COLOMBO (Reuters) - Security for Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has been stepped up following the discovery of an alleged plot to assassinate him, two of his advisers said on Thursday.
An Indian national, named by Indian and Sri Lankan media as M Thomas from the southern state of Kerala, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the plot on September 22. Former Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was also a target, a police officer said.
“The president is very serious about this,” Shiral Lakthialaka, one of the advisers, told reporters in Colombo.
“People in charge have taken measures to strengthen his security. Certainly his security has been beefed up. We need a broad investigation into this.”
The alleged plot first emerged in late September after a police informant called Namal Kumara published a telephone recording between him and a senior police officer where he said there was a plan to kill Sirisena.
It is not clear whether there are any other individuals that are alleged to be involved.
The plot briefly threatened to cause tension between Sri Lanka and its much larger neighbour India, after a report that Sirisena had accused India’s intelligence services of involvement - a claim that New Delhi and Colombo have both denied.
India’s The Hindu newspaper said on Tuesday that Sirisena had accused India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of being involved in the plot.
Both Sirisena’s office and Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry have denied he made the comments.
The office of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said in a statement on Wednesday that Sirisena had called him to say the allegation he had accused RAW were “utterly baseless and false”.
A coalition between Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party (UNP) has grown increasingly strained in recent months.
Both coalition partners suffered heavy defeats in local elections in February, and Sirisena loyalists backed a no-confidence motion in April against the prime minister, who survived after a majority of legislators voted to support his coalition government.
Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez in COLOMBO, Editing by Alasdair Pal, Sanjeev Miglani, William Maclean