Sri Lankan police raid headquarters of Islamic group suspected of attacks

Sri Lankan PM issues warning after Easter bombings

Sri Lankan PM issues warning after Easter bombings

A week after Islamic militants carried out deadly blasts that killed more than 250 people, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday announced a ban on covering of the face that would make identification hard.

Sunday morning, instead, Sri Lankan Catholics celebrated Sunday services at home, as the Cardinal performed a televised Mass from his home chapel, according to the Associated Press.

Police say they have arrested more than 150 people suspected to be involved with the coordinated suicide bombings that devastated three luxury hotels and three churches, two of which are Roman Catholic.

A girl and a woman survived the shootout but were critically injured and being treated at a hospital, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena said the country had the ability to "completely control the situation in the next few days".

Both Christianity and Islam are minority religions in Sri Lanka, each accounting for under 10% of the total population.

A day after Colombo declared National Towheed Jamaath (NTJ) a terror group, armed police in the town of Kattankudy in eastern Sri Lanka entered the organization's main mosque.

Most of those killed in the Easter Sunday attacks were Sri Lankans.

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The authorities believe Zahran Hashim, the founder of NTJ, masterminded and was one of the nine suicide bombers in the attacks on Easter Sunday which killed 253 people.

Sirisena and the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have faced strong criticism after it emerged that India had repeatedly given warnings of the possibility of attacks.

"God is the reflection of love and kindness, so how can someone kill in the name of God?"

Raids and police curfews shut down areas of eastern Sri Lanka as Catholic leaders cancelled Sunday Masses indefinitely.

Authorities say they are seeking about 140 Islamic State influenced radicals in all. "What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack", he said. The dead also included 40 foreigners, including British, U.S., Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island's conflict and communal tensions. Officials also urged Muslims to stay home for prayers in an extraordinary call by the clergy to curtail worship as fear of more attacks plagued the island nation.

Sri Lanka remains on high alert a week after the bombings and a statement from the president's office claimed the ban is a necessary step.

Defence authorities have so far focused their investigations on global links to two domestic groups they believe carried out the attacks, the National Thawheedh Jamaath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim.

Islamic State provided no evidence to back its claim that it was behind the attacks.

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