A week ago, Sri Lankan tourist guide Ricky Costa was preparing for a typically easy Sunday ferrying backpackers between Colombo’s tea shops and beach bars in his canary-yellow rickshaw. Then the blasts began. The coordinated suicide bombings by Islamist militants at hotels and churches killed more than 250 people and sent shockwaves through an Indian Ocean island state that had enjoyed relative peace since a civil war ended a decade ago.
President Maithripala Sirisena has announced a total overhaul of the security establishment, blaming them for failing to communicate several warnings they had about potential attacks, including one from India hours before the first bomb.
Since Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka won a 26-year conflict against mostly Hindu ethnic Tamil separatists, a well-resourced military has failed to adapt to shifting security threats, the sources said.
“The government was asleep. The military was asleep. They’ve been asleep for a long time,” said Costa, perching on his rickshaw as a suspicious policeman peered inside.