Two weeks after the attacks, the security measures remain high. Hundreds of foreigners were expelled. Authorities continue to search for suspects. The archbishop now reminds to rest.
Two weeks after the suicide attacks in Sri Lanka, the situation remains tense. The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called for silence in a televised address and asked Christians, Buddhists and Muslims to secure peace.
In Negombo, north of the capital of Sri Lanka, there had been violent clashes between Christians and Muslims on Sunday. Several houses and vehicles of Muslims were damaged. The authorities then sent several hundred extra security forces to Negombo and imposed a nocturnal curfew. The St. Sebastianskirche in the small town was on Easter Sunday one of the targets of the suicide bombers.
Under strict security arrangements, the schools of the country were reopened. Policemen with tracking dogs had searched over 10,000 school buildings across the country before being released for class.
„I feel better when my child stays home“
But not all parents were convinced. „I’m not sending my child to school yet,“ said a mother. Just because the school principal says that everything was safe and has been searched, she still has no faith. „These Islamists can not be trusted, they even kill their own children, so why spare them ours?“
A father expressed similar. The security had been tightened, but he did not send his child back yet. „Whatever the authorities say, I feel better if my child stays home.“
Muslims under pressure
The government in Colombo blames Islamist National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) for the series of attacks. Their leader, the Muslim cleric Zahran Hashim, had been killed as one of the suicide bombers.
The Muslims in Sri Lanka have been under pressure ever since. Especially now, during the holy month of fasting Ramadan. The secretary general of the Muslim Association Ceylon Thawheed Jama’ath, Abdur Razik, distanced himself from the terrorists.
„There are so many Thawheed Jama’ath organizations in our country, we call ourselves Ceylon Thawheed Jama’ath, CTJ, but then there are the Sri Lanka Thawheed Jama’ath, the United Thawheed Jama’ath and so on and so forth Some are present throughout Sri Lanka, some only in different regions. “
Government rejects foreigners
The authorities in Sri Lanka have now expelled more than 600 foreigners, including around 200 Islamic clerics.
Although they had come legally into the country, said Minister of Interior Vajira Abeywardena the news agency AFP, but their visas were expired. The government has decided to tighten visa requirements for Muslim religious teachers.
Suspects still on the run
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said security agencies had made good progress in the search for backers and other terrorists, but there are still dozens of suspects on the run.