Sri Lanka apologises for releasing US-based activist’s photo as one of the suspects’

Sri Lankan police on Thursday released photos of suspects involved in the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks.

Among the pictures of suspects was a photo of Amara Majeed. Amara Majeed is a US-based activist.

Upon learning her photo was released by Sri Lankan police as one of the suspects, she took to Twitter to clarify that she was not involved in the attacks.

Amara Majeed wrote on Twitter, “Hello everyone! I have this morning been FALSELY identified by the Sri Lankan government as one of the ISIS terrorists that have committed the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. What a thing to wake up to!”

“This is obviously completely false and frankly, considering that our communities are already greatly afflicted with issues of surveillance, I don’t need more false accusations and scrutiny,” Amara Majeed said.

“Please stop implicating and associating me with these horrific attacks. And next time, be more diligent about releasing such information that has the potential to deeply violate someone’s family and community,” Amara Majeed added on Twitter.

Amara Majeed also wrote a Facebook post clarifying she is not one of the suspects.

Amara Majeed’s post on Facebook

Later, Sri Lankan police department apologised for releasing the wrong photo.

Sri Lankan police clarified that the CID has confirmed that the picture released in suspects’ list, purporting to show Fathima Qadiya, is incorrect.

Sri Lankan police issued clarification | Photo courtesy: Geeta Mohan

The CID said the woman in the picture is not Fathima Qadiya, who is a wanted suspect, but the US-based activist Amara Majeed.

Sri Lankan police has now retracted the pictures it put out earlier as suspects.

The US-based activist later wrote on Twitter, “Sri Lankan police issues apology for wrongly using my photographs in the WANTED list of terror suspects.”

“My photo has now been removed from the poster,” she added on Twitter.

Sri Lankan police, earlier in the day, released photos of suspects involved in the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks.

The suicide bomb attacks on three churches and four hotels exposed a significant intelligence failure, with warnings of strikes not acted on and accusations of feuds at the highest levels of government undermining security cooperation.

Police issued names and photographs of seven people, three of them women, wanted in connection with the attacks, as bomb scares and security sweeps kept the country on edge.

“We were working on that. All those agencies were working on that,” Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando told Reuters, referring to intelligence tips from India warning of imminent strikes that came in over the days before the blasts.

Pictures of suspects released by Sri Lankan police earlier in the day

Fernando, the top civil servant at the government’s defence department, said he had resigned to take responsibility for institutions he was in charge of, though he added there had been no failure on his part.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks. If that connection is confirmed, it looks likely to be the deadliest ever such attack linked to the group.

Pictures of suspects released by Sri Lankan police earlier in the day

Most of the victims were Sri Lankans, although authorities have said at least 38 foreigners were also killed, many of them tourists sitting down to breakfast at top-end hotels when the bombers struck.

They included British, US, Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

About 500 people were wounded.

Authorities have focused their investigations on international links to two domestic Islamist groups – National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – they believe carried out the attacks.

Pictures of suspects released by Sri Lankan police earlier in the day

Islamic State released a video that showed eight men, all but one with their faces covered, standing under a black Islamic State flag and declaring their loyalty to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

The government said there were nine suicide bombers, eight of whom had been identified, and that one was a woman.

(Inputs from Geeta Mohan in Colombo and Reuters)


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