a bridge in Bangladesh on Monday killing five people and injuring more than 100, officials said.
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) recorded 664,480 applications for international protection in 2018, down for the third year running and 10 percent lower than in 2017.