A Sri Lankan worker pushes his hand cart as he leaves after delivering goods in a whole sale market in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Sri Lanka is limping back to normalcy after the devastating bomb attacks on Easter Sunday that killed more than 250 people and wounded hundreds more. People and vehicles are slowly coming back on the road and shops are open but traders say that their business remain drastically low. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

A Sri Lankan worker pushes his hand cart as he leaves after delivering goods in a whole sale market in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Sri Lanka is limping back to normalcy after the devastating bomb attacks on Easter Sunday that killed more than 250 people and wounded hundreds more. People and vehicles are slowly coming back on the road and shops are open but traders say that their business remain drastically low. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Sri Lanka lifts social media ban imposed after Easter blasts

The government wanted to curb the spread of misinformation in the wake of the April 21 bombings at churches

Sri Lanka on Tuesday lifted a social media ban that was imposed after the Islamic State-claimed Easter bombings, a sign of security easing even as a Cabinet minister said he and others had received intelligence that they could be targeted by the same group in possible new attacks.

President Maithripala Sirisena ended the blocking of Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and other popular sites, but asked the public to “act in a responsible manner” on social media, according to a government statement.

The government had said it was seeking to curb the spread of misinformation when it blocked social media in the wake of the April 21 bombings at churches and luxury hotels that killed 253 people.

Sri Lankan officials have warned that suspects linked to the bombings are still at large, and on Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s health minister, Rajitha Senarathna, said he and seven other government ministers had been identified by intelligence officials as targets of possible additional suicide attacks this week, by the same Islamic State-linked group of Sri Lankan militants.

Senarathna said he stayed at home Sunday and Monday upon the officials’ request. He declined to provide additional information about the source or type of intelligence.

At the same time, some of Sri Lanka’s South Asian neighbours investigated possible activities in their countries inspired by the Easter attack.

READ MORE: Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter attacks

READ MORE: Death toll lowered to 253, Sri Lanka braces for more attacks

In India, the country’s National Investigative Agency said it had arrested a 29-year-old Indian man who identified himself as a follower of Mohammed Zahran, the Sri Lankan militant who officials say led the Easter attacks.

Investigators said in a statement late Monday that Riyas A., also known as Riyas Aboobacker, was plotting a similar suicide attack in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Three other people were brought in for questioning about suspected links to IS, according to the statement.

During a search of their homes, digital devices including mobile phones, SIM cards, memory cards, pen drives, diaries with handwritten notes in Arabic and Malayalam and untitled DVDs and CDs with religious speeches were seized, the statement said. The digital material was being forensically examined.

Investigators did not provide any details about Aboobacker’s alleged plot but said he admitted during questioning that he had followed Zahran’s vitriolic online speeches and videos for more than a year.

Authorities initially blamed the Easter attacks on Zahran and his followers. Then the Islamic State group on April 23 released images of Zahran and others pledging their loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s shadowy leader.

In a video released Monday, a man said to be al-Baghdadi praised the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, calling them “part of the revenge” that awaits the West. It was al-Baghdadi’s first filmed appearance in nearly five years.

Authorities in Bangladesh on Tuesday were investigating the Islamic State group’s claim of responsibility for an explosion in the capital that injured three police officers.

Police said a “very powerful” crude bomb thrown by unidentified assailants at a shopping complex in Dhaka late Monday injured two traffic officers and a community police officer.

According to global terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence, IS claimed the attack on “apostate policemen” without producing evidence.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church’s top official in Sri Lanka said the government’s ban on the niqab, a black veil made of thin fabric, often with a small opening for a Muslim woman to see through, was a good security step, but didn’t go far enough to protect the faithful from another attack.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, has been a vocal critic of the government’s apparent failure to share near-specific intelligence on the Easter plot and some of the suspects involved.

Ranjith said Tuesday that reports from Negombo, where around 100 people were killed on Easter Sunday in a bombing at St. Sebastian’s Church, indicated that Sirisena’s pledge to have Sri Lankan security forces check every household in the country wasn’t being upheld.

“We are still not satisfied,” Ranjith said. “There is a fear among the people that this is only a camouflage, just hoodwinking everybody.”

READ MORE: Sri Lanka militants set off bombs during raid, killing 15

___

Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma in New Delhi and Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.

Bharatha Mallawarachi And Krishan Francis, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whether the Town of Ponoka gets enough ‘bang for its buck’ under its Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) membership was discussed during town council March 26.
File photo
Town of Ponoka appoints Sandra Lund as CAO

Ponoka town council voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Jan.12 to… Continue reading

Kelowna RCMP Stock Image.
Ponoka RCMP respond to several B&E’s

Calls include complaint of a spray painted garage

Black Press file photo
Maskwacis male charged with 2nd degree murder

18-year-old Kaydence Clark Roasting of Ermineskin Cree Nation was arrested at his residence.

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
750 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta Sunday

Central zone currently has 1,182 active cases of the virus

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store water for fracking

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday that11 more people had died from COVID-19, bringing the province’s death toll to 1,447. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Eleven more Albertans die from COVID-19

There were 739 people in hospital, 120 in ICU on Monday

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

The Mountain Cree Traditional Band headquarters in Mirror, Alta. has been the target of theft and vandalism. (Photo submitted)
Mountain Cree Traditional Band’s headquarters broken into five times

AWNTB says not enough been done to deter crime in Mirror, Alta.

Indigenous people gather for a ceremony for Cindy Gladue held at the courthouse in Edmonton, Alta, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Bradley Barton, a 52-year-old long-haul truck driver from Ontario on trial for manslaughter, is accused of killing Gladue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
People stand in support of mother as new trial gets underway in death of Cindy Gladue

Bradley Barton, a long-haul truck driver from Ontario, will now be tried for manslaughter in the 2011 death

(Photo submitted)
RCMP say ice climber seriously injured after reportedly falling 12 metres near Abraham Lake

Police say man’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Facebook/ The Open Door 24/7 Integrated Response Hub- Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin residents show support for 24/7 Integrated Response Hub

Wetaskiwin residents and City Council members showed support for Hub with positive signs.

Most Read