Sri Lanka expects more arrests, public asked to be vigilant
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expecting to make more arrests and bring security under control within the next two days after 350 people died in Islamist attacks on Easter Sunday but the public must be vigilant in the meantime, State Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said.
"More arrests will be made in the next couple of days," Wijewardene told foreign correspondents.
"In the next couple of days the security situation will be under control."
In the meantime public is being asked to be vigilant he said.
Sri Lanka has so far arrested about 60 people in connection with Easter Sunday blasts that had killed 359 persons including at least 39 foreigners so far, and injured over 500.
Authorities had said there may be other members of the group running loose.
At least two safe houses had been raided Wijewardene said.
Islamic State, a Muslim fundamentalist group has claimed responsibility while authorities are saying it was carried out by a group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) and a breakaway group.
"There are two groups from what we gather," Wijewardene said. "NJT and a group that split from that group. That is the group that has become quite extreme.
"They believe that Islam is the only religion. We belive that the leader of that group has also committed suicide."
He said the more extremist group believed that Islam should be the only religion.
Police said there were at least 9 suicide bombers and 8 persons have been identified by name.
Many of the bombers were educated and came from financially well off families, he said.
Political analysts who studied nationalism which emerged as feudal rule broke down in the late 19th century says it is usually an urban intellectual phenomenon and they spread the ideas to people in rural areas.
Sri Lanka has so far arrested about 60 people in connection with the blast. Many of the members were known to police and some have been arrested before.
"They have been held in connection with skirmishes," Wijewardene said.
Some members of the group were have also been involved in defacing Bhuddist statues.
Extremist Bhuddist groups have also targeted Christian places of worship and some have attacked Muslims, most recently in Digana Kandy.
Shortly before the Easter attacks, a Methodist church was targeted by Buddhist extremists (Mob attack on Anuradhapura Methodist Centre and its aftermath). (Colombo/Apr25/2019-SB)