Sri Lanka Cop Chief Arrested Over Easter Bombings

Sri Lankan police have arrested their own chief and the former defence secretary for failing to prevent attacks on churches and luxury hotels that killed more than 250 people in April, a police spokesman says.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara and former secretary to the Ministry of Defence Hemasiri Fernando, while they were receiving medical treatment at state-run hospitals, spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera ordered their arrest on Monday and urged charges against the pair, including for "crimes against humanity".

Shoes of victims are kept as evidence as security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian's Church in Negombo. Photo: Getty

Jayasundara and Fernando were not immediately reachable for comment, though both had previously appeared before a parliamentary committee investigating the attacks and denied the allegations.

They are the first two state officials to be arrested for allegedly failing to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks, claimed by the militant group Islamic State.

Sri Lankan military officers conduct inspections inside the St. Sebastians church. Photo: Getty

The bombings took place despite repeated warnings from Indian intelligence that an attack was imminent.

President Maithripala Sirisena has accused Fernando and Jayasundara of failing to act on an April 4 intelligence report about the April 21 bombings.

Jayasundara, the first serving police chief to be arrested, told parliament that the president had asked him to take the blame for the bombings and resign, promising him a diplomatic posting in return.

Image: Getty Images

Jayasundara refused to quit and was later asked to go on compulsory leave.

Fernando, who resigned as defence secretary, told parliament Sirisena had given instructions to keep Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, with whom he fell out in October, out of security council meetings.