Sri Lanka presidential hopeful vows probe into Easter blasts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A former Sri Lankan defense chief who is a front-runner in next month's presidential election says he'll order a fresh probe into the Easter Sunday blasts that killed 263 people by appointing a presidential commission if he wins.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa told an election rally Sunday that the commission would be set up on a request made by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, a top leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. Ranjith has previously called for an independent and transparent commission to investigate the attack blamed on Islamic extremists.

Rajapaksa, a powerful defense official in the government of his brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a favorite to win the Nov. 16 election, in which national security has become the focal point.

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